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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 10, No. 9

FIJM, Drawing in the Crowds

August 7, 2005

For years now, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM) draws an estimated two million visitors. Economics are up front, from the corporate sponsors to the selection of music determined by "impressive album sales" — as stated on more than one occasion during the press conference announcing this year’s lineup. From a musical point of view, this means lots of crowd pleasers for a general audience, emphasizing established stylists for mainstream tastes, but with a dash of adventure for the more discerning.

According to the press release, the festival offers "the sounds of jazz and its diverse musical cousins". During its eleven-day run starting on June 30, there will be 150 indoor concerts divided into 15 series, its bill also includes hip hop artists, DJs, pop singers, rock guitarists, soul and blues bands. The reasoning here is that more accessible music will bring crowds to jazz which might not gravitate to it otherwise. (This same logic also applies to the 350 plus free outdoor shows, to be announced in early June.)

The popular concerts, scheduled in the "Pleins feux" series (at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts) are the priciest ones, but with big names like Mark Knopfler, Cesaria Evora, Roberta Flack with Al Jarreau, and Paul Anka, these aren’t really part of the jazz turf. More noteworthy, though, are the "Grands concerts" at the adjacent Théâtre Maisonneuve, with such notables as Stanley Clarke/Bela Fleck/Jean-Luc Ponty, Dave Holland’s Big Band, harmonicist Toots Thielemans and pianist Kenny Werner with guests Pat Metheny and Paolo Fresu. Elsewhere, the "Jazz Beat" series features mainstreamers like Roy Hargrove, Charles Lloyd, Randy Weston, Enrico Rava, and Bill Frisell. In the "Jazz contemporain" series, one can hear more adventurous music like the Belgian band Octurn, the Tim Postgate Horn band with guest Howard Johnson, and trombonist Steve Swell. Not to be overlooked either is the "Jazz dans la nuit" series with names like Dewey Redman, the solo pianos of Fred Hersch and Bobo Stenson, and Paolo Fresu’s trio. Lastly, local talent is at a prime at the "Jazz d’ici" series with top notch talents like Rémi Bolduc, Charles Papasoff, François Bourassa (with Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay) and the Altsys Nonet.

After last year’s hiatus, the "Ciné-jazz" series is back, with a slate of rarely screened films. A new addition this year is the "Montreal Musicians and Musical Instrument Show" with displays and master classes by festival musicians, an event that runs from July 7 to 10 in the Complexe Desjardins. In spite of the economic imperative governing this event, there may be, after all, enough jazz to keep the aficionado happy. PS


toll free: 1-800-515-0515 / local: 514-871-1881

Having Fun at the Invitational Series

One of the unique features of festivals is the ability to bring together artists with common interests but with different personalities and approaches. This aspect is built into a few of the shows, where musicians with established careers as leaders meet up with their peers for potentially interesting, high caliber encounters. This treat is a central feature of the two artists who share the yearly "Invitational Series". First up this year is Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, followed by festival darling Pat Metheny. Hussain’s guests for his four-night stand at the Monument National will be sarengi player Sultan Khan, a group of Master Percussionists from India, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and drummer Eric Harland, with John McLaughlin for the final act. Metheny is giving five concerts in different venues, starting with his trio (comprised of Scott Colley and Antonio Sanchez). There is also a series of reunions, one in duo with Charlie Haden, then a trio with Gary Burton and Steve Swallow, and a bill with guitarist Mick Goodrick and the Dewey Redman trio. PS

TD Trust Ottawa International

Jazz Festival

Going Strong at 25

Second in longevity after Montreal, Ottawa has tailored its festival to the size of the city, mixing outdoor shows with indoor ones, with few overlaps. For tourists, most venues of this listener-friendly event are within walking distance of each other, the main ones being the Confederation Park band shell and the National Arts Center right across the street. Opening night (June 24, at the National Library of Canada), there will be a world premiere concert pairing a most unusual combination, Brandford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. (!). During its ten day run, which ends on July 3, 38 ticketed shows, divided into five series are on the bill as well as free daytime concerts and late night jam sessions at the Holiday Inn (111, Cooper Street). Topping the bill for this year’s edition are living jazz legends like Sonny Rollins and Benny Golson, trumpet star Terrence Blanchard, the ubiquitous tenorman David Murray and fellow cutting-edge reedists Roscoe Mitchell and Evan Parker. Also of note is a varied contingent of Canadian jazzmen and women, including Vancouver’s Hugh Fraser (and his VEJI orchestra), Montreal’s Lorraine Desmarais and her newly formed big band as well as the savvy Derome-Guilbeault-Tanguay trio. Marc Chénard

http://www.ottawajazzfestival.com 1-613-241-2633


20 Years of Dedication

After a trial run in 1985, Vancouver’s jazz festival elevated itself to an international standing during that city’s World Exhibit held the following year. Now called the TD Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival, this much celebrated event marks its twentieth anniversary from June 24 to July 3. Spearheaded by the local jazz initiative, the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, this ten day splurge spread throughout the city caters to a wide range of tastes from mainstream jazz acts, world beat, and a wide assortment of music with an edge, truly one of its best suits. Thanks to the vision of its artistic director Ken Pickering, many special projects involving local and international talent are strewn throughout the program. Not forgotten are large ensembles whose personnel also perform in small group mix-and-match situations. While headliners like Diana Krall (slated for two shows), Dave Holland, Bill Frisell and legendary bop drummer Roy Haynes are star attractions, the great artistic coup this year remains the world exclusive performance of the British Dedication Orchestra, a 25 piece outfit built around South-African expatriate drummer Louis Moholo. Out of this group, there will be no less than 19 mix-and-match satellite concerts, involving both local and guest musicians from the UK. Marc Chénard

http://www.coastaljazz.ca 1-604-872-5200


The One Two Combination

Despite being overshadowed by Vancouver’s event (at least in size), the capital city of Victoria has its own jazz happening, which is actually the senior one of the two. Since its inception 21 years ago by the Victoria Jazz Society, the Victoria International Jazz Festival has worked closely with its neighbour in bringing a wide array of great names to its fair city. This year is no exception, with drumming legends Roy Haynes (80 years young!) and Ed Thigpen (74 and counting). Although veterans, neither one shows signs of slowing down. Like all major events, it too crosscuts many styles, including world (the ever popular Cesaria Evora) and many strands of jazz. In total 60 different bands and over 300 musicians from a dozen countries will cross the Georgian Straight during its ten-day run (June 24 to July 3). Beyond the shows, the festival also stages workshops and clinics. Jazz lingers on until the end of the month in the city, as the Victoria Conservatory of Music holds its annual Summer Jazz Workshop (July 18 to 23). A twelve-member faculty (including trombonist Hugh Fraser and veteran reedman Paul Horn) will direct budding talents through big band, as well as small combo and vocal sessions, reserving the final two days of the session for public concerts at the Alix Goolden Performance Hall. Marc Chénard

http://www.vicjazz.com 1-250-388-4423

Victoria Conservatory: http://www.vcn.bc.ca/jazz.html

Toll free: 1-800-386-5311

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