The 35th anniversary edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival wraps up this weekend. And although it is difficult for anyone to catch all of the 800 indoor and outdoor shows the festival has to offer, I managed to catch my share of shows that represented a broad spectrum of music. Here are reviews of a selection of jazz fest shows that were highlights for me this year.
Perhaps the show that gave me the most pleasant surprise at this year’s jazz festival was the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, which performed at Theatre Maisonneuve on June 30. Baker, who is best known as the drummer for the legendary 1960s British rock trio Cream (along with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce), performed with a trio of jazz musicians including bassist Alec Dankworth, whose parents are British jazz legends Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. This wonderful show proved that Baker can drum his way through any music genre, including jazz and African world rhythms. And his percussion face-offs with fellow drummer Abass Dodoo from Ghana were a treat to listen to and something to behold. In fact, this was not a jazz confusion, but a polished jazz fusion jam session.
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Seeing British vocalist/guitarist Katie Melua at Place Des Arts on June 27 for the very first time, she had me hooked from the very first number she performed that night, which was a cover version of the theme from the 1971 James Bond thriller “Diamonds Are Forever”, which would have made the song’s original singer Shirley Bassey proud.
Returning to the jazz festival after a five-year absence, and this being the only North American date in her Acoustic Tour, Melua had the audience entranced with her outstanding skills playing acoustic and electric guitar, as well as her soft, breathless vice (which one audience loudly proclaimed as “angelic”), as she sang a repertoire of songs that she adores, as well as inspired and influenced her such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Spooky” and “Dedicated to the One I Love”.
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“Tarantino in Concert” wasn’t the only musical tribute show that I caught at the jazz festival. “Zappa Plays Zappa” at the Metropolis was a tribute to the musical genius of rock music legend the late Frank Zappa. And it was only appropriate that his son Dweezil lead this tribute show, as he and his four-piece band rocked the packed crowd at the Metropolis with a selection of tunes from the earlier albums that he recorded with the Mothers of Invention. Somehow, he brilliantly recaptured the spirit of the delightfully offbeat songs that were Frank Zappa’s trademark sound, which firmly established him as a rock music legend.
For more information about the shows that are being presented during the final weekend of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, go to www.montrealjazzfest.com
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And while we’re on the subject of the jazz festival, legendary Montreal jazz pianist Oliver Jones, whose 80th birthday is being feted tonight (July 5) with a special tribute concert at Theatre Maisonneuve, has been named Honourary Chair of the 35th Annual Cote St. Luc Golf Classic, which takes place at the Meadowbrook Golf Club, 8370 Cote St. Luc Road, on July 8.
Jones, who currently resides in Cote St. Luc, will also participate in the tournament, as he leads his own foursome on the links. The tournament, which is chiefly sponsored by Gravel Decarie Chevrolet Buick Cadillac, will offer a 2014 Cadillac ATS to the first golfer that makes a hole-in-one.
Cost to register in the nine-hole tournament is only $27, which includes a lunch buffet, trophies and door prizes. For more information, contact Alvin Fishman at 514-485-6806, ext. 2012, or Harold Cammy at ext. 2011. You can also e-mail them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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