The 30th anniversary of the Festival coincided with the 50th anniversary
of the most famous opus of Dave Brubeck, Time Out – the first jazz
album to have sold over a million copies. To mark the event, the Californian pianist
was set to reinterpret his classic in full. However, a personal tragedy forced the
88-year-old musician to change the evening’s program at the last minute. Even
in adversity, Mr. Brubeck delivered a dignified performance to a very appreciative
Winner of the 2009 Miles Davis Award, the “father of free jazz”
gave a memorable concert at Théâtre Maisonneuve in Place des Arts.
Playing the saxophone, then switching to the trumpet and finally the violin, Mr.
Coleman, 79, showed that he can still hold his own onstage. The next day, certain
festival-goers were fortunate enough to chat with the pioneering musician, catching
him on Ste. Catherine St. just steps away from the Festival.
A regular on Montreal stages, Tony Bennett, 83 years young, gave a notable
concert at the 30th edition of the Festival. After his daughter Antonia performed
a few songs, the famous crooner took his rightful place in the spotlight. Showing
no signs of slowing down, Mr. Bennett charmed the crowd with inspired interpretations
of his classics as well as playful covers – his version of Fly Me to the Moon,
sung without a microphone, was a hit. Class personified...
Sheila Jordan has been singing since childhood, but her talent only gained recognition
from the 1970s onward. In 2009, the 80-year-old artist shared her vast
wealth of musical experience at the Festival, where she had appeared the previous
year. Drawing crowds to the Upstairs bar, the queen of scat took the stage alongside
the Jeff Johnston Trio, delivering her trademark vocal acrobatics and proving she’s
as supple and powerful as ever.
Legendary American drummer Jimmy Cobb came to the Festival to interpret Miles Davis’
innovative album Kind of Blue. The only surviving member to have participated
in the original recording, Mr. Cobb, 80, was accompanied by the “young”
musicians of the So What Band (Larry Willis, Wallace Roney, Vincent Herring, Javon
Jackson and John Webber). Respecting the sequence of the original LP as it was conceived
50 years ago, Mr. Cobb valiantly performed So What and Freddie Freeloader
all the way to Flamenco Sketches, ensuring the role of metronome that Davis
had given him at the time.
For its 30th anniversary, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
honoured George Wein, the “father of all jazz festivals,” who, in 1954,
created the first event of its kind: the Newport Jazz Festival. Mr. Wein, 83, was
presented with a symbolic silkscreen of Louis Armstrong, a piece created
by Tony Bennett especially for the Festival. That same evening, the Boston native
settled behind the piano on the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe stage. Flanked
by his Newport All Stars – Lew Tabackin, Randy Sandke, Howard Alden, Peter
Washington and Lewis Nash – he gave a much-appreciated concert.