Montreal Int. Jazz Festival (29 Jun – 8 Jul. Interview with Director of Programming…outdoor programme announced)

Sebastian writes: two stories about the Montreal Festival (*) as a preview. A few quick comments on the vast programme… and an interview I did with the programme director


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There are two sides to the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the “Outdoor Programme”, free-admission concerts on various stages, including the largest, a vast square where up to 60,000 people can gather, and the paid-for concerts. With this week’s announcement of the Outdoor programme, most of the shape of this years festival is now in place. (Link to press release below)

The main additions from this week’s press release are DOMi & JD Beck who will be headlining in the main sqare on Tuesday 4 July, and Macy Gray on the final Saturday 8 July.

There are a lot of good jazz names in the smaller venues on the Outdoor programe, for example: James Francies, a quartet of
Walter Smith III and Matthew Stevens with Reuben Rogers and Kendrick Scott, and The Pedrito Martinez Group, making its first appearance at the festival in two decades.

In the paid (indoor) programme there is a whole range of different venues. The biggest, the Salle Wilfried Pelletier, has a capacity of 3000. Diana Krall, appearing on two nights will have the honour of being the top ticket-seller. Also appearing there during the festival are George Benson, Buddy Guy, Rodrigo y Gabriela. Melody Gardot (with strings), Herbie Hancock. and Robert Plant/ Alison  Krauss whose concert sold out within hours.

There are great names at the Studio TD (free admission, expect a queue!: Oscar Jerome, Sam Gendel, Theon Cross, Brandee Younger, Emmet Cohen Trio, Genevieve Artadi/ Louis Cole/ Pedro Martins) and at the Monument-National: (Arooj Aftab / Vijay Iyer / Shahzad Ismaily, John Scofield, Samara Joy, The Bad Plus , Emilie-Claire Barlow)

I love the little clubs. At the little basement club Upstairs (sic) I am particularly looking forward to the launch of Christine Jensen‘s new album on Justin Time Records with the trio of Steve Amirault, Jim Doxas and Adrian Vedady.


There were good reasons why the Director of Programming of the Montreal Jazz Festival, Maurin Auxéméry was in optimistic mood when I met him in France two weeks ago. As he puts it: “Something is happening and I feel we have some good years ahead of us. There’s something in the air, in the water…”

Whereas that formulation might sound a bit vague, there are two specific reasons which back up that feeling:

1) AGE PROFILE/ NEW VISITORS There is firm evidence from last year of how a new, younger domestic audience is engaging with the festival. The festival has been researching into the age profile of the audience: 52% of the 2022 audience, was under 35 years old, and 70% below 45 years old. (proportions based on a total of just under a million visits to the festival area, or 510,000 visitors, based on an average number of days per visitor of 1.9.)

Also the festival has produced statistics for the proportion of first-time in visitors to the events. In 2019 it was 21%. In 2021 it was 19%. But last year it was a whopping 33% of the people attending.

I certainly felt that renewal when I was writing for the Telegraph about last year’s concert by Ludovico Einaudi, who sold 8000 tickets over three nights : “The core of his audience looked exactly like the demographic that all music promoters in big cities are desperate to reach. Montreal has been gentrifying for decades: it’s a tech hub, and there was a very strong showing from well-heeled types, mostly groups of couples in their thirties and forties, who can prove elusive for concert venues.”

2) TOURISTS/ PARTICULARLY FROM US The other reason is foreign visitors. Last year Covid restrictions and nerves were still keeping people away to some extent, particularly Americans, but the city’s data for hotel occupancy is already showing that there is a substantial increase in tourists coming to Montreal for the national holiday weekend.

(*) Sebastian has been invited to attend and report on FIJM

LINK: The 31 May 2023 Press Release

Programme in start time order for the whole festival

Categories: News, Previews

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