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
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
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
and Montréal pianist
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,
and Steve Kuhn.