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The Festival's Artistic Director, André Ménard takes a trip down memory lane and reminisces on some of the legendary names who have graced the Festival’s stages over the years.

Leonard CohenLeonard Cohen
It was a long-time dream to present Leonard Cohen at the Festival. It took many years of patience and the opportunity to do him a favour to make it happen in 2008.

Keith JarrettKeith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett concerts are always special. Place des Arts and the MSO would only let him use the rehearsal piano, so he flew his technician to Montréal and completely rebuilt the piano – at his own expense. A true virtuoso.

Ella FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald performed at the Festival in 1983 and 1987. A relaxed, down-to-earth- lady, she had a wry sense of humour.

John McLaughlinJohn McLaughlin
John McLaughlin was booked as headliner in 1994 in a triple bill at the Forum with Milton Nascimento and the brilliant Paco de Lucía, who stole the show.

Antonio Carlos Jobim Antonio Carlos Jobim
The Festival pursued Antonio Carlos Jobim for years. In 1986 he came to Montréal for the first time and was a hit on and off the stage.

Paco de LucíaPaco de Lucía
In 1984 Paco de Lucía refused to tour as opening act for Milton Nascimento but agreed to perform the one show in Montréal. A late flight necessitated dare-devil driving rewarded by a private warm-up concert.

Aretha FranklinAretha Franklin
In 2008 Aretha Franklin, whose voice did not like air-conditioning, required heaters on the path from the dressing room to her microphone on stage.

UZEBUZEB
UZEB played the Main Event for Montréal’s 350th birthday in 1992. It was their unofficial farewell concert.

Dave Holland and Jim HallDave Holland and Jim Hall
The 2000 Invitation Series was shared by bassist Dave Holland guitarist Jim Hall. Holland played a duet, trio, a quintet and achieved his dream of putting together a big band that went on to tour the world. Hall played duets with favourite musicians.

Artistic Director André Ménard thinks back on some historical musical meetings between star musicians

Bass DesiresBass Desires
In 1989 to orchestrate a performance of the recording quartet Bass Desires, the Festival booked separate shows on the same evening for all four members: John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine and Marc Johnson. The only live performance Bass Desires ever played was performed at midnight in Montréal. A dream concert for jazz aficionados.

Milton Nascimento, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Pat MethenyMilton Nascimento, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny
Making musical miracles requires vision, courage and brilliant timing. Milton Nascimento’s 1986 show was programmed on the same evening as performances by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, hoping to bring them all together on the same stage with surprise guest Pat Metheny. An unforgettable reunion.

Invitation SeriesInvitation Series
The Invitation Series was inaugurated for the Festival’s 10th anniversary to create bold and surprising pairings of musicians. This is a major programming challenge during the hectic touring season. Versatile bassist Charlie Haden was given eight evenings to showcase his diverse partnerships in duets and trios plus a reunion of the Liberation Music Orchestra. / One of Paul Bley’s early groups with Ornette Coleman included Charlie Haden. When Bley was invited to perform in Haden’s Invitation Series, his only stipulation was to be paid more than the headliner.

Oregon MarathonOregon Marathon
Oregon was a popular group in Montréal in the 1970s. In 1992, band members were invited to play individual sets with their new projects and special guests on the same bill, culminating in an Oregon reunion concert. The music flowed from 6 PM until after midnight.

Frank Morgan, Sir Roland Hanna, Barry Harris and Kenny Barron Frank Morgan, Sir Roland Hanna, Barry Harris and Kenny Barron
Mythical saxophonist Frank Morgan spent part of his career in jail because of his addiction. His return to the stage was celebrated with an album featuring his favourite pianists. In 1992 the Festival booked Sir Roland Hanna, Barry Harris and Kenny Barron to accompany Morgan separately and collectively. For the special occasion they all wore tuxedos.

1994 Invitation Series1994 Invitation Series
Ron Carter was a well-known bassist who had played with Miles Davis. For his 1994 Invitation Series he refused to play any music except for his own little-known compositions, which severely restricted the range of musical possibilities.

1995 Invitation Series1995 Invitation Series
The 1995 Invitation Series was shared by pianist Randy Weston and saxophonist David Murray. David Murray performed with the World Saxophone Quartet, solo, and a bass clarinet concert. Randy Weston displayed daring variety with Melba Liston’s string jazz ensemble, blues with Teddy Edwards, a night with ‘Spirit of Afrika’ and final evening with his all-star septet.

1996 Invitation Series1996 Invitation Series
The 1996 Invitation Series was given to local bassists Alain Caron and Michel Donato. Alain Caron performed with his local band plus international virtuosos Frank Gambale and Otmaro Ruiz, Didier Lockwood and Gil Goldstein. Michel Donato was more cautious, performing with Oliver Jones, singers Karen Young, Michel Rivard and the unknown future-star Gregory Charles.

1997 Invitation Series1997 Invitation Series
The 1997 Invitation Series was split between Ray Anderson and Bill Frisell. Ray Anderson performed a trombone summit, a blues evening and a collaboration with local star, and long-time fan, Bernard Primeau. Magical. Bill Frisell played it safe by performing solo, in duets with familiar collaborators Lee Konitz on sax and Jerry Douglas on dobro, plus his own quartet.

1998 Invitation Series1998 Invitation Series
In 1998 the Festival used the Invitation Series to introduce European star accordionist Richard Galliano to North America in five different concerts: a duet with Michel Portal, a duet with French cellist Jean-Charles Capon, New Your Tango, and an Italian trio plus a full chamber music concert with I Musici Orchestra. John Scofield’s half of the Invitation Series showed his boldness and diversity in six concerts with Jim Hall, Charlie Haden, The Dirty Dozen, Toots Thielemans and Joe Lovano.

1999 Invitation Series1999 Invitation Series
The 1999 Invitation Series featured Joe Lovano and Oliver Jones’ ‘retirement’ concerts. Oliver Jones displayed his full musical range from blues with Stephen Barry Band to Chamber Music with Angèle Dubeau’s La Pietà, and a concert with long-time Oscar Peterson collaborator Herb Ellis. Joe Lovano played quietly with Bill Frisell, explosively with John Scofield and dazzlingly in a Tenor Summit that included Michael Brecker.

Artistic Director André Ménard takes a trip down memory lane and reminisces on some less than glorious historic anecdotes from festivals passed.

Paul Bley and Chet BakerPaul Bley and Chet Baker
Paul Bley and Chet Baker made a beautiful recording in 1985. They were booked to perform in Montréal in 1986 but Chet Baker was in no condition to play. The disastrous show eventually led to a working relationship between the Festival and Gil Evans.

Dorothy Donegan and Phil WoodsDorothy Donegan and Phil Woods
The Piano Plus series used to alternate between solos and duets, which created fascinating parings. In 1988 an agent offered eccentric pianist Dorothy Donegan and old school saxophonist Phil Woods as a duet. Legendary jazz expert Len Dobbin's reaction: "Really? Donegan and Woods together?" The only people not surprised – or disappointed – by the 'duet' were Len Dobbin… and the avaricious agent.

Astor PiazzollaAstor Piazzolla
The Festival brought Astor Piazzolla to North American for the first time in 1984 and his concert was a sensation, immortalized on a TV recording. Charles Dutoit missed an opportunity to perform Piazzolla's symphonic music with the MSO.

Michel LegrandMichel Legrand
Michel Legrand was an international celebrity for his jazz music and film scores. He loved playing with Québec superstar Ginette Reno in 1986 but treated the musicians like cattle.

Vic Vogel Vic Vogel
Vic Vogel played the first 30 festivals in different formats. Zoot Sims and Vic loved drinking and playing together. Mel Tormé denigrated the local band and its conductor. Vic’s strangest experiments were a Cuban evening without Cuban musicians and a Swing Dance Ball where Vic’s band played feverish, undanceable bebop.

Weather ReportWeather Report
André Ménard and Alain Simard had presented Weather Report in their pre-jazz partnership. Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were booked for a double bill in 1990 but declined to perform an impromptu – and unremunerated – reunion.