Anniversary Editions of the Festival
2004: 25 Years and Much to Celebrate
Who could have predicted in 1980 that the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
would become, in 2004, the biggest event of its kind in the world? To celebrate
a quarter century of cultural cross-breeding and musical discovery, the Festival
increased its number of outside events. The closing concert blowout Soleil de Minuit
(Midnight Sun) attracted over 200 000 people.
Under the Stars
While American crooner
Tony Bennett was making his long-awaited return to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
for the opening indoor concert, the outdoor festivities were in full swing with
a special event featuring
Johnny Clegg, who shared the stage with fellow South African
vocal group Ladysmith
Black Mambazo and
Lorraine Klassen, a Montrealer of South-African origin, to
mark the 10 years since the end of apartheid.
On July 4, a sea of bodies swayed to the music of the legendary Funk Brothers from Detroit. Six days later,
electrified the Soirée commemorative du 25e at Place des Nations on Île
Sainte-Hélène. The Montréal pianist, who had not missed a single
edition in 25 years, performed in the same venue he had performed in
at the closing of the very first Festival.
The ultimate in outdoor gatherings would be the closing show Soleil de Minuit (Midnight
Sun), co-produced by
Cirque du Soleil, also celebrating 20 years of existence. That
evening, a magical atmosphere permeated St. Catherine Street, where some 200 000 curious spectators had crowded together. This impressive soirée under the
stars was also broadcast live on Radio-Canada television. Among the many artists
highlighted were Youssou
N'Dour, Zachary Richard
In the wake of this vintage anniversary year, the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award was established to
honour an outstanding world music artist. The first statuette was presented to
With the warmth he is known for, this emblematic granddaddy
of the Buena Vista Social Club gave one last concert to Festival-goers
before passing away in August 2005. Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba also joined in, sharing
the stage with Brazilian singer and guitarist Joao Bosco. Add to
that the talented and sadly missed singer of Mexican-American origin Lhasa de Sela, who launched the Chants d'Amérique
series and released her second album, The Living Road.
While the year 2004 brought together a myriad of legends - Chick Corea,
Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau,
Wynton Marsalis, etc.
- it also saw several young writers-composers-performers teeming with
talent appear at the Festival for the first time, among them the marginal Amy Whinehouse,
the queen of alternative folk Ani DiFranco, and Québec's own Ariane Moffatt.
Meetings at the Summit
Following their highly touted appearance in 1995, guitarist Al Di Meola, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, and bass player
again took the stage to present a number of cuts from their cult-album
Rite of Strings. Also, Canadian singer k.d. lang added her voice to the explosive sounds
of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and Brazilian
guitarist and pianist
Egberto Gismonti performed with I Musici de Montréal.
Finally, how can one not mention the closing concert bringing together on the stage
two Montrealers and giants of jazz piano - Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones - the pair
of friends presenting to its audience a musical anthology of sorts.