Montreal Jazz Festival: More Than Just Jazz

Music Features Montreal Jazz Festival
Montreal Jazz Festival: More Than Just Jazz

The 44th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival takes over the Canadian city’s downtown arts neighborhood from Thursday, June 26 to Saturday, July 6 this year. There will be 350 performances at 19 different venues, all within walking distance of each other. Two-thirds of the shows will be free to the public. While there is an emphasis on jazz, the festival also includes rock, hip-hop, blues and R&B.

And because the Montreal Jazz Festival is an easy walk from Chinatown and the city’s historic district on the St. Lawrence River, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to visit between shows. Here are four shows that I’m especially looking forward to:

Best Ticketed Jazz Show: Ambrose Akinmusire & Dave Holland (June 29)

Akinmusire’s Owl Song was one of the best jazz albums of last year. Perhaps it was overlooked because it was released 10 days before Christmas, but the Oakland trumpeter engaged veteran jazz guitarist Bill Frisell in trio performances of exceptional invention and beauty. In Montreal, Akinmusire will engage with another older jazz giant, bassist Dave Holland, in an unaccompanied duo that promises to produce similar results.

Best Free Jazz Show: Melissa Aldana (June 30)

Aldana’s new album, Echoes of the Inner Prophet, is the best kind of tribute to Wayne Shorter—one that transforms and personalizes Shorter’s music rather than imitating it. Aldana, a Chilean alto saxophonist, leads a terrific quartet that provides a launch pad for her solos.

Best Ticketed Non-Jazz Show: Killer Mike (July 3)

Michael Render, whose stage name is Killer Mike, is best known as half of Run the Jewels, the hip-hop duo with El-P. But last year, Render released Michael, a landmark solo album that expanded his music to include gospel, R&B and funk without leaving hip-hop behind. He brings that solo music to Canada as part of the Down by Law Tour.

Best Free Non-Jazz Show: Cedric Burnside (June 30)

Burnside learned the craft and soul of Mississippi Hill Country blues by playing drums in the band led by his grandfather, the legendary R.L. Burnside. After R.L. died, Cedric emerged as the best of the Hill Country’s younger generation as both a songwriter and a singer.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin