The Montreal International Jazz Festival is going into its 32nd season, and once again the organizers are offering a huge variety of music to suit most musical tastes.
Jazz aficionados will be pleased to know that they can attend jazz performances on a daily basis. Over the decades, the festival has expanded its musical horizons to include R&B, blues and even some rock ‘n’ roll, with performers such as Blue Rodeo performing this year.

The effect has been to expand the fan base and ultimately to introduce more festival goers to various styles of jazz. There is a wonderful atmosphere around the Quartier des Spectacles surrounding Place des Arts; and most people attending an indoor concert are drawn to the outdoor events as well.

The presence of the world’s largest Jazz Festival has had a positive effect on the local jazz scene – providing both an audience that appreciates jazz, plus clubs and concert halls for the performers and fans to come together.

Montreal, the city that launched Oscar Peterson’s career and accepted Jackie Robinson as a legitimate baseball star has provided a fertile environment for Montreal musicians.

This year’s festival has an impressive list of international stars playing alongside a solid delegation of Montreal artists.

The Salle Wilfred Pelletier concerts include performances by perennial festival favourite Tony Bennett. “He has a standing offer to perform with us, and we’re happy that he accepted our invitation to perform this year,” commented Andr‚ M‚nard.

At 85 Tony Bennett still has a commanding vocal presence and his trademark phrasing continues to put a swing into his material from The American Songbook.

The phenomenal Nikki Yanofsky made her Jazz Fest debut five years ago, performing on a Ste-Catherine Street outdoor stage where she seemed to be channeling the voice of the great Ella Fitzgerald. What made her performance remarkable beyond her obvious talent was that Nikki was just 12 years old. “We’ve watched Nikki grow up before our eyes and ears,” noted festival Artistic Director and co-founder Andre M‚nard. “This year our Nikki will be performing on the Salle Wilfred Pelletier Stage with the Orchestre M‚tropolitain in what is sure to be a fantastic event.” Nikki has recently released her first album, and she is in big demand throughout North America, Europe and Japan. Nikki has earned the respect of the musicians with considerably more experience because they recognize her talent.

Once again, two American Big Bands will compete in a friendly Battle of the Bands when The Artie Shaw Orchestra and the Glenn Miller Orchestra take the stage on Sunday June 6 at 2 pm. The orchestras use the same charts and arrangements that the original bandleaders penned generations ago during 40s.

For most of the concert the bands alternate while occupying the massive Salle Wilfred Pelletier stage; but when they occasionally combine and play simultaneously, the sound of over 30 musicians playing with gusto is wonderful to hear – and feel!

k.d. lang has returned to the country rock music that capturing our hearts when she first burst onto the music scene thirty years ago. She’ll be accompanied on June 27 by her band Siss Boom Bang.
Don McLean will perform his anthem for a generation American Pie on July 3 when he shares the Salle Wilfred Pelletier stage with America (Horse With No Name) in what promises to be an outstanding double bill.

In the more intimate Théatre Maisonneuve, Dave Brubeck will perform with his Quartet on June 28.

Brubeck has performed at almost all of the 32 Montreal Jazz Festivals. Colin James will perform acoustically with Chris Caddell in a performance titled Up Close and Personal.

Montrealers have a love affair with Oliver Jones, who will perform with bassist Eric Lagac‚ and drummer Jim Doxas in a salute to Oliver’s great friend and mentor – Oscar Peterson. Oliver and Oscar studied piano together and Oliver told me during an interview for a 2005 cover story for The Montrealer that Oscar would admonish his younger friend for not putting in enough practice time.

“You’ve got to decide if you want to play baseball of piano Oliver.” Fortunately Oliver chose to take his piano lessons more seriously. Mark down July 2 on your calendar for We Remember O.P.

Holly Cole’s talent for singing classic jazz standards enabled her to travel the world from her native Halifax. Holly’s 25 year career has brought her to the festival a dozen times, and she’ll perform in Theatre Maisonneuve on June 30 as part of an all-women series of torch singers. (Diana Krall’s 3 concerts are already sold out!) Dee Dee Bridgewater will pay tribute to Billie Holiday with a concert titles To Billie With Love: A Celebration of Lady Day on July 1. Canadian smooth jazz songstress Emily-Claire Barlow brings material from her new album The Beat Goes On to the stage on July 3. Forty-seven years after she launched her career with As Tears Go By, Marianne Faithful will perform at the Festival for the first time with her 23rd album, Horses and High Heels in July 4.

If you like R & B music, do yourself a favour and get tickets for a double bill show at Metropolis on June 28 featuring Trombone Shorty performing his new album Backatown. Then get ready for the incredible Bootsy Collins; who sang with the Funk Brothers in their documentary Standing In The Shadows. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keeler have led Blue Rodeo on a 20 year ride that includes 7 Juno Awards, 12 studio and 3 live albums, 4 million albums sold worldwide, and 5 DVDs. Blue Rodeo will perform their first Festival concert at Metropolis on July 4.

You can make a strong argument that Bruce Springsteen may not have become a superstar if he hadn’t cut his teeth as a professional musician with Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes and working in clubs along the Jersey Shore.

Southside Johnny is the real deal – the genuine rock ‘n’ roll article; and he’ll show Montrealers the same musical lessons that he gave to Bruce Springsteen when he and The Asbury Jukes take the stage at Club Soda, a perfect venue for their hard driving Jersey beat.

The Jazz Festival has a very informative website that will direct you to the appropriate ticket agency, in addition to providing festival updates: For tickets at Place des Arts: 514-842-2112 or Club Soda: 514-286-1010 or Metropolis and L’Astral: or

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