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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 3, No. 8

The Classical Music Lover's Guide to the Montreal Jazz Festival

by Philip Ehrensaft / June 1, 1998

Historian Grover Sales called jazz "America's Classical Music" and today everyone acknowledges jazz is serious music. There is no better place for classical music lovers to discover jazz than at the Montreal Jazz Festival (July 1-July 10, 1998), named north America's best jazz fest by the 1997 JazzTimes readers' poll. Here are my picks of the festival's "classic" jazz offerings ....

  • At the top of my list is pianist Cecil Taylor, 69 years young and one of the handful of great jazz innovators still walking the earth. His uncompromising avant-garde music - clustered piano playing redolent of the young Henry Cowell and daunting rhythmic and compositional intensity - isn't for everyone, but fans of twentieth-century repertoire shouldn't miss his solo concert on July 10 and his trio on July 11.
  • Classically trained trumpet player Wynton Marsalis, a leading light of the neo-conservative movement in jazz, brings his Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier July 4.
  • The 1998 festival features two other major contemporary jazz trumpeters. Tom Harrell, Downbeat readers' top jazz trumpeter this year, plays the intimate Salle Gesù (a perfect setting for jazz), July 10. David Douglas is a prime trumpet innovator of his generation. He emerged in New York's radical downtown scene but is supremely competent and comfortable in music ranging from neo-bop to the avant-garde to his own classical compositions. He leads a quartet at the Salle Gesù on July 5.
  • Guitar maestro John Scofield leads 7 concerts in the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. Take special note of the July 9 concert with tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, and the July 2 duo with a deliciously subtle guitarist, Jim Hall.
  • The New Latin American Jazz is the most innovative and exciting jazz development of the 1990s. Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sanchez plays in a trio, quintet and orchestra July 1. Catch Joe Lovano in a duo with Cuban piano dynamo Gonzalo Rubalcaba on July 9.
  • Other sax standouts: the mature mastery and musicality of the saxophonists' saxophonist Joe Henderson, on July 3. Don't miss the pyrotechnic virtuosity of young lion James Carter, who will blow the roof off the Spectrum on July 9. Montréal's world class reed player Jean Derome will play in two different trios on July 2 & 3.
  • French accordionist Richard Galliano brings five concerts of European jazz to Salle Gesù, July 2-6.

The full schedule of the 1998 Jazz Festival is available on the Net at www.montrealjazzfestival.worldlinx.com/   Tel: 888-515-0515. Tickets: 1- 800-361-4595, or Montreal: 790-1245.

(c) La Scena Musicale