The 43rd Jazz Festival wraps up this weekend. There are still indoor and outdoor shows to enjoy, but already we can say: it was a great edition.
You can’t see everything, it’s the beautiful dilemma of most festivals. Conflicting schedules, heartbreaking choices; taking the pulse of such an event invariably gives a different diagnosis from one person to another – my colleague Jean-Christophe Laurence offers another.
The programming team rose brilliantly from a day one cancellation by replacing British guitarist Oscar Jerome with Quebec trio Misc, right in their place at 10 p.m. at Studio TD. Jérôme Beaulieu at the piano and his two companions gave us changing jazz with a pinch of electro as we hear on Share the ambulance. We could have called the evening Oscar Jerome Beaulieu! It happened on June 29, the same evening that the highly anticipated Christone Kingfish Ingram was heating up the blues stage at the east end of the festival site at the inviting Parterre symphonique for two solid sets of electric blues at 9 and 11 p.m. h. There’s a lot of people out there!
The stage is lower than before, in addition to having undergone a slight inclination towards the west. We preferred this boosted atmosphere outside to his somewhat cacophonous performance at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. There were concerns about the quality of the air, especially that evening, but the bluesman from Clarksdale, Mississippi, put on a show, without showing off. The big blow blues of the organizers, it goes without saying. Unfortunately, we missed George Benson returning to the festival. Having seen him at all his stops in Montreal for 30 years, including the famous double concert, 10th anniversary at the Forum in 1989 in the company of B.B. King, the guitarist with sung notes was an indisputable choice for the opening concert in the hall.
The next day, meet one last time with Buddy Guy and his noble blues intentions. We told you about it earlier this week, the atmosphere was at its peak. He always abused his guitar neck, was funny, told good stories, told us a little about his life and, above all, offered these songs by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and other John Lee Hooker in his own way, c is to say always on edge, feeling to spare and a voice that has not wavered. There are no longer any like him, to use the established expression. Big gap, near the Place des Festivals, to catch 20 minutes of Cimafunk, a Latin formation that focuses on funk with a singer on a mission!
There were discoveries to be made at supper time in the Gesù room. The place is of course conducive to impromptu meetings, sometimes musicians who have played very little together. Picture it: four-piece Snarky Puppy on July 1, followed by a three-night winning streak with drummer Nate Smith.
On July 2, on this large Place des Festivals, the evening began relatively smoothly with the Californian quartet The Altons, who had played the day before on another stage. The indie sound of his music, in addition to the harmonies of the voices that hit the mark in his pop settings, is just perfect at this hour. We really like this casualness.
Looking back, we realize how much Herbie Hancock’s concert at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier filled this adventurous audience of all generations. Ovations for the music – not always obvious – infinite gratitude for the 83-year-old jazzman. We no longer hoped for it, and yet. They say it: Terence Blanchard stunned everyone with his trumpet.
My jazz discovery of the festival? Endea Owens
On Thursday, the long-awaited Thundercat with its six-string bass trod the TD stage, the largest, with a drummer in a motorcycle helmet with a disco ball look and a purveyor of beats and electro sounds. His last visit was on December 10, 2021, at the MTelus. The all-round Californian producer and collaborator offered a most modern jazz solution, the round bass, a kind of continuity with Kamasi Washington’s concert on this same stage last year.
Finally, in closing, my queen Marisa Monte, two evenings, please. We genuflect a little before the Christ the Redeemer of Rio to show him our gratitude. Emotion, sun-drenched atmospheres, the Portuguese language… so sexy! My palme d’or of this 43rd edition.
A very big FIJM. It was our 41st and this one leaves us with a damn good impression. The full balance of styles, indoors and outdoors, new as it should be, ghosts from all musical backgrounds, the great forces that make its mark, its brand image, is music and its wonderfully well laid out site. Jazz lives and lives again. It is the perpetual cycle.