Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Brad Mehldau solo,
The Chieftains & Ry Cooder, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Stacey Kent,
Marcus Miller, Mike Stern and Bill Evans Band Featuring Tom Kennedy
and Steve Smith, Kenny Garrett Quintet, Buika,
Newport Jazz Festival Now 60 with Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Larry Grenadier, Karrin Allyson, Mark Whitfield, Clarence Penn and Peter Martin,
and the 6th edition of the Battle of the Bands
with The Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
Once again, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan, welcomes the oncoming holiday season by offering a sack full of musical presents to place under the Christmas tree… while we await the biggest present of all, the highly anticipated 35th edition of the Festival, from June 26 to July
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite — June 28, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA — Generous and charismatic, Ben Harper has left his mark on the history of this Festival, notably with his first concert in a wildly packed Spectrum in 1996, and the magnificent outdoor performance he delivered for the 30th anniversary. For our 35th, the singer-guitarist proposes a completely different concert accompanied by a living legend of the blues, harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite—who hasn’t been with us since 1997—performing their recent collaboration, the excellent album Get Up!, an incredible blend of electric and acoustic blues released on the legendary Stax label. Absolutely essential!
Brad Mehldau, solo — July 1, 7 p.m., Maison symphonique de Montréal — We can’t get enough of Brad Mehldau solo! After his smash solitaire successes in 2000, 2008 and 2011 at the Festival, one of the jazz scene’s greatest pianists heads in for his inaugural performance in the Maison symphonique, a hall tailor-made for just this type of musical exercise. A gifted musician, original thinker and astonishing improviser, this Festival regular (and 2006 Miles Davis Award recipient…) returns with another facet of his immense talent. Brilliant.
The Chieftains with Special Guest Ry Cooder — July 2, 7 p.m., Maison symphonique de Montréal, PdA —The preeminent traditional Irish group, the Chieftains and their leader Paddy Moloney, have carried the musical torch of the Emerald Isle for 50 years. Outstanding American guitarist Ry Cooder—the man behind the Buena Vista Social Club and the Paris, Texas soundtrack—is a passionate missionary for all forms of cultural fusion. Cooder, who collaborated with the Chieftains on their Grammy award winning record The Long Black Veil and most recently on 2010′s San Patricio, an album brilliantly marrying Irish and Mexican folk music, joins Paddy and the band as their very special guest as they remind us what truly traditional music is in their first visit to the Festival!
Battle of the Bands: The Glenn Miller Orchestra Vs. The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra — July 5, 7 p.m., Maison symphonique de Montréal — Nostalgia in the house! It’s guaranteed when we raise the curtains on this utterly unique show transporting us all back to the New York ballroom era of the late ’30s! This 6th edition of the Battle of the Bands faces off two legendary combos, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, who have already crossed swords (and trombones) in ballroom battle once before—a joust won by Miller’s men—in the very first edition in 2008. Did somebody say Revenge Match?
Stacey Kent — June 28, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA — A star of jazz vocal, American Stacey Kent is noted for her perfect phrasing and enchanting voice. Following on her Festival de Jazz en tournée engagement in 2011, she returns with the aptly titled new album The Changing Lights. After serenading us en français onRaconte-moi… in 2010, this time Kent explores one of her favourite genres, bossa nova, bringing a gentle finesse to the sound with her musicians, Jim Tomlinson (sax, flute, guitar), Graham Harvey (keyboards), Jeremy Brown (bass) and Josh Morrison (drums). Superb.
Buika — June 29, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA — This superb Afro-Spanish singer has collaborated with Chucho Valdés and Pat Metheny, sung for filmmaker Pedro Almodovar and has two books to her credit! Digging into flamenco roots, Buika also draws inspiration from jazz; witness the Abbey Lincoln and Billie Holiday covers on her most recent album, La noche mas larga. In her first visit to the Festival, the Miami-based artist performs in a trio with Ivan “Melón” Lewis (piano) and Ramon Porrina (percussion). The night belongs to her…
Marcus Miller — July 1, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA — A towering presence in contemporary jazz, New York bassist and composer Marcus Miller played with Miles Davis and has left his mark on some 500 albums! Having shared the stage with Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke at the Festival in 2012, the master of slap bass returns with his latest album, Renaissance, a brilliant fusion of jazz-funk, post-bop and rock. He’ll be joined by Alex Anthony Han (saxophone), Adam Vincent Agati (guitar), William Lee Hogans (trumpet), Brett Nathaniel Williams (keyboards) and Louis Alvin Cato (drums) for the occasion.
Newport Jazz Festival, Now 60, with Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Larry Grenadier, Karrin Allyson, Mark Whitfield, Clarence Penn and Peter Martin — June 26, 9:30 p.m., Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, PdA — Newport, the oldest jazz festival in North America, celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2014. To mark the occasion with appropriate pomp, we welcome this major tour, which has crisscrossed the U.S. under the artistic direction of clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen. Expect a varied program starring trumpeter Randy Brecker, singer Karrin Allyson, guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Peter Martin, drummer Clarence Penn and bassist Larry Grenadier. A historic event!
Mike Stern and Bill Evans Band Featuring Tom Kennedy and Steve Smith — June 27, 9:30 p.m., Théâtre Jean‑Duceppe, PdA — A Festival regular and former host of the Invitation series in 2007, virtuoso guitarist Mike Stern returns after a three-year absence with a group co-piloted by renowned saxophonist Bill Evans—they both worked with Miles Davis in the ’80s—and blessed with an explosive rhythm section consisting of bassist Tom Kennedy and drummer Steve Smith. Driven by a remarkable shared passion, these four veterans deliver a vigorous jazz fusion that was a smash hit in Europe last year.
Kenny Garrett Quintet — July 1, 9:30 p.m., Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, PdA — Sure, this renowned Detroit saxophonist loves classic jazz (we all remember his lovely tribute to Miles Davis at the Festival in 2009), but is also open to its musical offshoots and many other styles, including funk and Latin, living up to his rep as a free artist. Witness Pushing the World Away, the brilliant new album Garrett will perform in a quintet with Vernell Brown (piano), Corcoran Holt (bass), Rudy Bird (percussion) and McClenty Hunter (drums). Major league.
Cécile McLorin Salvant — June 27, 9 p.m., L’Astral — After Billie, Ella and Sarah…Cécile! One listen is all it takes to remember the first name of this extraordinarily promising young artist who has already been (justly) compared to the greats! Winner of the 2010 edition of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition, McLorin Salvant makes believers everywhere she goes with her warm and enveloping voice, a seductive sound that beguiled Wynton Marsalis and sparkles on her very first album, WomanChild. An exceptional discovery!
L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres, Cabaret Brise-Jour — based on the music of Kurt Weill — June 27 & 28, 8 p.m., Musée d’art contemporain — This iconoclastic Québec collective made its name with a mind-blowing show dedicated to the Tom Waits songbook. As wild as ever, L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres brings us a cabaret-style evening this time, based on the music of German composer Kurt Weill. Consisting of Bruno Bouchard, Jasmin Cloutier, Simon Drouin, Simon Elmaleh, Lyne Goulet, Philippe Lessard Drolet and Danya Ortmann, the young troupe has caused a sensation in Europe fusing theatre, poetry and music into an utterly unhinged spectacle. A sublime and contagious musical madness!
- Place des Arts and Maison symphonique de Montréal:175 Ste. Catherine Street West; 514 842-2112, 1 866 842‑2112 orlaplacedesarts.com
- L’Astral (Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan): 305 Ste. Catherine Street West; ticketmaster.ca, admission.com or 1 855 790-1245 —sallelastral.com
- Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal: 185 Ste. Catherine Street West; ticketmaster.ca, admission.com or 1 855 790-1245 — macm.org