Jazz Festival Additions for 2014

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,
L’orchestre d’hommes-orchestres
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,  

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!

 

Peter Angrove and Ross Griffiths; Feeding the Needy at Christmas with Bands for Baskets

The West Island is rich right …?

No problems in this Utopian society. No sir …!

No crime, no gangs, no drugs, no weapons, no domestic violence and certainly no hungry families. For years – real estate developers and public officials hid these regular life problems from everyone.

Thankfully, as the world evolves and things are more and more being placed on the top shelf in the ‘ priorities room’ – the true nature of human nature is allowed to come out. So many families and individuals suffer at Christmas and often, through no fault of their own. Loss of employment, a divorce, separation or death of a loved one – can and does leave normal people in profound desperate situations. Life – altering experiences that can and do affect every individual differently.

Listen below as Peter Angrove explains what he and the rest of us can do to contribute this Christmas and allow the unfortunate to enjoy a great Holiday Season ….

Peter …Take it away …

Visit Bands for Baskets here!

Top Ten Musical Reasons to be Thankful

Where would we be without music?

Even the Monkees give pleasure to thousands globally through real and imagined tunes.

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Here now are the Top Ten Musical Reasons to be Thankful!

10. All the Blues and Country artists who set the foundation for popular music today. Rock, R and B, Soul, Disco, Rap, Hip Hop – practically all genres owe gratitude to the men and women from the past and present.

9. Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker.

8. Les Paul.

7. Leo Fender

6. Buddy Rich, Max Roach and Gene Krupa

5. Soundmen and women.

4. The Stones / The Beatles

3. Bob Dylan

2. Elvis

and the Number One Reason to be Thankful Musically??

1. Roadies!

Melissa Bel – A Voice To Be Reckoned with …

Melissa Bel is an up and coming artist who loves playing in Quebec!

A Toronto native, the young ‘starlet’ has musical roots based in musical  soul. She will be performing at The Rialto Theater on Nov. 23rd. Her night will contain all original music with maybe one cover thrown in …

Which one and who is her favorite performer of all time?

No – it is not her Father although he may rank a close second …

Please listen to Melissa’s thoughts and stick around to watch and listen to one of her latest songs afterwards. A real Canadian to watch out for … ( yes that’s her as a little girl in the video).

Visit Melissa’s site right here!

Styx; Making It Look Easy …

Remember the days when a Rock n Roll show was a Rock n Roll show?

In Montreal, ‘back in the day’, the anticipation could be felt hours before the show in Atwater Park. A green-space dotted with empty beer bottles, tossed – away ‘clips’ of joints and concert goers in various stages of sobriety.The only thing ‘straight’? The white line dividing East and West bound traffic on Atwater street itself …

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The festivities would easily carry over to The Montreal Forum once the doors of the fabled hockey shrine opened and invited people in. The atmosphere inside – a gathering of people wanting to have a good time. Frisbees, Beach Balls and a cloud of smoke shadowed the crowd on the floor while the folks in their seats – enjoyed  the entire scene with a grain of salt ( or a line of coke).

It was all about anticipation. Awaiting the band to come on. It was magical. No previews via Youtube of what the group looked like or sounded like the night before in ( insert name here),U.S.A. No Facebook pages with status updates from Jimmy Page or Humble Pie. No tweets from Tiny Tim. No nothing. That is what made a concert so exciting. ‘Live music’ from ‘live musicians’. The pinnacle of the music world performing the pinnacle of songs and the only place to witness it was live …

Last night, at The Olympia on Ste Catherine St. East – that anticipation was felt inside the venue. An excitement loomed overhead like the fog of marijuana smoke once did at the storied Forum.

There were two reasons for this. Most important,  Styx was ‘in the house’. Montreal audiences have a love affair with the band dating back to the days of ‘Sweet Madame Blue’. That song became a huge hit in Montreal before anywhere else in the world. That – combined with Montreal’s affection for prog-Rock bands such as Genesis, Yes and Marillion, gave the audience a ‘buzz’.

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The other principle reason for everyone getting their ‘undies in a bunch’ – is the city’s and the Province’s love affair with Lawrence Gowan. Starting with his appearances at Le Moustache (a club across the street from The Forum) and ending with his monstrous hits; ‘Strange Animal‘ and ‘Criminal Mind’ – Larry, Lawrence or Gowan is a household name in Montreal. Two acts – one heart. One love affair. Placing  Styx and him together? A combination worthy of anticipation. Peanut Butter and Jam. The ‘munchies’ for a crowd ‘stoned’ in nostalgia.

The excitement evolved into bliss with Gowan’s best Dennis DeYoung impersonation on the evening’s second song; Grand Illusion. The opening keyboards as obvious as Liberace’s penchant for all things non-female. The audience was hooked. Receiving what they came for and enjoying everything that came after.

“Fooling Yourself’ was no joke. Another tune from The Grand Illusion disc delivered with almost the same uniqueness of the studio version. Following a brief introduction of original guitarist – turned bassist; Chuck Panozzo, Gowan sent shivers down the spines of everyone with the opening words to ‘Lady’. The group’s hit from 1975. Many in attendance realizing it was that song which gave the opportunity for a slow dance back in high school. A song which has not only stood the test of time, a song  relevant more than ever in an era of disrespect towards …um …everyone.

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‘Lights Out’ came next followed by ‘In the Wilderness‘, the latter also from The Grand Illusion. An album which the band has played in it’s entirety ( along with Pieces of Eight) on recent tours. ‘In the Wilderness’ should have stayed ‘In the Wilderness’. Following more known songs – ‘Wilderness’ set the tone back except for the die hard Styx fans. A nonsensical choice that every cover band can do in their sleep. Inappropriate unless the Grand Illusion album was played out fully (which it was not).

‘Sweet Madame Blue’ and ‘Crystal Ball’ continued the party with the entire audience singing along  to a pair of songs which (arguably) placed Styx on the Rock n Roll map. ‘Miss America’ returned the group to ‘Wilderness’ levels once more – somehow losing whatever melody it had on vinyl to outright distorted guitars in concert.

Gowan to the rescue …!

‘Criminal Mind’ elevated the band from it’s corny prison routine and introduced Gowan to the crowd as the solo artist they once knew. A haunting song which made it’s way around the room like a ghostly presence. A homecoming of sorts for the man who loved Montreal so much – he recorded an album in French.

‘Stephanie’, Gowan’s hit ‘en Francais’ – followed a respectful jaunt to the time when  Styx started to lose fans. ‘Too Much Time on Your Hands’ is great in concert and annoying anytime else. A crowd-  pleaser unless the crowd happens to contain prisoners with a penchant for Primus. A fluffy piece of music meant for …?

Once more – Gowan to the rescue…

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The funnest part of the evening had Gowan (alone) do a medley. A ‘montage’of great songs from the past starting with his own hit; Moonlight Desires‘. Roughly thirty seconds of the subsequent songs carried out – much to the joy of the crowd. ‘Sweet Dreams’ by The Eurythmics, ‘Changes’ by Bowie, ‘Tiny Dancer‘ by Elton John and’You Can’t Alway Get What You Want’ by the Rolling Stones. Each choice gaining sing-a-long status from the crowd with Gowan’s urging. The Stones’ ballad receiving the loudest and longest rendition. ‘Fat Bottom Girls‘ (Queen) and ‘Another Brick in the Wall ( Pink Floyd) led Gowan into the night’s biggest moment …

Come Sail Away.

The eruption, the sing-a-long, the joyous reaction and the memories- all in your face! An anthem delivered. A typical Styx ballad -turned rocker. The ORIGINAL Styx crowd pleaser done with so much heart – so much 70’s flavor – it was perfect as the final song of the show. Leaving the audience begging for an encore. ‘Renegade’ kept the fires burning long enough, hard enough for Styx to not be lumped in to the ‘nostalgia act’ category.

Oldie acts do not have the energy Styx generated last night.

Over- the – hill acts do not put on a Rock n Roll show …!

Highlight of the Night; No Mr. Roboto!

Lowlight; No Babe?

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Bonnie Raitt; A Flower in the Mud

Imagine laying by the ocean on a warm summer day. The mist – soothing the aches caused by the immense heat of the sun …

Think of a child appearing with a toothless grin amid the staunchest boors at a dinner party from Hell. Place the pair of scenarios together like two wine glasses connecting in front of a fire on a cold winter’s eve. This was the feeling listening and watching Bonnie Raitt perform last night at Theatre St.Denis

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Seldom – in a world saturated and obsessed with everything wrong in the music world, do the diamonds shine through. Rarely, do musicians arrive with the ability to decipher songs for the right reasons along with the proper sentiment.

Some artists go to school and sign up for all the extra curricular activity. Bonnie Raitt is one of them.

Versed with a slide guitar seemingly sewn to her impossibly fit form, the recently- turned sixty – four year old delivered a lesson. Vocally, musically,lyrically and ‘sexily’. The crowd assembled – lost in a cloud of respect and awe …

A woman did not enter a ‘man’s world’ in the early 70’s. Especially the way Raitt did. Armed like a gunslinger – SHE fought the ‘guitar law’ and won. Setting ‘the stage’ for Nancy Wilson and Joan Jett. Allowing girl bands everywhere the right to rock. Raitt accomplished the feat while remaining true to her roots. Theatre St. Denis was treated to those roots through Raitt and some of the finest musicians this side of Memphis …

‘Hutch’ Hutchinson and Ricky Fataar held the ‘gas pedal’ at the right speed. A battery worthy of wealthy words. Tim Finnegan, on Hammond organ and keyboards – almost stole the show. His playing and starring vocals on ‘ I Got News for You’ – the perfect match for Raitt’s bluesy roots. Whether tinkling the keys as soft as a feather across a baby’s cheek or pounding hard as a rock on a cliff’s edge – Finnegan displayed the proper piano etiquette and then some …

George Marinelli – a Keith Richards‘ clone ( circa 2013 in appearance) and long – standing Raitt apostle, grounded Raitt’s slide to perfection while delivering proper leads and rhythm. A true piece of the folksy, country, blues, Pop and R and B puzzle. A musician’s musician.

Opening act Mark Cohn ( Walking in Memphis), delivered his hit along with sometimes tender balladry as well as a return appearance in the encore. He and Raitt dueling to ‘Crazy Love’ – a Van Morrison classic.

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Raitt herself, as calm and funny as a seasoned veteran should be. Following an ode to the late Gerry Rafferty with a genuine cover of ‘Right Down the Line’ – Raitt’s hit; ‘Something To Talk About’ – set the mood. Instantly recognizable and instantly infectious. Toes were tapping and tongues’ were waggin’ as Raitt eased into an evening complete in music.

I Can’t Make You Love Me‘ saw the emergence of Raitt’s soul. A song worn on dirty sleeves. Banter of a marriage – wasted, portrayed through song and words. ‘Angel from Montgomery‘ – the beautiful ballad penned by John Prine; sent shivers as the audience heard Raitt’s homage to her Mom. To her home. To her life …

Imagine laying by the ocean on a warm summer day. The mist – soothing the aches caused by the heat of the immense sun.

Imagine Bonnie Raitt …

Who the Fudge are The Walkervilles?

Growing up next to a firing range – may make it easier for someone to mature as a person who shoots guns … Well, the same can be said for a bunch of guys who grew up across from one of the greatest musical towns in the world. Say hello to the Walkervilles …

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The Walkervilles are openng up for the Tedeschi-Trucks band on Monday Nov.18th at Metropolis in Montreal.

Visit their site here!