• The Montreal Jazz Festival: Day 6, 6/29/11

    July 2, 2011. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I`m still catching up, typing about Day 6 on Day 9. There`s so much happening always and all ways in Montreal.
    More pizza.
    More people.
    More music.
    All great.

    Hilary Kole played the festival`s own jazz joint, L`Astral. She was virtually voiceless from bronchitis, but performing is anesthetizing, and, other than a slight (maybe even sexy) raspiness, Hilary was singing (especially a smoldering "Come Back To Me") and even playing piano with oodles of chops and charms.

    Darcy James Argue Secret Society, photo courtesy FIJM

    Darcy James Argue and his Secret Society orchestra played his historically inspired and politically intensified music in the Jesus Room. Argue`s earnestness in talking about the tragedy of Robespierre in the past or an innocent unjustly tortured as a terrorist in the present comes through his music. Argue orchestrates like a painter`s lines of color or a sculptor`s shapes and turns. "Habeas Corpus" created almost visual images for me, as if composed by Seurat with (instead of colorful dots) repeated points of sound around the orchestra. "Transit" scooted this way and that as trumpeter Ingrid Jensen burst through the rush.
    Every year at FIJM I hear music (usually in the Jesus Room) that re-defines or re-invigorates what jazz is or can be, and one of this year`s inspired (and inspiring) twists of the kaleidoscope came from Argue`s Secret Society.

  • Montreal Jazz Festival in Photos: Jeremy Pelt

    July 2, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

    Jeremy Pelt and Wired played at L'Astral, the club in the Maison du Jazz. Frank Locrasto on keyboards, the bassist is Burniss Earl Travis, the drummer is Dana Hawkins. There was a nice crowd and I saw the end of the set -- Jeremy all alone on "Don't You Know I Care" morphing into "The Things We Did Last Summer," then everybody in for "Scorpio." That's the first music in this piece made from my interview with Jeremy, June 30, 2011.

  • Montreal Jazz Festival in Photos: Anouar Brahem

    July 2, 2011. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM 2011

  • The Montreal Jazz Festival: Day 5, 6/28/11

    July 2, 2011. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    "I respect individualities and I like particularities," says designer Jean-Paul Gaultier in an intro to his art at Montreal`s Musee des Beaux-Arts. Often during the summer`s jazzfest, Montreal`s Fine Arts Museum presents eye-boggling exhibits retrospecting great artists. I remember especially exhibits of Jean Cocteau, Rene Magritte, and last year`s (also ear-boggling) show about Miles Davis. Gaultier himself likes the MBA look-back because it`s more than a chronology. "From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" is artistic in the very presentation of Gaultier`s life`s work.

    Mannequins dressed in Gaultier`s designs have faces projected. They speak. They sing. They smile. Or they look around at the faces looking at them. Gaultier himself is a mannequin, talking about his life`s passions. He`s obviously got a thing for mermaids. And sailors. Multi-culti, often androgynous, sometimes kinky, and frequently witty, Gaultier`s designs offer a colorful and provocative look at the miscellaneous beauty of life. "I mix and match, twist and crossbreed codes," says Gaultier. "Past, present, here, elsewhere, masculine, feminine, remarkable, humdrum, it all co-exists." Madonna`s cone bras. Scottish kilts with Mohawks. A wedding dress with a headdress of cascading white feathers. A flapper`s dress of wisping pheasant feathers. A gown he created with a python skin. A gown Madonna wore without the cones or a bra. Photos. Videos. Design renderings. Designs like virtual paintings. Scenes from movies he`s designed, especially the relentless wackiness of The Fifth Element. It all co-exists indeed at the MBA.

    When first looking at the dresses, I kept wondering if anyone in real life actually wears Gaultier`s art, or wants to. And then I kept seeing young women looking at the mannequins, one especially as if seeing beyond the fashions, looking as if seeing herself on the catwalk of Jean-Paul Gaultier.

    dianaAgain at the Maisonneuve, on the stage were props. Out came a butler-like fellow, cranked an old phonograph player, and played a scratchy 78, a song about a curtain coming down. Out came, looking lovely and happy, Diana Krall. She sat at the piano. She played along with the record. And then she jumped into "Peel Me a Grape." She`s been playing FIJM since the mid-90`s when she played a tribute to Nat Cole in the bistro of the Juste pour Rire comedy museum, one of the most full-tilt swinging concerts I`ve ever heard, in Montreal or anywhere. Ever since then, she`s come back to her favorite jazz festival, playing bigger and bigger concerts as her star acsended. She thanked artistic director Andre Menard for "letting me do what I wanted ... within reason."
    This year, after playing several shakedown concerts, including one at NJPAC, Diana played three sold-out concerts, her first ever all-solo concerts. Mostly what she played were songs she learned from her mom and dad. Fats Waller songs. And obscure heartbreakers from the 20`s and 30`s. "Imagine a girl going to third grade and singing all these tragic songs," she laughed. Fats Waller was a favorite and, as photos of Fats were projected into a large frame hanging above the stage, she played and sang "Your Feet`s Too Big" and a wistful "Keepin`Out of Mischief Now."

    "Still smell the cigarettes," she said looking through her father`s sheet music. "Glad Rag Doll" is a song she remembers from a forgotten movie with the forgotten Delores Costello. Cliff Edwards and Gene Austin, pop singers of the 30`s, she remembered, and a George Jessel song (even I never heard before) she sang with photos of the past projected into the frame, including home movies from her own past. Diana`s performance was enchanting and deeply intimate as she celebrated her first musical loves, and for an encore she even played her ukelele. She also played a touching song she wrote with her husband Elvis Costello and a lullaby she sings to their twins.

    I`ve very much enjoyed watching Diana Krall grow up at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and I enjoyed all the more hearing how her musical life so joyfully began.

  • At the Montreal Jazz Festival, waiting for the evening to begin

    July 1, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    The crew at the Gesu has a picnic before the sound check .. these are the people who do the great sound & lights .. I'm looking forward to Don Byron there at 6:00, followed by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the club L'Astral, Richard Galliano & Gonzalo Rubalcaba in concert, and finally Trio Pilc Moutin Hoenig back at the Gesu

    Gesu Crew