Celebrate Summer at the annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Typical crowd watching music on an outdoor stage at night during the Montreal Jazz Festival. Photo taken by Alisa B. Cherry

By Lee Zimmerman

The annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which takes place from June 28 through July 7 in — where else? — the heart of downtown Montreal, has become one of summer’s most memorable highlights, given its variety of talent (no, this isn’t strictly about jazz anymore), the number of concerts and events (150 at last count) and the remarkable setting within a bank of theaters, clubs and a spacious pedestrian mall. For said pedestrians, it’s ideal, with walks between the various venues taking no more than a matter of minutes. In fact, Montreal literally seems to embrace its namesake festival, not only because it hosts it in the city center but because it’s a beacon for international tourism. After 38 years, the festival ranks with Montreux, Newport and New Orleans as one of the most venerable musical gatherings in the world, and its accessibility to both Europe and the U.S. makes it a magnet for music lovers both near and far.

Naturally, the festival’s main draw is its headliners. Those artists can be found performing in either the sprawling performing arts center — a combination of three world-class concert halls (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Maison Symphonique De Montreal and Theatre Maisonneuve) — or the array of clubs and cabarets that dot the festival’s periphery. This year’s festival will feature any number of artists with worldwide appeal — Ian Anderson at the helm of Jethro Tull’s 50th anniversary tour, Boz Scaggs, Herbie Hancock, Ry Cooder, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Bobby McFerrin, Carla Bley, Soft Machine, My Brightest Diamond, John Medeski, Marc Ribot, and any number of other internationally known artists whose range and repertoire cross the divide from jazz to the mainstream to a more progressive posture.

Consequently, over the course of ten days or so, attendees can get an entertaining lesson in a wide range of musical invention, as well as a sense of this spectacular city, Like the city itself, the festival gains distinction through diversity.

Which means of course that it is all about variety.

Consequently, over the course of ten days, attendees can get an entertaining lesson in a wide range of musical invention, as well as a sense of this spectacular city, each of which find a common bond with tradition while also looking ahead towards the future. As Joe Jackson once noted, Montreal isn’t all about jazz anymore. Like the city itself, it gains distinction through diversity.

That will now be on display worldwide as well, thanks to a partnership with Mezzo LIve HD which will film several of this year’s concerts and broadcast them live worldwide. The first artist to be included in these offerings is Bela Fleck & The Flecktones on SUnday, July 1. Other concerts scheduled for broadcast will be announced later.

Tickets for the 39th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal are on sale now. Go to montrealjazzfest.com.

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