Jazz Fest closes with two million people, 600 shows
By Stuart Nulman – mtltimes.ca
It was a cold and rainy late Saturday afternoon last week, when Montreal International Jazz Festival organizers met the media to give an overview that wrapped up the 37th edition of the festival, which attracted well over two million people and saw over 600 performances, with 37 sold-out shows.
“I have never seen the city so beautiful. The Montreal public is an amazing public, and they have helped to make this an amazing festival. I am proud of what we have accomplished this year,” said Jacques-Andre Dupont, who just completed his first year as the jazz festival’s president.
Dupont, along with festival co-founder Andre Menard and chief programmer Laurent Saulnier, outlined their respective highlights of the festival and the special memories that went along with them, including the farewell performances of jazz legends Guy Nadon and Oliver Jones; the large-scale outdoor concerts of Sharon Jones and Jamie Cullum (“what he did was beyond the call of duty, and he now belongs to the pantheon of festival greats,” added Mr. Menard); Kool and the Gang; The Brooks (who not only did a great opening act for Kool and the Gang, but also did a memorable tribute concert to Prince); the late night Jordan Officer jam sessions; Melody Gardot; Taj Mahal; Wynton Marsalis; Ms. Lauryn Hill; Rufus Wainwright; and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s onstage tribute concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ landmark “Pet Sounds” album.
And speaking of the latter, I have to admit that although it was a thrill to see a rock music legend perform live onstage, Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds 50th anniversary concert was a wonderful tribute to this remarkable album in particular, and to the California Sound that he helped to create in general. Accompanied by fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine, and an eight piece band of skilled musicians (including Jardine’s son Matthew, whose clear vocal style is remarkably reminiscent of the Beach Boys), Wilson played every track from the Pet Sounds album, and was bookended by a repertoire of some of the Beach Boys’ greatest hits, including “Help Me Rhonda”, “California Girls”, “I Get Around” and “Surfin’ USA”. And what was so remarkable about the sound quality is that the entire ensemble managed to echo the original sounds of each song (especially “Good Vibrations” and most of the Pet Sounds tracks, which were originally recorded using multi-layered musical and vocal tracks that would have made it difficult to reproduce on a live show). Basically, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine offered a constantly entertaining and unforgettable evening that was a living testament to the Beach Boys’ (and Brian Wilson’s) enduring contribution to the world of rock music.
And jazz festival organizers are not resting on their laurels for long. Meesrs. Dupont, Menard and Saulnier announced that plans are already underway for the 38th edition of the festival – which runs from June 29 to July 8, 2017 – that will coincide with the Montreal 375th and Canada 150th anniversary celebrations.