June 30, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Daily at 5:30, the Parade de la Louisiane with Le Swing Tonique Jazz Band and Swing Connexion snakes through the crowd on the Place des Arts at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Children go crazy! Adults too.
Click "read more" for additional pictures... Read more
© 2008 WBGO
June 29, 2008. Posted by Amy Niles.
That’s what people say when you first meet them here in Montreal. They don’t assume that you understand them, they welcome you in. And in the rare case that someone does not speak English, they are apologetic for it. As if the onus to communicate is on them, not on you.
Yesterday was filled with fresh smells and beautiful images at the Jean Talon Market. A place that is off most tourist’s radar screen, but a must see if you are trying to get the flavor of this city. The famous Quebec strawberries ( a clown walking around even offered us a sample!), we met the woman who owns the cows that make the milk for the cheese that she was hoping that we would sample. The person who grilled the sausages wanted to tell us about the process that was used to make them. Go with an appetite- every stall had not only a beautiful display of produce and wares, but also samples to taste- berries, and plums and nectarines. Even little cups of jams and juices. And each offering is a work of art- maybe a flower placed in the center of a basket of berries, or a sprig of parsley brightening up a mound of mushrooms. You taste with all of your senses at the Jean Talon Market. I came back with figs and berries for the most wonderful midnight snack as I prepared for another much anticipated night of music.
Coral Egan is a very popular local singer. Her two sold out nights are a testament to the love that this town has for its home grown talent. One of the interesting things that I have noticed about the Montreal artists is that they aren’t pigeonholed into one genre or instrument. Coral sings the blues, and standards, and rock. I could picture her singing in a smoky Canadian club, or an outdoor beach jam in Malibu. She plays her set barefoot, with her toned body swaying on the piano bench or enveloping her guitar. Her backup singer did her turn on all of the instruments too. And of course she slipped in and out of English and French. You may not like it all, but the sum of her parts made for one captivating evening.
It was an honor to be present watching Brad Mehldau and Hank Jones perform together. The sheer genious of the producers of this event to create such a magical evening has to be commended- and the audience owes them a debt of gratitude for the opporuntity to witness these artists together. Who led? Who’s style won out? I can’t say. It was pure harmony. I will let Becca and Michael talk about the jazz aspects, but for me- the fortunate listener, it was an evening that will stay with me for a long time.
This is why I come to Montreal. Gee- I have said that about so many things this trip!
© 2008 WBGO
June 29, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.
Four hours of Brad Mehldau here on June 28, 2008, were magnificent! first with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums, the other at two pianos with Hank Jones. A great trio stretch was "Samba e Amor" by Chico Buarque with a beautiful left hand piano solo, an untitled new piece, "We See" by Monk, and "Baby Plays Around" by Elvis Costello, an anthem of regret. All music, almost no talk, applause between pieces seemed never to end. There were two encores. That concert began at 6 and went past 8. Ninety minutes later, Brad came back with Hank Jones.
The pianists were born about fifty years apart. As a high school student, Brad had seen Hank at Bradley's club in New York, and been inspired. Tonight, they played together for the first time. After three pieces they switched pianos (Their benches went with them, in a clever piece of stagecraft). Even on the other's piano, they sounded like themselves -- Hank a little warmer, Brad a little brighter -- on "Anthropology," "There Is No Greater Love," "Lullaby of Birdland" and "The Very Thought of You."
I love Hank's underpinnings, like his two-handed paddle, and his concentration. By the way, he's turning 90 later this summer. Brad drums on notes, fast and precise. His hands mirror one another, effortlessly. Though he can throw an elbow (Jones is back straight, arms at sides), they were both as economical as dancers, and partnering each other tonight. I hope this concert was recorded.
Click here for Monk's "Work" performed by the Brad Mehldau Trio.
The Montreal audience and the staging are essentials in this package. Don't have a photo yet, working on a little audio sample, and in the meantime, here's something from the farmers' market that Amy & I went to yesterday. Think of New York's new venue, Le Poisson Rouge.
© 2008 WBGO
June 28, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.
Schwartz's for lunch with my Other Half, Michele, and my BFF, Amy. Montreal smoked meat is like pastrami, and it's best at Schwartz's, an old Jewish deli with large chunks of the meat in the window. Crowds wait in line all day to eat at the little tables. When you order a sandwich, you're asked "lean, medium, or fat?" I opt for medium, comes on rye with mustard and a giant pickle. I walked back down St Laurent and the Hill, the walk a payback to my body for ingesting so much meat ...
Eating, walking around, hanging with some of my favorite people in the world, especially all the loveable kids in the press room, is why I come every year. And the music ...
M. le Juge was back judging at 6 a sextet called The Odd Lot, playing free funk with a ferocious tenor player. I also heard a piano trio called Indigone Trio. Even though they were all reading charts, the interplay sounded (and felt) spontaneous, especially in the rhythmic effects of the drummer. Both of these groups I felt are in the running for the prizes, but I have 7 more groups yet to judge.
Brad Mehldau played a solo recital in the Jesus Room (salle de Gesu), mostly standards ("No Moon at All," "Secret Love," "Airegin," "God Only Knows") with flabbergasting chops. I appreciated how he de-constructed melodies, but every song turned into a display of rambling and rumbling, virtuosic but exhausting.
1st trip to Pizzadelic: chevre et noix (goat cheese, walnuts, black olives, tomatoes, mozzarella) and siciliana (various Italian meat) ...
© 2008 WBGO
June 28, 2008. Posted by Amy Niles.
What is the one word that comes to mind when I think of Montreal? It’s love. True confessions: the first time I came here, it was to flee tortured love. But now, every time I am here, I find new love. Love for this eclectic city, love of music, love of food, love for life.
My day started yesterday over café au lait with two women who are charged by profession with promoting Montreal- Emmanuelle and Julie from Tourisme Montreal. They are actually paid to wax poetic about what makes Montreal so special. They let me in on a few hidden treasures and turned me loose to the streets.
We have pastrami and corned beef in New York, but Montreal has the smoked meat of Schwartz’s. But I was in the mood for a steak. Again, not something that I can’t get in New York, but Schwartz’s serves it with a twist- when was the last time that you were served a pickle, cole slaw, French fries and a hot dog with yours? And the experience started with a piece of grilled liver. Maybe not the best I’ve ever had (and I passed on the liver and hot dog!), but they do something right if the line halfway down the block is any indication of popularity. And it was before noon!
New York and Montreal share many features- unfortunately humidity is one of them. But that didn’t stop me from walking on St Laurent and peeking into smart looking furniture shops- hmm, maybe it is time for a pied a terre in Montreal!
I can’t come to Montreal without my ritual beauty stop. I swear I get a better facial here than anywhere else in the world (and trust me when I say that I have tried my share!).. My haunt is Lise Watier’s institut on Laurier. She is Montreal’s beloved grande dame of cosmetics. You can’t go to a makeup counter anywhere in this city without seeing her products.
Emmanuelle and Julie were insistent that I try Bilboquet for gelato and sorbet. So, glowing skin and more walking past lovely houses surrounded by lush shade gardens brought me to St Bernard and this popular place. I can get lemon sorbet anywhere, but I had to try the apricot and pear. Perfect. And even on a Friday afternoon- packed.
Now I was craving what I came here for- the music. And this is where the love really came in. I picked just one event for today- and while my choice was not mainstream jazz, it reflected one of the special opportunities this festival affords- to hear artists who may not be on my radar screen. Yael Naim was exactly that. But I definitely was in the minority because I seemed to be the only person who was new to her. I am a fan. This women, her talented band and her music are infectious. How many times have I gone to a concert and commanded the artist to “show me”? Yael made the audience a player and said thank you to them. You may recognize one of her songs from the Apple Airbook commercials and undoubtedly many people in the audience knew her from that. They left knowing her spirit. And certainly her love of all she does.
Check her out:
© 2008 WBGO