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Special Preview: The Montreal Jazz Festival Turns 40

What to expect at this summer’s fest—the last to be run by co-founders André Ménard and Alain Simard

A poster for one of the original Montreal Jazz Festival shows in 1979
Seen framed on the wall of André Ménard’s office: A poster for one of the original 1979 Montreal Jazz Festival shows and (above Keith Jarrett’s head) a ticket to that same concert—the very first ticket sold for the festival (photo: Sharonne Cohen)

The largest jazz festival in the world—the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal—kicks off June 27, transforming Montreal’s downtown core into a massive venue spanning half a square mile, with nearly 30 outdoor and indoor stages. This mammoth 10-day musical feast will present 150 ticketed concerts and over 300 free outdoor shows, as a blend of local and international artists represent the many facets of jazz and beyond.

There’s a lot in store for this special edition, André Ménard—the festival’s co-founder and VP—tells JT. “The day before the official opening,” he says, “the French accordionist Richard Galliano will present two concerts in one: first a duet with legendary bassist Ron Carter, then a tribute to [French composer] Michel Legrand, with a local string quartet. This was my special request, and is a gift from heaven.” As in previous years, the programming includes jazz artists from around the globe, from Paris to London (tuba player Theon Cross), Cuba to Scandinavia (see the ECM series below). “The festival has always been about great American music, but we take into account all the other jazz scenes in the world.”

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