THE OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
With a miniscule budget when compared to Montreal's, Jacques Emond and company celebrate their 25th year with a highly diverse and musical program. It all begins on June 23rd and ends on July 3rd with the majority of events taking place outdoors in Confederation Park, with afternoon sessions in the auditorium of the National Library and late night concerts in the Studio of the NAC. There are also the jam sessions with the host Mark Ferguson Trio in the Holiday Inn on nearby Cooper Street. Among those scheduled are Harry Connick Jr. with Branford Marsalis guesting, the quartet of guitarist Mike Rud, Hugh O'Connor and Ferguson with strings, Hugh Fraser and the large ensemble, Veji, guitarist Andrew Scott with Bernie Senensky, Duncan Hopkins, Joel Haynes and a front line of Bryden Baird, trumpet and Ryan Oliver, tenor, the Scantet of drummer Ed Thigpen, the Lorraine Desmarais big band, David Murray with the Gwo Ka Masters Creole Project, the Moutin (Brothers) Reunion with bassist Francois and drummer Louis joined by Rick Margitza, tenor and Baptiste Trotignon, piano, Sonny Rollins, vocalist Karen Oxorn, Bud Shank and Bill Mays, Benny Golson, Normand Guilbeault, Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay in "Visions of Kerouac", Dave Young's "Mainly Mingus", the voices (on the same night ) of Denzal Sinclaire and Diana Krall, the quartet of pianist Jon Ballantyne, guitarist Doug Wamble, the Lynne Arriale trio, Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, David Sanchez, and Joshua Redman.
L'OFF FESTIVAL DE JAZZ
This is year six for this musicians' Festival. It begins June 24 and continues through July 3 and scheduled are the Lorrie Goodman-Mike Gauthier organ trio, the Frank Lozano Quintet with Eric Harding, the Mathieu Belanger Quartet and guitarist Carl Naud at the Quai des brumes in 5:00 concerts. At O Patro Vys at 9:30 you can catch Richard Gagnon and Trombone Action featuring Roberto Murray, the Marianne Trudel Quartet and the large ensemble "Altsys," directed by Jennifer Bell with special guest, Vancouver-based guitarist Bill Coon, the Alex Bellegarde-Steve Million trio and a night of Janis Steprans with pianist Eric Harding and reedman-composer Joel Miller with his wonderful "Mandala" project. As in past years, the venerable Lion D'Or is the scene of most of the action which this year includes the Dave Turner Quartet with Dave Grott on trombone and Vanessa Rodrigues on B-3, the Julie Lamontagne Quartet featuring Dave Mossing on trumpet, Jean-Francois Groulx, Felix Stussi featuring Lozano and Eric Hove, the Min Rager Trio, Daniel Lessard on piano and bass with fellow bassists Michel Donato and Shane Mackenzie with three vocalists, Monique Fauteux, Martine Carriere and Sienna, Normand Guilbeault's Ensemble with "Mingus Erectus" and the internationally renowned duo of violinist Mark Feldman and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, the world-class Jensen sisters, Christine and Ingrid in a "Nordic Connection," that includes drummer Jon Wikan, a large ensemble led by reedman Carl Maraghi that includes Alex Cote, Roberto Murray, Miles Perkin, and Jon McCaslin, the trio of pianist Marianne Trudel and on closing night the Guy Nadon Quintet, a combo led by tenorman Yannick Rieu and a gigantic jam session with people like Ivanhoe Jolicoeur, Bellegarde and Claude Lavergne in the host band.
THE MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
If I were to pick THE night of the Festival it would have to be July 1st when indoor concerts include the Dave Holland Big Band, Viktoria Tolstoy, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Charles Lloyd Quartet (with Geri Allen), Enrico Rava and a Fred Hersch-Bobo Stenson double bill. Other ticketed events of the "not to be missed" variety are those featuring Sonny Rollins, the Bill Charlap Trio (with Ben Wolfe on bass), Dewey Redman, Claudia Acuna and the combinations of Randy Weston and Candido (in a Chano Pozo tribute), Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner, Ranee Lee and Oliver Jones and Harry Manx and Xavier Rudd.
If the indoor concerts are of lesser interest to the jazz devotee than in the past, the "free" shows offer a plethora of talent. For the blues fan there's Eddie Shaw, Leon Bibb and Montreal's wonderful Michael Jerome Browne. Vying for the General Motors "Grand Prix de Jazz" are bands led by bassists Sage Reynolds and Alex Bellegarde, B-3 Organ player Vanessa Rodrigues, guitarist Richard White and pianist-composers Min Rage and Stacie McGregor. In the large ensemble category we have Hugh Fraser's "Veji", the Joe Sullivan Big Band and The Montreal Jazz Big Band.
Other events worth you're attention are presentations by Nashville-based singer Annie Sellick, vibraphonist Matthias Lupri, Brooklyn-based pianist Jon Ballantyne's quartet, drummer Guy Nadon, pianist Julie Lamontagne, flutist Francois Richard, guitarist Mike Gauthier co-leading a group with B-3 player Lorrie Goodman. For some good fun music try Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards and Festival favourites The Streetnix.
For a sixth year, owner Joel Giberovitch opens the Upstairs bandstand to Festival jam sessions. Things get underway at 11:00pm and, from June 30th through July 9th, the host trio (pianist Jeff Johnston, bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Greg Ritchie) share the stage with a plethora of local and visiting musicians and singers. Past participants have included David Murray, Curtis Lundy, Ingrid Jensen, Mike Billard, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Annie Sellick, Jim Vivian, and Ranee Lee. An added attraction is the fact that the club's superb kitchen staff is on hand to supply a late night meal, of the gourmet variety, right up until closing.
To give you a peek at the future, Jeri Brown, Dave Binney, Guy Nadon, Dorothee Berryman, a group consisting of Stacy Rowles, Lorraine Desmarais, Rosemary Galloway, and Terry Clarke and Joel Miller's superb "Mandala Project" are all scheduled to appear at the club.
There are also late night jams at the FIJM in the host Hyatt Regency Hotel with the Thuryn von Pranke trio. Jazz is a nightly feature at House of Jazz, both Modavie locations, in Old Montreal and in South Shore Brossard and at Upstairs. Enjoy but do bring festival schedules along to simplify matters!
© Len Dobbin 2005
Montreal, Quebec, Canada