It’s the 30th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers translates the action.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival is a large, amazing beast spanning 13 nights and showcasing talented artists from all parts of the globe. With loads of world music, soul, funk and rock ‘n’ roll as well as top-notch jazz, the festival is impressive for the huge number of free outdoor events that are geared to satisfy the Canadian public while hardcore jazzbos scurry from one indoor gig to another. I missed the opening night’s concert with Stevie Wonder, but well more than 200,000 people braved the rain to see Wonder’s show, which was chock full of jazz charts, old Motown favorites, a Beatles tune and a loving tribute to Michael Jackson. Rumor has it that Wonder got paid a half-million dollars for the gig—not bad for a night’s work.
Easing into the cosmopolitan scene, I went to Club Soda and caught a set of duets by Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza (pictured) and acoustic guitarist Romero Lubambo. The intimacy between Souza and Lubambo was impressive and should lead many to Souza’s wonderful duet CDs. Singing in Portuguese and English, Souza embraced the songbook of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Pablo Neruda’s poetry and a couple of jazz standards. Lubambo, who lives in the United States, is probably the most in-demand Brazilian guitarist working today—his jazzy arpeggios were delicate and sometimes reminiscent of guitarist Joe Pass, but his sound is still distinctly Brazilian and uniformly excellent. Souza and Lubambo played in perfect tandem, mirroring each other with romantic grace.
I also enjoyed a late-night set at the wonderful Gesù Theatre, featuring French pianist Baptiste Trotignon with an American band that included sensational saxophonist Mark Turner, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Greg Hutchinson. While Trotignon’s style is a little too passive for my tastes, the improvisational strength of his group elevated the ensemble performance to a serious art form. Turner, who’s still recovering from a very serious injury to one of his hands, played remarkably, as did Pelt. This group of young all-stars is going to be around, individually if not collectively, so keep your eyes on them and watch the future of jazz unfold.
Much more from Montreal in the days to come—au revoir!