June 28, 2008. Posted by Amy Niles.
When a 14 year old says clap and a sold out room of people of every age does so willingly, something is happening. Her name is Nikki Yanofsky and while her audience could have easily been attending a performance of Wicked, they chose to come to the Montreal Jazz Festival. And this kid is choosing to sing jazz. She sings her lungs out. Maybe not her heart, cause quite frankly at 14, she doesn’t have the right to sing the blues, but the audience didn’t care one bit. She reminded me of reading Julie Andrews writing about her life as a 12 year old phenom in England- she could hit every note, but she had years to go before she learned how to sing. I am prepared to wait.
And then I listened to an audience full of people singing happy birthday to Hank Jones who is about to turn 90 this month. Michael Bourne was with me and he has already eloquently described the Jones and Jones experience. Hank Jones and Oliver Jones treated me to an evening that I may never get to witness again. And Nikki Yanofsky gave me a clue to what I have to look forward to in the future.
But the shining star of the evening was our divine Dee Dee Bridgewater. Gutsy. Beautful. After her show, watching the line of people waiting to meet her as she signed autographs at Archambault ( the hidden gem of a media store in the Place des Artes), personified the meaning of adoring fans. Dee Dee glowed. They loved her French, her English, her spirit.
I went to three different concerts. A night of jazz in many forms. And I loved every minute of it.
© 2008 WBGO
June 27, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.
Day One Thursday June 26th
As if I needed more adrenalin, my plane to Montreal was cancelled. I was bumped to a plane that got me in at 5:30, rush hour with a long drive to the jazzfest, but (since I deserve some extra breaks this year after missing last year with the heart attack) I got to the Hyatt Regency on the Place des Arts just in time to hand off my bags to a porter and meet Marie-Pierre Blais, the very sweet and very efficient wrangler of judges for the General Motors band competition and Galaxie composition competition. It`s my 4th time judging. We only sit through the first 30 minutes, then we`re hustled away, and they arranged our chairs right in front of the bandstand -- so the band plays while seeing judges scribbling on clipboards, and then we walk out en masse. First band was a straightahead quintet from Toronto fronted by drummer Daniel Barnes, playing pretty much generic 50`s-60`s -- but then they got into a good 7/4 Herbie-ish Blue Note groove. First mainstage concert was the first of four duets concerts in the Invitation series of Hank Jones, joined by Montreal`s own piano master Oliver Jones. They played standards and blues, melodically swinging and counterpointing each other so easily that often one could not tell who was playing what. Highlight was a lovely Àmazing Grace, and they spotlighted two tunes of Oscar Peterson. This year`s jazzfest is dedicated to Oscar, who was born in Montreal. An enormous photo of Oscar hangs from the facade of the big hall on the Place des Arts. Hank knew Oscar since Oscar came on the scene in the 40`s. Oliver knew Oscar even before then, when they were both coming up in Montreal. I can never remember whose sister was a piano teacher for both of them. I`ll ask Oliver when he comes on the broadcast next week -- Wed-Fri, 2nd-4th -- FIJM on WBGO ...
© 2008 WBGO
June 26, 2008. Posted by Amy Niles.
I write this sitting in the press room of the Festival International de JAZZ de Montreal, looking out at a sea of banners announcing JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ and more wonderful JAZZ. Facing me is the image of a special man we lost last year, Oscar Peterson, displayed proudly on the building that houses two of the main stages of this great festival. Tonight, I will walk past Oscar to hear Dee Dee Bridgewater and then two of the greatest living pianists of our day- Hank Jones and Oliver Jones, performing together, with Oscar Peterson looking over all of us.
Its too early- even for this festival- for the music to start from all of the outdoor stages surrounding the Place des Arts, but the soundchecks go on, the crews deliver cases of instruments and cables and speakers, and the excitement builds. The WBGO team will be blogging from "The Montreal Jazz Festival" in the coming days, sharing some of the highlights not only of the festival, but the wonderful city that welcomes us all every year to share in this extraordinary event.
If you are here, let us know. Share your thoughts and experiences. Where are you eating? What are you seeing? Who have you discovered? With so many events going on, we can't possibly bring all of them to those of your reading this. But you can share your experiences. I promise to put up some photos as I go.
I can't sit still anymore- I've got a whole city to explore... First stop: got to buy my tee shirt!
© 2008 WBGO