Free outdoor shows until midnight! © Kevin R. Mason

  Cécile McLorin Salvant    © Kevin R. Mason

The 39th Montreal Jazz Festival, officially known as Le Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, will take place from June 28 to July 7, 2018. As usual, they are presenting a fabulous cornucopia of artists, including Bobby McFerrin; Chris Botti; Theo Crocker; Cécile McLorin Salvant; Charlotte Gainsbourg; The Mike Stern/Randy Brecker Band featuring Dennis Chambers and Tom Kennedy; José James; Ani DiFranco; Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite; Béla Fleck and the Flecktones; Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective; Brian Blade; The Mark Guiliana Quartet featuring Gretchen Parlato; Herbie Hancock; Kamasi Washington; Jean-Pierre Zanella; Leslie Odom, Jr.; Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Memphis Soulphony; The Emmet Cohen Trio featuring Houston Person; Snarky Puppy; Ziggy Marley; The Dave Holland, Zakir Hussain, and Chris Potter Trio with Renee Rosnes; Matt Herskowitz; Martha Wainwright; Benny Golson; Florence K; Dr. Lonnie Smith; Christian Sands; David Binney; Boz Scaggs; Al Di Meola; The Jensen Sisters Quintet featuring Helen Sung; Seal; and many, many more.

The Jensen Sisters   © Kevin R. Mason

In addition to all of the indoor concerts, there are numerous FREE outdoor concerts that are held at several stages, every day of the Festival, from 12:00 noon until midnight!

2018 Festival Awards

This year, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal highlights the exceptional contributions to music made by some very deserving musicians.  George Thorogood is the fifth recipient of the B.B. King Award, created in 2014 to recognize the exceptional talent of an artist who has left an indelible mark on the blues scene. Ben Harper is the 20th recipient of the Ella Fitzgerald Award, established in 1999 for the recognition of the versatility, improvisational originality, and quality of repertoire of a singer of worldwide renown. Béla Fleck and the Flecktones will be the 25th recipients of the Miles Davis Award, which was created in 1994 to honor a great jazz musician for their entire body of work, and that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom. Zakir Hussain is the 15th recipient of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award, created for the Festival’s 25th anniversary to recognize artists distinguished in the field of world music whose influence on the evolution of jazz and cultural crossover is widely recognized. Renee Rosnes is the 30th artist to receive the Oscar Peterson Award. This prize was created in 1989 to salute a Canadian musician who has made outstanding contributions to the world of jazz. Ry Cooder is the 11th recipient of the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award, which highlights a popular artist’s extraordinary contribution to the international world of music.

Family Events at the Festival

Dee Dee Bridgewater                          © Kevin R. Mason

The Festival is also for kids of all ages! Every day, the Festival offers something for the entire family, all over the site.

La Petite école du jazz (Little School of Jazz) presented by Rio Tinto — For 29 years now, they’ve extended the invitation, and the kids pack the show each day! This is a dynamic, interactive musical initiation packed with smiles and fun, accompanied by the Festival’s famed mascot Ste-Cat, and featuring Les Zélèves, the vocal harmony quintet led by Victor-Jacques Ménard, backed by James Gelfand and his quartet.  At Grande-Place in Complexe Desjardins, every day from June 28 to July 711 a.m. an 1:30 p.m.

Head to Parc Musical Rio Tinto for an array of interactive activities conceived around the theme of music, in a space specially adapted for families! The games employ technology in playful musical installations that are fun, whimsical, and fantastic.

La Petite école du jazz  © Kevin R. Mason

Club Famille Rio Tinto hosts entertainment and activities for children every day from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., with Educazoo, workshops for creating and handling marionettes, key chains, and badges, introduction to the circus arts, a quiz-show Quel cinéma!  and workshops by Musée d’art contemporain to keep the kids engrossed and entertained.

Free services offered by Rio Tinto: changing tables, a stroller loan service, as well as new children’s bracelets designed to record their parents’ contact information.

Hirondelles

Last year, there was even greater attention to Montréal than ever. Jacques-André Dupont, Festival CEO, said, “It’s like the United Nations of music, here in Montréal.” Because of the increased focus on the city in 2017, due to the many celebrations of the 375th anniversary of Montréal and the great diversity of the attendees, the Festival introduced the new initiative, “Hirondelles” (Swallow birds, in English), with special on-site teams trained offer protection to anyone feeling vulnerable. The program is discussed by Dupont, as follows:

“The safety of all festival goers is very important to us and we work tirelessly to provide the public with places of gathering, peace and respect. We are always trying to be the best in our industry and, of course, the safety of all…is a priority.”

— Jacques-André Dupont, CEO of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

 Bird logos, especially designed for the program, appear on the armlets of the officers, and on signs indicating areas of safety and tranquility. This, along with other initiatives, are aimed at maintaining and enhancing the Festival’s stellar, worldwide reputation.

Maison du Festival

Blumenthal Montréal © Kevin R. Mason

Maison du Festival is the official home for the Festival, housing the new terrace brasserie, Blumenthal Montréal, which boasts delicious food and specialty beverages, excellently served in a space with gorgeous, modern, and sophisticated décor. Blumenthal Montréal is the perfect place to get a wonderful meal before or after a show, and importantly, the restaurant is a non-profit business, with the proceeds going to promote the free concerts at the Festival. Maison du Festival also contains Médiathèque Jazz/La Presse +, one of the largest jazz resource centers in the world, with extensive audio and video archives, photographs, publications, and free admission; the popular nightclub, L’Astral; the Festival gift shop; the Press Room; Galerie Lounge TD, an art gallery that has hosted displays by several notable artists and photographers, including Herman Leonard, Tony Bennett, and Leonard Cohen, and holds the Festival’s permanent art collection; and Bell Exhibition of the Legends of the Festival, which presents the history of the Festival via exclusive artifacts from the personal collections of the great musicians. The side of Maison u Festival, directly above Blumenthal Montréal, displays a spectacular nightly photography projection of iconic jazz artists.

Complexe Desjardins light show                                   © Kevin R. Mason

In a press release, the Festival gave the following thanks to the sponsors:

“We would like to offer our warmest thanks to our principal sponsor and official presenter TD, as well as Rio Tinto, co-presenter of the Festival, for their continued support. Thanks also to Bell, Casino de Montréal, the Société des Alcools du Québec, Heineken, Hyundai, Les Producteurs de lait du Québec, Hendrick’s Gin, Le Porc du Québec and all our suppliers and collaborators. We thank the Government of Canada – the Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Economic Development, Musication, the Government of Québec – the Ministère du Tourisme, Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine, SODEC, as well as the Ville de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal and Consulate General of Israel in Montréal. Thanks also to all of our media partners and the entire Festival team.”

Sightseeing in Montréal

Because the outdoor concerts of the Festival start at 12:00 noon, and the indoor shows begin around 6:00 pm, visitors have time to avail themselves of an abundance of enjoyable activities during the day. The city of Montréal has numerous excellent museums, including Musee des Beaux Arts, Montréal Tower Observatory and Space for Life Museum, Musee d’art contemporain de Montréal, and the Grévin Wax Museum. Other attractions include the Montréal Botanical Garden, the Biodôme, La Ronde Amusement Park, the stunning Casino de Montréal, and the renowned “Underground City.” You can take a free guided tour of the breathtakingly beautiful City Hall, and there are walking tours of every type (many bilingual), including afternoon tea tours, jazz tours, expeditions in Old Montréal (where the fantastic audio attraction, the Silophone, is located), wine and cheese tastings, food tours in Chinatown and Little Italy, and even a ghost tour!

If walking isn’t your thing, the hop-on, hop-off bus tours will take you all over the city, and there are also bicycle and scooter tours, and paddle boat and quadricycle rentals. Montréal’s famed outdoor markets, including Marché Jean-Talon and Marché Atwater, offer a cornucopia of Canadian delicacies, fresh produce, seafood, maple syrup, flowers, gifts, and souvenirs. Tam-Tams, the exciting free weekly drum festival on Sundays, also gives you a chance to enjoy the beauty of Parc du Mont-Royal and panoramic views of the city.

You can also experience indoor skydiving and outdoor ziplining. The city offers everything from daytime family-friendly activities to late-night pub crawls, after-hours jazz clubs, and jam sessions. The best ways to get around the city are on foot or by public transportation. The Metro trains and bus system are cost-efficient and easy to use.

General Information

While French is the main language in Montréal, many people there speak English. Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few French words and phrases. Ushers will direct you to go “gauche” (left) or “droite” (right) to get to your seats at the indoor venues. Please note that concert tickets have military time listed. “Pardonnez-moi, parlez-vous anglaise?” means “Excuse me, do you speak English?” Canadian money under $5.00 is all in coins, in denominations of $2.00 down to 5 cents. (The use of pennies was abolished a few years ago.) Canada uses the metric system for weights and measurements. Weather reports are given in Celsius, but you can tune into nearby U.S. television stations to get temperatures in Fahrenheit, so you can dress appropriately.

 For more information about tickets, schedules, and general information about the Festival, go to: http://www.montrealjazzfest.com.

There is so much music in the city, it can’t all be contained by the Festival. One of the most notable events is the annual Jazz Mass, hosted by eminent historian and religion educator, Professor Norman Cornett. The Jazz Mass will be held on Sunday, July 1, at 10:30 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, affectionately known as “the Red Roof Church,” which is located at 137 Avenue du Président-Kennedy, right adjacent to the Festival site, Place-des-Arts. The program is free and open to the public, and will feature music by trumpeter Ron Di Lauro, winner of the esteemed Oscar Peterson Award. Multiple award-winning singer Ranee Lee will deliver the homily. Professor Cornett is also curating an exhibition at the church by artist Sonia Roseval, titled, “The Enigma of Jazz.”

For more information about Professor Cornett’s activities, go to www.cdedec.com.