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Anniversary Editions of the Festival

Vic Vogel Big Band

1984: Five Alive!

By the time the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal marked its fifth anniversary, it was already considered by many to be the world's premier jazz event. From June 29 to July 8, 1984, the Festival played host to some 800 musicians from about 15 countries. As well as pay tribute to French jazz, the 1984 edition of the Festival prepared to welcome celebrated violinist Stéphane Grappelli and Argentinian bandoneón virtuoso Astor Piazzolla.

With a quarter of a million visitors expected to descend on the city for the Festival's birthday, most of Montreal's major concert venues were mobilized, and several shows were held in bars and cafés on Saint-Denis Street – the focal point of the festivities. Played out on 14 indoor and outdoor stages, the program included 25 shows per day as well as four special events and an impressive series of concerts.

Memorable Moments

Legendary drummer Buddy Rich and his orchestra kicked off the Festival at Théâtre Saint-Denis. Then, in a memorable anniversary gala, the Montréal Forum hosted the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, then celebrating its 50th anniversary. Under the direction of Charles Dutoit, the OSM took the stage with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and Montréal pianist Oscar Peterson.

Also leaving his mark on the 1984 edition was Pat Metheny, who gave no less than five concerts. Already a favourite among Festival fans, the guitarist performed in the intimate confines of Club Soda alongside bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins.

The French jazz showcase closing out the Festival more than lived up to expectation, as singer Claude Nougaro, clarinetist and saxophonist Michel Portal, violinist Didier Lockwood and pianists Maurice Vander and Martial Solal shared the stage at Théâtre Saint-Denis in a performance that holds a special place in Festival history.

In Distinguished Musical Company

The year 1984 also marked a first visit to the Festival for singer Bobby McFerrin – a rising star at the time. We'll also remember the unlikely reunion of master guitarists Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd, as well as the prestigious concerts given by tenor sax player Sonny Rollins and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.

Big bands were given top billing at the 1984 Les Grands Concerts series, which featured the Vic Vogel Big Band, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and the Toshiko Akiyoshi – Tabackin Big Band, while the Pianissimo series, not to be undone, starred Paul Bley, Michel Petrucciani, Oliver Jones and Steve Kuhn.

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