The Montreal Jazz Festival came to an end this past Saturday. It was the Festival’s 40th edition, the weather –although in the middle of a heat wave– at least didn’t bring much rain which resulted in practically no outdoor concerts cancelled. And, probably the most emotionally-charged occurrence of this event, 2019 marked the end of the involvement of the two co-founders, Alain Simard and André Menard, in the actual programming and operation of the Festival.
Menard was fighting back the tears when he spoke during the final press conference when a balance of the Festival is presented before the journalists: “I’ll be missing the gang, the staff, the backstage, the people who helped us…” He then added that he wouldn’t disappear; he would simply be one of the spectators.
Simard, also quite moved by the occasion, remarked that when the first Festival took place, he “would have never imagined the dimensions this event would take.” He not only referred to the music aspect “Montreal is the best place for a crossover of music from Europe, the Americas; in a bilingual city it is a meeting place,” and certainly the Jazz Festival has contributed to that. He noted it even changed the urban landscape of that part of downtown. “I hope that the Festival will keep its DNA, the thrill of discovery and wonder. It’s a big machine that must meet commercial and tourism expectations, but if my successors manage to keep the spark lit and to remain in touch with the present, it will be mission accomplished!” added the co-founder and Chairman of the Board.
Prior to the farewell at the Montreal Jazz Festival
Prior to the farewell part, Laurent Saulnier, VP for Programming, was doing the customary artistic balance of the event, underlining some particular performances such as Charlotte Cardin’s at the opening of the Festival, Norah Jones who performed at the Wilfrid Pelletier Theatre playing “piano and guitar, mesmerizing the spectators during 90 magical minutes,” Peter Frampton, who visited the Festival to wrap up his major Peter Frampton Finale – The Farewell Tour, Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca bringing Afro-Cuban rhythms; drummer Makaya McCraven who “delivered a dazzling performance featuring the songs of the album Universal Beings,” and a number of other notable figures of jazz and different related rhythms who once again, have confirmed that the Montreal Jazz Fest is certainly if not the best, one of the best in the whole world.
The organizers also made references to the pilot project to set a satellite stage outside the primary downtown location. This year it was the borough of Verdun that hosted many concerts, and the experiment was a total success: “For this first edition of the Festival de Jazz in Verdun, Wellington Street and the three spaces created for the occasion exceeded expectations. Satisfied citizens, non-stop music on the Loto-Québec stage, musical entertainment in the church garden, and a band on the steps!” Jacques-André Dupont, CEO of the Festival indicated that there is a great interest on the part of other boroughs for next year so that each project will be studied with great attention.