Returning for Its 39th Year and Bending Its Boundaries Yet Again
By Alisa B. Cherry
Anyone who has ever been to Montreal can attest to the fact that there’s no need for an excuse when it comes to making it part of one’s travel plans. It’s rich in history, a remarkable confluence of cultures and home to some of the most remarkable restaurants and interesting architecture found in the whole of North America.
Nevertheless, those that do need incentive would be wise to consider the annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which takes place from June 28 through July 7, one of summer’s most memorable musical events. Offering a variety of talent that incorporates jazz (natch), folk, rock and experimental ensembles — around 150 concerts altogether, some entirely free — within theaters, clubs and a spacious pedestrian mall, it’s easy, accessible and pedestrain friendly.
Montreal is the ideal setting for this annual event because as a beacon for international tourism, it makes the international variety practically a given. As it approaches its 39th year, the festival has attained the same stature as Montreux, Newport and New Orleans as a beacon for great music, with an additional additive in its accessibility that welcomes aficionados near and far.
While the headliners are, of course, the main reason for attending, the venues themselves are well worth noting as well, from the sprawling confines of the performing arts center — a combination of three world-class concert halls (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Maison Symphonique De Montreal and Theatre Maisonneuve) — to the array of clubs and cabarets that dot the nearby streets. 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, along with numerous other internationally known artists and up and coming performers clearly on the verge of future success.
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. Audiences get an opportunity to enjoy a wide array of innovation and invention, artists that find a common bond with tradition while also setting a course towards the future.
This year for the first time, the festival will extend its offerings by filming several of the concerts and broadcasting them live worldwide. A partnership with Mezzo Live HD which will allow Bela Fleck & The Flecktones to be shared with worldwide audiences 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.