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

Live Review: 2019 Montreal Jazz Festival, Weekend 1

Brad Mehldau, Ravi Coltrane, Melody Gardot, Edmar Castañeda, and Melissa Aldana are among the 40th fest’s early highlights

Melody Gardot at the 2019 Montreal International Jazz Festival
Melody Gardot at the 2019 Montreal International Jazz Festival (photo: Benoit Rousseau/Festival International de Jazz de Montréal)

One way to define a music festival: the sum of its memorable moments. There were plenty of those moments to savor during the first four days of the 40th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which kicked off in late June on 20 stages in the city’s downtown Quartier des Spectacles.  

Which highlights were the most resonant? Tough choice. Ravi Coltrane, during his encore, did some earth-scorching via his father’s classic “Giant Steps.” Melody Gardot, after a thunderous standing ovation, opened her show with a hushed, affecting version of vintage Americana gem “Wayfaring Stranger.” The War & Treaty, under sometimes rainy skies, thrilled the Saturday-night crowd with a soulful explosion touching on “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” and “Respect.” Edmar Castañeda, on the aptly titled “For Jaco,” played his harp like a bass guitar, spinning out long, lean lines and harmonics. Afro-Cuban giant Chucho Valdés concluded his set with several gorgeously realized standards. Brad Mehldau, leading an all-star group, dug deep into gospel-blues terrain on Oliver Nelson’s “Yearnin’.” Donny McCaslin cranked it up on a roaring maelstrom of fusion, art-pop, and newfangled prog-rock.

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.

Philip Booth

Philip Booth is a longtime arts journalist and bass player based in Florida. Formerly the pop music critic for the Tampa Tribune, he has contributed to many national publications, recently including the Washington PostJazziz, and Relix. His byline also has appeared in DownBeat, Bass Player, Billboard, Variety, Spin, Rolling Stone, and several academic journals. The debut CD from his band, Acme Jazz Garage, gained airplay on about 35 radio stations across the US.