A few words about the Festival

Music is quite simply one of the finest manifestations of the human spirit.
Music is a realm that stretches on forever, never ceasing to gift us with surprises and wonderment.
It is no accident that passionate people here, as well as current and future Montrealers have continuously converged on this Festival for 39 summers.

Now more a witness than an actor in this beautiful cultural miracle, I continue to be astonished by the diversity it offers and the quality of the performances it affords us.
And it must be said that the development of these programs is a labour of love for all the passionate people who work on it. I’ll mention that to you again at the close of this column.

Of course, the passing of years provides me with plenty of memories, along with amazing indications of programming continuity or culmination in the list of artists attending.

For example, the very late arrival of Ry Cooder reminds me that we tried to present him way back in 1985 in the wake of the success of the film Paris, Texas and its magnificent soundtrack. But there was nothing to be done—our man simply wasn’t touring.  Ditto for his many subsequent projects. So imagine my surprise when I learned that this time, it was his agents who had contacted the Festival!
Yes, all things come to he who waits…

And yes, I can smile with a great sense of nostalgia at the knowledge that English group Soft Machine will be with us this year.
Their last visit here dates back to the spring of 1974. Our founder, Alain Simard, already a producer and tour operator way back then, invited me to co-produce the concert at the college where I worked as organizer of the student union.
A long-ago spark of the Festival, no doubt! There were very many more to come.

The return of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, this time holding the prestigious Miles Davis Award, is very special indeed.
As one of the great favourites of my journey as a “professional spectator,” the group (a first for this award, usually presented to a solo musician) hereby receives highly deserved recognition for their perseverance and endless creativity. Bravo!

And what can I say about the thrill I derive from the presence of Robert Lepage and the great Betty Bonifassi, revisiting her magisterial revival of slave and work songs in a world premiere, SLĀV in the TNM?
I simply cannot wait to see it.

Add in a ton of highly anticipated return engagements and an impressive, stunning array of new discoveries, each as appealing as the last.
This program that you hold in your hands or read online offers you plenty of details.
Open your heart and your spirit as wide as possible!
This is what our exceptional talent seekers spend the entire year doing.
To name them: first and foremost, the commander of the troop, Laurent Saulnier, accompanied by his lieutenant Maurin Auxéméry and also supported by Fred Lamoureux and Joakim Morin.
At the dawn of the Festival’s 40th year, they represent the artistic heart of this great event, guaranteeing its constant and continual renewal going forward.

I offer them my tremendous thanks,

André Ménard
Co-founder and Vice President
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal


A world waiting to be discovered…

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal’s programming team brings the best music from around the world to its outdoor and indoor venues, and this year is no different. They have unearthed bands and artists that we didn’t even know about a year ago and booked them to perform on stages throughout the Festival. They come from all over the world: Turkey, New Zealand, Haiti, Cape Verde, but also from the United States, England and, sometimes, as close as… Montreal!

We discover emerging talents and then tell everyone. It’s what we do. Of course, we could tell you about Stephane Moraille—yes, you’ve already heard her sing with Bran Van 3000, but come and discover her singing solo! We could also tell you that Jupiter & Okwess is one of the best groups in years to come out of the African continent, or that if you enjoy the exquisite flavours of a saxophone-accordion duet, Émile Parisien and Vincent Peirani are the musicians to see. And yes, I know, you’ve most probably seen DreamWorks’ hit films a thousand times with your kids (or those of others…), but on the big screen with the music performed live by the Orchestre Métropolitain, it is a whole other story. We could also tell you that not only is !!! a super good club band but you’ll be able to groove to them on the TD scene; and as to Jessie Reyez, if you think she sounds good on your sound system, wait until you see her on stage!

The Festival is also a place of creation. We have the first fifteen performances of SLĀV, the new show by Robert Lepage and Betty Bonifassi. It is a show that lives up to the combined talent of these two extraordinary creators. Creation is also Re : création, the second year of this quirky series, where musicians get to recreate disparate repertoires: French pianist Laurent de Wilde will play his mentor, Thelonious Monk; Franco-Canadian-Haitian Mélissa Laveaux will immerse herself in the music of her childhood; and Jesse Mac Cormack will rethink the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Also in this series, we will be revisiting two legendary albums of popular world culture: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, recreated by Lucioles and directed by pianist Guillaume Martineau; and the Beatles’ White Album, by Number 9, a collective of 17 Montréal musicians.

One last thing: don’t forget the final day of the Festival is July 7. Try to enjoy it before it ends. Have fun!

Laurent Saulnier
Vice President Programming