Anniversary Editions of the Festival
2009: A Colourful and High-spirited 30th Edition!
To mark its 30th anniversary in 2009, the Festival International de Jazz de
Montréal inaugurated its new Maison du Festival on Sainte-Catherine Street,
as well as the Place des Festivals in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles.
In a baptism under the stars, tens of thousands poured into this vast public space
to hear American music legend Stevie Wonder.
To celebrate in style and highlight the new Place des Festivals, a record number
of outdoor shows were presented, with Afro-American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder leading the way. Before
an estimated crowd of 150 000, the supremely talented musician performed a number
of his hits and paid a moving tribute to his friend Michael Jackson,
who'd passed away just a few days earlier.
Also among the high points of the Festival's 2009 edition was the sublime performance
by Patrick Watson.
Flanked by a string quartet and a few brass instruments, the Montréal native
delivered an audacious show, the beauty of his songs heightened by the strings and
As part of the Grande Soirée
Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae, Jamaican musicians Ken Boothe, Stranger Cole, Hopeton Lewis, Leroy Sibbles, The Tamlins, Marcia Griffiths
and Judy Mowatt
gave fans a history lesson on the beloved music of their country.
Added to this were three special events: pianist and singer Florence K brought the crowd to
their feet with her salsa, jazz and bossa nova rhythms, while electrifying Canadian
guitarist Jesse Cook
served up a pungent cocktail of flamenco, jazz and rumba. Finally, despite a major
downpour, young Montréal diva Nikki Yanofsky served notice that she is a worthy
heir to Ella Fitzgerald.
Closing out the Festival was the
Fiesta cubana featuring the
Afro-Cuban All Stars and Los Van Van, followed by a concert
by Ben Harper and
Relentless7, which drew thousands of music lovers to the Place
Baptisms for the Year 2009
The year 2009 saw the Festival open the Maison du Festival – now a year-round
fixture on Sainte-Catherine Street – and L'Astral, its spanking new performance
venue baptised on June 30 by
Oliver Jones and
Ranee Lee. It was also in 2009 that Festival created
Bruce Lundvall Award, presented annually to a prominent
non-musician who has left a mark on the world of jazz. The first such award went
to none other than Mr. Lundvall himself, the president of
the mythical Blue Note label.
first appearance at the Fest did not go unnoticed, as the gravel-voiced Englishman
performed pieces from his 2007 album, Hymn for My Soul. Also getting their
first taste of the stage at the Festival were guitar titan Jeff Beck and singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, an American icon
from the 1970s.
Many happy returns
The Festival's 30th anniversary also marked the return of two jazz legends,
and Chucho Valdés.
A saxophonist and composer who helped to pioneer the free jazz movement, Coleman
was presented with the 2009 Miles Davis Award, while Valdés, the virtuoso
Cuban pianist, burned up the stage at Théâtre Maisonneuve. And in another
visit from jazz royalty, 89-year-old pianist Dave Brubeck celebrated the 50th anniversary
of his iconic album, Time Out. Also singled out for praise were the three
shows given by American sax man and Festival stalwart, Joshua Redman.
Finally, the closing indoor concert gave rise to an onstage transposition of Montréal Variations, an album featuring
a who's who of great Québec-based pianists, including Oliver Jones, François Bourassa, Alain Lefèvre,
and Lorraine Desmarais.