WBGO Blog
  • The Len Dobbin Jazz Collection at Montreal Jazz Festival

    June 28, 2012. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Dear Readers!

    Beginning with Singers Unlimited from 10am-2pm this Sunday, July 1, Michael Bourne will broadcast live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The WBGO team will set up in the Mediatech (or Médiathèque if you're feeling French). Last year we were given a guided tour of one fascinating section of this fabulous jazz library. Take a look

    A vôtre festival, Becca Pulliam

    Picture 4

    Please click here for Serge Lafortune and a short tour of the Len Dobbin archive, to open officially this fall

    In Head Archivist Serge Lafortune’s words, or paraphrasing them, You have to come to Montreal to live the Festival. You have to come the Médiathèque to re-live the festival. (Think discothèque, but with media, not dance music.) Here is some of what he told me.

    SL: We wanted to preserve the memory of the jazz festival, and this memory was recorded through all the TV production we did over the years, all the pictures, over 200,000 pictures we took of artists, of the site, of the different venues, of everything. . . . We have 400 shows over thirty years plus people with cameras going onsite to shoot almost everything – speeches, cocktails, people working at the jazz festival, people in the streets, eating, drinking, having fun, kids playing in the musical park and everything. . . . all sorts of material. Interviews! Almost 1,000 interviews with jazz musicians. . . .

    Mediatheque welcome screen .. your portal to endless hours of viewing and listening
    Mediatheque welcome screen .. your portal to endless hours of viewing and listening

    . . . artists that come here, they ask for things, backstage they want this and that. All these documents, you may have access to those documents. So one day you’ll be able to have everything on the show – players list, their names, the contract, maybe how much money they had. Because the Festival is a non-profit organization, so this organization, you can have access to the documents. Over the years, those documents will be available to people.

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  • Montreal: How Prince Played Montreal

    July 7, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Photographer Autumn de Wilde, courtesy FIJM
    Prince at the Metropolis .. Photographer: Autumn de Wilde, courtesy FIJM

    Montreal Int'l Jazz Festival Director of Programming Caroline told me the story of how Prince's June 24-25, 2011, shows at the Metropolis came to be. She's CJ, I'm BP. -- Becca Pulliam

    CJ: It’s kind of amazing because he came in 2001 and he really loved his experience. I know he loved Montreal and the vibe and the Festival. We’ve been trying to get him since then to come back. We never heard back. And three weeks ago, I was out of the office and my assistant called and she said, “Prince’s agent called and says Prince wants to come to Montreal." What? So then my colleague Johanne Bougie, who had booked him in 2001, took over and she just arranged everything. He was supposed to come and play three nights, but he decided to go to Europe earlier [than expected, leaving him two nights in Montreal]. It was kind of a festival within the Festival because to get Prince in town, it’s, he’s a genius but it’s something difficult.
    BP: How many people come when you book Prince?
    CJ: You mean come with him, or festival goers? Oh, both. Well it sold out in 45 minutes.
    BP: How many shows?
    CJ: Two shows in a 2,000 capacity venue, so 4,000 tickets in 45 minutes.
    BP: How did you announce that he was coming in the first place?
    CJ: Press release. We just announced it with a press release, radio, the national radio got in with us and other radios, just announced it like that and Facebook and things like that. It goes very fast.

    Emphasis is mine! I learned a lot from Caroline (kah roh LEEN), and if you'd like to read the entire conversation, the transcript follows the "jump."

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  • The Montreal Jazz Festival: last day, 4th of July

    July 5, 2011. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Happy Birthday to WBGO VP of programming Thurston Briscoe, celebrating with us at the jazzfest.

    The B-52s
    The B-52s close out the festival

    And mercy buckets to WBGO tech wizard David Tallacksen. For engineering our broadcast from the Maison du Festival videoteque. (Have a look at the Becca Pulliam video tour of the videoteque.) For the photographs and videos. (Have a look at Jake Shimabukuro, the Jimi Hendrix of the ukelele, flabbergastingly live on the show.) For administering all of our blogs. (When I first came to Montreal 20 years ago, blogs were not yet invented. And no e-mail. And no instant video.) Whenever David clicks something and techno-magic happens, I feel downright Neanderthal.

    WBGO's David Tallacksen, usually behind the camera
    WBGO's David Tallacksen, usually behind the camera

    Curiously, ironically maybe, the only music I did not enjoy much (if at all) bookended the jazzfest. Robert Plant on the first night was artistically interesting more than musically compelling. The B-52's on the last night, party though it was, with countless thousands dancing and singing along to hits I never heard before, were for me only loudly lame. Fred, the lead singer, on the Jumbotron looks like a creep you warn children about.

    One-third of the Pilc Moutin Hoenig Trio - Francois Moutin
    One-third of the Pilc Moutin Hoenig Trio - Francois Moutin

    Best for me at the world's best jazz festival:

    Diana Krall, solo, with her loving reminiscence of Fats Waller and other songs she learned as a child from her mom and dad.And all the concerts at Gesu, Centre de Creativite -- that I will always call the Jesus Room: Brad Mehldau solo, George Wein and Anat Cohen, Phil Woods and Grace Kelly, pianist Francois Bourassa, especially the kaleidoscopic Trio Pilc/Moutin/Hoenig and the fun finale of Cyrus Chestnut.

    I've been traveling to music festivals since Woodstock, and I've been to most of the best jazzfests around the world, but musically, artistically, philosophically, and professionally there's none better than FIJM, and no other festival is operated by folks so lovingly as everyone (especially the press folks) of Festival International de Jazz de Montreal.

    Next year will be my 20th. Je reviendrai a Montreal ...

    --Michael Bourne