• Being "Montreal"

    July 4, 2010. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I've come to think of "Montreal" as an adjective.  FIJM presents music every year that evolves the spirit, the forms, the styles, the elements, the very character of jazz.  Darwinian evolution indeed, because only the fittest survive.  I've heard so often at FIJM artists endeavoring to play jazz in new and even epochal ways.  Not all do, but those that do always delight me best at the fest.

    Ibrihim Maalouf plays FIJM

    Ibrahim Maalouf, Lebanese 4-valve trumpeter, playing what I'd call Semitic BeBop, solos like calls to prayer, or burning straightahead like Fats Navarro at the bazaar.

    Daniel Mille, French accordionist, lyrical breath from the bellows, neo-musette gracefully swinging.

    Chano Dominguez, Spanish pianist with a great trio, plus a singer chanting from the depths of his soul and a dancer stomping like a whirlwind, flamenco meets Kind of Blue.

    Punk Bop, quartet of Ari Hoenig at the drums, often playing lead (and even the melody of "Moanin") with bassist Matt Penman, guitarist Gilad Hekselman, pianist Tigram Hamasyan, criss-crossing rhythms, an interplay of musical dynamics as much as melodies.  It's actually physically exciting hearing musicians playing with such a very real feeling of renewing and re-creating what jazz was and is and is becoming.

    Caravan Palace, a classic-style swing band (violin, clarinet, acoustic bass and guitar) with a beat-box, swinging that much harder, hip-hop Django, with an acrobatic (and sweetly sexy) singer, plus dancers goofily jitterbugging .

    L'Orchestre International du Vetex, photo courtesy FIJM

    And then there's L'Orchestre International du Vetex, playing outdoors around the festival, playing as if Sousa down the rabbit hole: 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, a thundering tuba player, alto and baritone, an accordionist in a sparkling jacket and goggles, a drummer in a cocktail dress booming an almost relentless 4-beat on a bass drum wheeled in a surreal (Mercedes logo with a disembodied hand) pram, plus a bald (pink-headed from the sun) drummer crashing cymbals.  They dance, sometimes one by one, sometimes in a chorus, sometimes with the audience, sometimes just running around, solos from a melancholy saxist or a trumpeter blasting musical confetti,  a circus parade from Wonderland, actually from Belgium...and very Montreal.

    -- Michael Bourne

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