Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Live at the Gesù

First of two reviews from Sharonne Cohen on performances from the 32nd edition of festival held in Montreal on June 25 through July 4, 2011

Anat Cohen Quartet performing during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival
Stéphane Belmondo Quartet performing during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival
Apex performing during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival
Geri Allen performing with her group Timeline during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival
The Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig Trio performing during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival
FLY performing during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society performing during the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is essentially a 10-day block party spanning a square kilometer, kicking off at 11 a.m. and running late into the night, offering everything from jazz, Dixieland and blues to pop, African, Brazilian, Portuguese, Cuban and R & B. With a staggering number of concerts featuring nearly 3,000 musicians from around the world, the festival-now in its 32nd year-is truly an international, multicultural musical feast. Among over 180 ticketed indoor shows, jazz heads were offered a wide assortment of jazz in all its various hues. But the extraordinary number (150) of free, outdoor shows spoke to the festival organizers’ focus on offering a wealth of music to all.

Suggestive of its broad appeal, the festival’s pre-opening, sold out concerts on June 24th were Robert Plant & The Band of Joy and Prince. The festival officially opened on June 25th with several highlights: Paco de Lucía, Brad Mehldau solo (both sold out), Milton Nascimento, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog (part of his three-night Invitation Series) and many others. I kicked off Day 1 with the Dave Binney Quartet (see below); then it was on to the grand opening event-a mega outdoor concert on the festival’s main stage by French soul sensation Ben L’Oncle Soul (thankfully, the rain had stopped for the occasion). The band laid down some funky grooves, revisiting ’60s Motown classics and contemporary pop-rock hits; I caught a few tunes before dashing over to the Upstairs Jazz Bar to hear Gilad Hekselman’s second set (see Part 2). An opening night full of promise of things to come.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published