Guitar figured prominently in this 28th edition of jazz’s Greatest Show on Earth. Such premier plectorists as Mike Stern, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, John Abercrombie, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Allan Holdsworth and Russell Malone represented the jazzier aspects of the instrument while Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, Bryan Lee, Derek Trucks, Chris Duarte and David Gogo showcased the bluesy side. Throw in the third annual Montreal Guitar Show, a gathering of luthiers showcasing their beautiful handmade wares-from Canada’s Godin, Seattle’s McElroy and Oneonta’s Vinny Colletti to Pat Metheny’s personal luthier Linda Manzer-and you had six-string nirvana happening north of the border.
Of course, there were other things happening in Montreal during these 11 days and nights; namely, Bob Dylan, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr., Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Billy Cobham, Béla Fleck, Branford Marsalis, Van Morrison, Kurt Elling, Mark Murphy and about 500 other concerts at the festival’s 10 free outdoor stages and dozen paid indoor venues. But during my five days of coverage (July 4-8), I focused primarily on two things: the guitar in its many facets and bassist-vocalist extraordinaire Richard Bona (pictured), the featured Invitation series guest during the festival’s second week (Mike Stern had that honor during the first week).