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Montreal’s 34th annual International Jazz Fest is a massive 10-day affair that ran June 28 through July 7. Offering a range of free outdoor shows and numerous ticketed events, the festival carefully balances solid jazz programming with plenty of rock, blues and world music and will host more than 2 million attendees before it is all said and done.
Presenting some of the jazz world’s most accomplished musicians as well as plenty of recognizable mainstream artists, the festival succeeds at providing something for everyone. The fest also is user-friendly with nearly all of the shows located within walking distance in downtown Montreal.
Canadian favorite Feist kicked off the Grand Opening event with a free outdoor concert attended by tens of thousands despite the rain, while jazz stars like Wynton Marsalis filled sizable auditoriums all week long. Veteran saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter brought a full-length gala revue to town for his 80th birthday celebration, including the ACS Trio with Esperanza Spalding, the Sound Prints band starring trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano and of course Shorter’s own quartet, which has been together for more than a decade.
Beloved acts like Boz Scaggs and George Benson played to enamored crowds, while outdoor entertainment included the visually spectacular 30-piece Chicago-based band Mucca Pazza. Legendary saxophone star Charles Lloyd played three shows, each with a different lineup of supporting musicians as part of the festival’s storied Invitation Series.
Returning festival favorites like Pink Martini and Canadian singer Holly Cole put in solid appearances, as did established jazzmen like saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Jason Moran and guitarist Bill Frisell.
Montreal’s long-standing jazz club Upstairs featured veteran pianist Barry Harris, while the Club Soda nightclub brought in DJ acts like the Herbaliser, singing sensation Gregory Porter and New Orleans star Trombone Shorty, to name a few. Hometown favorites the Jensen sisters played together — making an extremely solid front line with Christine on sax and Ingrid on trumpet. Hardworking saxophonist David Murray found a commercial outlet for his Infinity Quartet with the valued addition of singer Macy Gray.
The intimate Gesu venue (a converted church) hosted late-night sets by intense piano trios including The Bad Plus and bands led by Jacky Terrasson and Steve Kuhn.
Check out a photo gallery of the buzziest performances so far.
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