Jazz Festival, the wrap-up

Jazz Festival, the wrap-up
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By Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca

 

“A great success, both from the artistic and financial points of view, and even the weather helped (except for that last Saturday)!”  A satisfied Jacques-André Dupont–President and Director General–said this past Saturday, July 9, at the final press conference of the 37th  edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

 

The festival ended with the presentation of West Trainz at the Place des Festivals that same Saturday night.

 

Jacques-André Dupont, President and Director General; André Menard, co-founder; and Laurent Saulnier, VP Programming during the final press conference of the Jazz Fest

Jacques-André Dupont, President and Director General; André Menard, co-founder; and Laurent Saulnier, VP Programming during the final press conference of the Jazz Fest

I enjoyed two more of the concerts, one featuring Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba with Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, and Armando Gola, the Volcan Trio. With a magnificent fusion of jazz and Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms, the group delighted an audience fond of the Latin warmth but also curious about how the Cuban approach to jazz brings some new elements. It was a great concert only marred by a minor but still annoying problem: an opening number—featuring saxophone player Melissa Aldana—that extended beyond what is considered reasonable. In total she played for exactly one hour, which, taken into consideration a 20-minute intermission, meant that the main concert started close to 9:30, in turn, making the whole show finish past 10:30. Besides, the saxophonist prolonged her stay by manipulatively asking the audience if they wanted her to continue—of course, polite as audiences are, they wouldn’t say what they felt: “We came for Rubalcaba, not for you!” Of course, there is nothing against opening numbers; they are there to warm-up the audience and normally they do it briefly (40 minutes max). And, of course, that also helps them in developing their careers, but what Melissa Aldana did was to take hostage the audience with a presentation that wasn’t even memorable since it sounded repetitive after a while. I raised this issue at the final press conference and the organizers agreed that it is a problem they should solve although most artists in opening numbers keep their presentation within the 30-40 minutes mark.

 

West Trainz during the Special Closing Event on July 9

West Trainz during the Special Closing Event on July 9

The Wainwright Sisters was the other entertaining concert I had the chance to attend in the final days of the festival. Their concert was preceded by Australia’s Archer featuring an interesting variety of folk and some protest songs from his country. Sisters Martha and Lucy titled their concert “Songs in the Dark” a selection that included nursery rhymes from their childhood to their own versions of themes by Simon & Garfunkel and Townes Van Zandt. The sisters captivated the audience with some stories about their own lives and references to Martha’s mother Cate McGarrigle; it was certainly a delightful concert during which the two sisters displayed not only their musical talent but also their ability to connect to the audience sometimes by humour, others by emotion.

 

My perspective of this year’s festival makes me think of it as being one of the best in all the history of the festival with a substantial presence of jazz artists, including Oliver Jones in his farewell concert but also with an extensive presence of other musical expressions. Journalists at the final press conference expressed their congratulations to the organizers of this event that year after year is getting better. Good for the Montreal International Jazz Festival, one of the landmarks events in the city.

 

The producers also announced that next year they would have something very special to mark the 375th anniversary of Montreal and the 150th anniversary of Canada. The 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival will take place between June 29 and July 8.

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