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Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

Previewing the 35th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Jun 16, 2014

From June 26 to July 6, jazz unveils all of its splendour in the venues of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan  The 35th edition of the festival will be featuring the greatest artists from around the world, breathing new life into the music in its purest form or its many related musical genres, from blues to folk to hip-hop. With all of the free outside and ticketed inside events, it would be a fool’s errand to try to give you the kind of profile I normally present. Instead, here’s a venue by venue look at what is happening during the span of June 26 to July 6, with my choices of highlights and “best bets”:

Événements spéciaux TD series, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA – Not a lot of jazz here (Emmylou Harris?) but there is a lineup of heavyweights to cross off your conert bucket list – Earth, Wind & Fire (6/20); Tony Bennett (7/1); Aretha Franklin (7/2); Diana Ross (7/3-4);  and B.B. King (with Gary Clark Jr )(7/5). Best Bet: Pink Martini’s “multicultural, polyglot sound” (6/30 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.) with a repertoire boosted by very special guests, The von Trapps (yup, them).

Grands concerts Rio Tinto Alcan series, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve  - Let’s hear it for the women! Cassandra Wilson (6/26) celebrates the 20th anniversary of her immortal album Blue Light 'Til Dawn;  Dianne Reeves, (6/27); Stacey Kent (6/28) and Afro-Spanish singer Buika and her trio make their festival debut (6/29) here. Best Bets:  a superlative double bill on 7/3 - the Terence Blanchard Quintet, joined for a second set by the Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal; and the first visit for legendary British drummer Ginger Baker (June 30), heading his quartet Jazz Confusion with Pee Wee Ellis, Alec Dankworth and Abass Dodoo, featuring top-flight high-energy jazz that dances with African rhythms.

Le Festival à la Maison symphonique series, 7 p.m., Maison symphonique de Montréal. The festival opens June 26-27with a concert to mark the 35th birthday of the Festival, the 80th season of the symphony and the 90th anniversary of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, the first work to break jazz into the world's premiere concert halls. Elvis Costello, Bobby McFerrin and  the Glen Miller Big Band will also grace the stage. Best Bets: Two of my favorite pianists in solo concerts – Keith Jarrett (6/28) and Brad Mehldau (7/1)

Rythmes series, 8:30 p.m., Métropolis. The ultimate festival rock and soul potpourri – shows by the likes of Trombone Shorty; Burning Spear with Sly & Robbie; Zappa Plays Zappa and St.Vincent. Best Bet: the endless energy of Angélique Kidjo on June 26.

Couleurs SAQ series, 7 p.m., Club Soda. Mostly blues, from the likes of Beth Hart, Guy Davis, Corey Harris and Alvin Youngblood Hart. Blue Note singer José James will be premiering his new CD on June 30th. Best Bet: Rising young guitar star Omar "Bombino" Moctar, a Touareg from northern Niger, on July 1st.

Nuits Heineken series, 11 p.m., Club Soda. The venue shifts gears from Blues to R&B bringing the likes of Cody ChesnuTT (6/28) and Will Holland, alias Quantic (6/29). Best Bet: young avant-garde jazz group Badbadnotgood (7/5) with covers of contemporary hip-hop hits.

Jazz Beat Hyatt Regency Montréal series, 9:30 p.m., Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, PdA. Now we’re talking jazz – The Newport Jazz Festival Now 60” Band with Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Larry Grenadier, Karrin Allyson, Mark Whitfield, Clarence Penn and Peter Martin (6/26); . guitarist Mike Stern (6/37) with the Bill Evans Band featuring Tom Kennedy and Steve Smith; members of Wayne Shorter's peerless quartet (6/28) as a trio with Danilo Pérez, Brian Blade & John Patitucci ; the Jack DeJohnette Trio with Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison and their tribute to the immortal John Coltrane (6/29) and one of the leading outfits in Scandinavian jazz, the Tord Gustavsen Quartet (6/30).  The Kenny Garrett Quintet,(7/1); a duo formed by Randy Weston & Billy Harper (7/2); Freddy Cole (7/4); Joe Lovano and US5 (7/5) and a kaleidoscopic musical reverie with Tom Harrell, Colors of a dream with Esperanza Spalding, Jaleel Shaw, Johnathan Blake, Ugonna Okegwo and Wayne Escoffery (7/ 6), finish the run of shows. Best Bets: read the paragraph again and take your choice!

Culte ! series, 7 p.m., Cinquième Salle, PdA . Perhaps the most unique program of the festival  will be For the Record: Tarantino in Concert, an electrifying spectacle somewhere between film, music and theatre (June 25 to 30, 7 p.m. and June 28 and 29 at 2 p.m.): performed by a team of 28 dancers, musicians and stage performers delivering a musical version of cult-fave scenes by the film and soundtrack master, from Reservoir Dogs to Django Unchained.

Invitation TD series, 6 p.m., Gesù - Centre de créativité.  Two artists - bluesman Harry Manx and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire each get three nights to host artists of their choosing. Manx chose Charlie Hunter (6/26), Kevin Breit (6/27) and Dave Lindley (6/28); Akinmusire invited Bill Frisell (6/30), and pianists Tigran (7/1)and  Brad Mehldau (7/2).  

TD Jazz d'ici La Presse+ series, 6 p.m., L'Astral. Regional talent is featured here, highlighted by the Ranee Lee Quintet with a string quartet and special guests (6/26); Jean-Pierre Zanella Quartet with guitarist Mike Moreno (7/4), and  trumpeter and bandleader Ron Di Lauro and Kind of Blue, a lovely tribute to the legendary Miles Davis album (7/6).

Le Club series, 9 p.m., L'Astral. Cécile McLorin Salvant opens this series (June 26 and 27), which will include shows from pianist Baptiste Trotignon and saxophonist Mark Turner (6/29), Mehliana, the electronica duo of pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Mark Guiliana (7/1) and  the first headline gig of bassistt Charnett Moffett (7/3) presenting his recent solo album, The Bridge. Best Bet: rising star pianist Kris Bowers (7/4).

Jazz dans la nuit series, 10:30 p.m., Gesù - Centre de créativité. Powerhouses like Roy Hargrove (6/26);  Rudresh Mahanthappa and Gamak (6/27);  the trio of Marc Copland, Gary Peacock and Joey Baron (6/28); the Lonnie Smith Octet (6/30); Christian McBride Trio (7/1) and Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander and his Harlem-Kingston Express (7/2). Best Bets: violinist Regina Carter’s Southern Comfort (7/5)  and Canadian saxophonist and composer Christine Jensen and her Jazz Orchestra (7/6).

Musique au MAC series, 8 p.m., Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. A world-wide series at this venue, highlighted by iconoclastic Québec collective L'orchestre d'hommes-orchestres (6/27 to 7/1) with Cabaret Brise-Jour - The Music of Kurt Weill.

Concerts intimes series, 7 p.m., Savoy du Métropolis. Highlight here seems to be the three jazz-loving California horn/reed players of Moonchild (7/3-4), with their new album, Please Rewind, somewhere between jazz and neo-soul.

Les Soirées jazz Upstairs presented at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. in Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill (1254 MacKay St.), with talent like the Heath Brothers (June 26 and 27), the Fred Hersch Trio (June 28 and 29), Sheila Jordan & The Hanky Panky Trio (June 30), the Bob Mover Quartet with Bob Cranshaw, Joe Cohn and Steve Williams (July 1), Ben Sidran & The Don't Cry For No Hipster Band  and the Peter Bernstein Quartet with Jimmy Cobb, Harold Mabern and John Webber (July 5 and 6).

The  Le Dièse Onze au Festival series will be presented every evening at 9:30 p.m. in Dièse Onze with  a variety of local players, highlighted bythe Alex Côté Quintet and their Tribute to the Adderley Brothers (July 4).

The Festival closes out celebrations of its 35th edition on July 5th  by marking the 80th birthday of one of its most loyal and longstanding friends: internationally renowned Montreal pianist Oliver Jones. The living jazz legend does up his 80th with a superb soirée in Théâtre Maisonneuve. with some of his musical friends: Lorraine Desmarais, Ranee Lee, Josée Aidans and Daniel Clarke Bouchard.