1994: 15 Years Already?
With the creation of a children's music park, the installation of tiered seats
juxtaposed with outdoor stages, more than 400 shows, 300 of which were free,
and some 1 500 000 visitors, the 15th edition of the Festival
International de Jazz de Montréal is remembered as an especially good year.
All in all, some 2 000 artists from a dozen countries descended on the
city. Among them were the regular visitors who personify the history of the Festival
and the new faces who promised great things to come.
The Female Voice
The female voice took centre stage in 1994. Torontonian Holly Cole opened the festivities at
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Since her trio's first visit in 1989, the singer with
the crystal-clear voice continued to gain in popularity. We also saw the return
of Dee Dee Bridgewater,
whose powerful and sensual voice captivated festivalgoers the summer before. This
time around the American singer delivered an inspired tribute to pianist Horace
Silver. The voice of contralto
Cassandra Wilson also resonated when she presented
her latest album Blue Light 'Til Dawn. And the amazing Montreal singer
joined in the day dedicated to Billie Holiday, who'd departed 35 years earlier.
The first visit by
Cesaria Evora was a high point of this anniversary year. Stepping
barefoot onto the stage at the Spectrum, the diva sang airs from her native Cap
Return of the Greats
Another major event of the 15th anniversary: the concert given at the Forum by master
guitarists John McLaughlin
and Paco de Lucía,
who shared the stage with Brazilian Milton Nascimento. The three
musicians cooked up a cultural stew worthy of the best chefs. McLaughlin
was also the first recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created that same
year to honour an international musician who contributes to the development of jazz.
Strunz & Farah, The Rosenberg Trio and
Bratsch, three groups that set fire to the Festival in 1991, came back
to do it again for the outdoor show La Nuit des Gitans. More than 90 000 fevered
fans swayed to the sound of tzigane songs. Also there in 1994: the father of the
modern jazz trombone, J.J. Johnson, prodigious trumpeter Wynton Marsalis,
and bassist Ron Carter, who was the focus of the Invitation
On this anniversary year, these beloved jazz artists encapsulated the Festival's
history con brio, with all of the musical richness it had offered from
the very beginning. Plus, in a world first, bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Hank Jones
joined forces in a performance that led to the recording of the CD Steal Away:
Spirituals, Hymns and Folk Songs. The year 1994 also saw young saxophone
prodigy Joshua Redman
establish himself as a supremely talented reed man.
Not to be outdone, Africa shone with a million fires: while Ugandan Geoffrey
Oryema - Peter Gabriel's young protegé - appeared for his
first time at the Festival to play the rich sounds from his album Beat the Border,
Senegalese Youssou N'Dour came back to enthral us with his
bewitching voice. Nigerian King Sunny Ade took the stage at the
Spectrum with a troupe of 18 musicians.
Finally, Oliver Jones,
Montreal jazz piano superstar, closed out this edition, which also honoured several
other local artists. Promising young guitarist Benoît Charest
visited for the first time, well before the release of his triumphant Les Triplettes
de Belleville soundtrack.
The "Night of the Gypsies" event, which brings together Strunz & Farah, The Rosenberg
Trio and Bratsch, attracts more than 90,000 people to the downtown.
Guitarist John McLaughlin is the first winner of the Miles Davis Award, now presented
annually to an international musician who has influenced the development of jazz.
Paco de Lucía, Milton Nascimento, Brian Setzer and George Benson are among the big
names that appear at this summer’s Festival.
Watch the video and see the program to learn more…