André Ménard - Jazz Festival

Festival co-founder
André Ménard announcing the 2016 festival line-up
Photo: Victor Diaz

André Ménard recently spoke with me about some personal concert picks for the upcoming 37th Montreal International Jazz Festival. As the co-founder, André continues as the festival’s Artistic Director and is still actively involved in searching out artists to perform in what the Guinness Book of Records has deemed the world’s largest jazz festival. For jazz aficionados, there are enough jazz concerts to keep them entertained every night. The festival also brings in a wide variety of blues and popular music performers.

“The festival is very inclusive, and Montrealers love what they believe is ‘their festival’, and it is. The festival gives us a chance to be tourists in our own city, to come downtown to take in some indoor shows and also just to be on the site, taking it all in.”  Continuing, André notes:  “The festival has played a big role in helping to create and develop Le quartier des spectacles. When the Maison Symphonique first opened – we had just three concerts there. This year, we have eight shows scheduled for that hall. For The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir – it gives them a special place to perform for a larger audience.” (July 2)

Trevor Payne - André Ménard - Jazz Festival

Trevor Payne and The
Montreal Jubilation Choir
concert on July 2 is on André Ménard’s pick list.
Photo Michael Slobodian

Melody Gardot at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier “We’ve helped launch some careers, including people like Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, and more recently singer/songwriter Melody Gardot. She played in a small venue a few years ago, and this summer she’s coming back for two shows in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier with a capacity of 6,000 people for the two nights.” (June 29 and 30)

“Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra is probably the best unit in the world. They’re not put together for a tour, they are a permanent group and every guy is a soloist. Wynton is a neo-traditionalist and it took him a while to accept that jazz fusion is valid.” (Maison Symphonique, June 30)

Wynton Marsalis - André Ménard - Jazz Festival

“Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at the Lincoln Center are the best jazz unit in the world”,
André Ménard.
Photo by Frank Stewart

Brian Wilson “It took me from 2008 to this year to get Brian Wilson. I saw him in the Hollywood Bowl, performing the Smile album and of course – all those hit songs he wrote for the Beach Boys. To this day, it’s one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. I’m happy that we were able to get him, because this is his farewell tour. He’ll be performing Pet Sounds with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin addition to those memorable hits.” (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, July 7)

Brian Wilson - André Ménard - Jazz Festival

Brian Wilson and his 14-piece band will perform Pet Sounds on the album’s
50th Anniversary
Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Kenny Barron “For people who like jazz in small theatres, Kenny Barron’s three shows at Gésu will be special. I saw him in Paris – and he’s a great and melodic pianist.” (Gésu, July 3, 4, 5 at 6pm)

“Oliver Jones’ retirement show with his trio and the Orchestre National is sure to be a great event. Oliver has been with the festival for decades, and it will be a chance for Montrealers to thank him for all those years of music and his contributions to the community.” (Maison Symphonique, July 7)

“For something unique, I suggest bassist Renaud Garci-Fons and flamenco inspired pianist Durantes. He has been able to transform the passion of flamenco guitar to a piano keyboard.” (Monument-National, July 4)

“We’re proud of the festival that has become greater than the sum of its parts. We have contributed something to Montreal and its artists, giving them a place and an opportunity to discover themselves.”

Bravo André! For more information about the hundreds of concerts, please visit the festival’s website: