The Montreal Jazz Fest in full swing
By Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca
At the time I’m writing this report the 37th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is midway. As usual, the festive ambience has invaded all the area around Place des Arts where its main concert halls are home to many of the ticketed events, and, so far, the weather has also contributed to making the free, outdoor concerts, an enjoyable experience.
One of the most enjoyable indoor concerts I had the opportunity to attend was the one with Rufus Wainwright at the Wilfrid Pelletier Theatre, a hybrid evening with a first part featuring Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna, and the second part with some of the singer’s hits. Prima Donna was performed as a visual symphonic concert: a grand orchestra provided the right accompaniment to singers Antonio Figueroa, Kathryn Guthrie and Lyne Fortin. The Orchestra- directed by Jayce Ogren, also accompanied Wainwright during the second part of the show.
A few awards have also been given during these first days of the Festival: this year’s Miles Davis Award was presented to one of the world’s greatest jazz pianists, Kenny Barron. The Festival remarked that “Kenny Barron will be the 23rd recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created for our 15th anniversary in 1994 to honour a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom. The bronze statuette was created from a self-portrait by Miles, sketched for the Festival poster in 1988.”
A crucial role of the Jazz Festival is to encourage emerging artists; that’s why it also gives a prize to rising stars, on this occasion the 2016 TD Grand Jazz Award was given to the Brad Cheeseman Group. The award was presented by Laurent Saulnier, Vice-President Programming and Sylvie Demers, President, Quebec Direction, TD Bank Group, at a press conference this Tuesday. According to the organizers, “Coming from the Toronto scene, the Brad Cheeseman Group has been blending the rich language of jazz with elements of rock, R&B and fusion, since its beginnings, in 2012. The band was nominated for ‘Best Jazz Instrumental’ at the 2015 Toronto Independent Music Awards and won the 2013 ‘Instrumental Recording of the Year’ at the Hamilton Music Awards. In addition to his work with the BCG, bassist, composer, arranger and instructor Brad Cheeseman has played in a number of outfits and performed with many great Canadian jazz musicians, including Bruce Cassidy, Terry Clarke, Paul DeLong, Adrean Farrugia, John Macleod, Reg Schwager and Nancy Walker. Winner of a number of awards and distinctions, his refined compositions unfurl all the subtleties of excellent modern jazz.”
The Montreal International Jazz Festival continues until this Saturday, July 9. For detailed information on schedules, ticket prices, and concert locations visit montrealjazzfest.com