Music

John Abbott

Monument-National is about a block from Place des Arts on Boulevard Saint-Laurent. When I first came to Montreal, the corner of the block was virtually red-lighted. Sexy lingerie shops. Sexy porn shops. And actual sex for sale.

Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer and Lauren Kinhan Kinhan of the New York Voices host concerts they call “Vocal Mania” every month at the Zinc Bar. Lauren sings. Janis sings. They welcome friends to sing. 

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Valeriegay Bessette for FIJM

The Montreal Jazz Festival every year presents awards named for some of the greatest artists who've played at the festival. All of the awards were created to celebrate an artist's life's work.

I couldn't see all of the awards shows this year. Some of the shows were happening at the same time. George Thorogood, honored with the BB King Award for a blues artist, was playing down the hall from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, honored with the Miles Davis Award for an international musician whose work and influence the jazzfest acknowledges as "regenerating the jazz idiom."

The Gesu
David Tallacksen for WBGO

"Gesu" is an Italian name for Jesus. "Le Gesu" is the name of the Jesuit church near Place des Arts in the heart of Montreal.

"The Jesus?" I wondered.

Marc-Andre shrugged and laughed. "The whole name is Le Gesu--Centre de creativite."

He's been a festival friend for years. Now he's the major domo of the arts center at the church -- which includes a theatre down below that seats 240 or so fest-goers -- which includes me throughout Festival International de JAZZ de Montreal.

Stevie Wonder performs at Montreal Jazz Festival 2009.
YouTube

BRULANT !!

"Chaud" is the everyday French word for "hot" -- but "brulant" is le mot juste: the perfect word. Translates (according to Babylon) as "burning, scorching." Also "scalding, roasting."

Every day that I've been in Montreal this time, someone I know or strangers at the festival gasps something about the heat. "Is it always this hot when you come here?" a sweating fellow in an elevator wondered.

The immense popularity of pianist Erroll Garner was certified in 2015 with the issuing of The Complete Concert By The Sea — 60 years after Garner made the original 1955 recording. It was the best-selling jazz album of its era! So one can imagine the excitement of new, previously unheard material, this time taken from a 1964 midnight concert at The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Sarah Geledi

Laurent Saulnier isn't shy when pushing the boundaries of jazz. For 19 years, the V.P. of Programming for the largest jazz festival on the planet has made the case that jazz is much more than swing and bebop, but a style that informs many of the popular sounds we listen to today.

George Thorogood
Victor Diaz Lamich for FIJM

"I first played in Montreal in 1978," said George Thorogood from the stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival. 

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Victor Diaz Lamich for FIJM

"I'm trying to define what it means to be a woman in her 60's," said Dee Dee Bridgewater, catching her breath, leaning back on a stool, and laughing. In the middle of the stage. In the middle of the show.

Not that she was done.

Dee Dee was quickly up and dancing, singing another of the soul classics she's revisited on her newest album, "Memphis...Yes, I'm Ready."

Henry Butler
Tim Ellis

New Orleans-born pianist Henry Butler, known for his stylistic fluency and musical power, died yesterday at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer.

Ulli Gruber

Dave Holland keeps it moving. After being active in music for well over half a century, the English bass legend is arguably busier and more open-minded than ever — collaborating with musical masters from India and Tunisia as well as the United States.

 


Victor Diaz Lamich for FIJM

Toujours ici -- I am always here.
At the jazzfest in Montreal.  26 years.
And it's not as if I've come back year after year.   A plane to Montreal feels no different to me than a train to Newark.
I'm always at WBGO.  It's where I live every day.
I'm always in Montreal.  It's the same life.

This trip, right away, I've been hearing Charles Aznavour singing.  All of the songs about time.  Especially his song "Je n'ai pas vu le temps passer." "I have not seen the time go by."

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Jazz is often described as the original American art form. Here are five choice cuts, by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Carla Bley, that make the connection explicit.

Grant Green is the subject of two newly released recordings of incredible jazz guitar: one from the late 60’s in France, and the other showing Green’s transformation from straight-ahead playing to a more funk-influenced style, captured in Vancouver.

Jim Marshall / Jim Marshall Photography LLC

You’ve surely seen reports about the newly discovered studio session by the John Coltrane Quartet, recorded on March 6, 1963.

JOE ALPER / JOE ALPER PHOTO COLLECTION LLC

The improbable new release by John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, arrives with the excitement of a rare celestial event. A small trove of previously unissued studio material recorded by the saxophonist and his quartet on a single day in 1963, it has already caused a commotion prior to its release this Friday. "Like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid," is how Sonny Rollins described the discovery, in a quote from the liner notes that has widely circulated, as a fond gesture from one colossus to another.

After five years of vital funding, it looked like the end for the Doris Duke Artist Awards, one of the most prestigious — and sizable — grants in the United States available to artists working in jazz, contemporary dance and theater. A satellite initiative of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, it reached that firm, five-year expiration date set in its inaugural year on June 30, 2017.

Lonesome Blues is a play about blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson, one of the best-known and best-selling blues artists of the 1920’s. His emotional singing was powerful, and nobody played guitar like Lemon. He rarely played in strict danceable time, and his sometimes whimsical, sometimes dramatic guitar often burst every which way. Lemon’s playing and singing is in the DNA of all the blues artists who came after him. Lonesome Blues imagines him on his last night, only in his mid-30’s, dying in the cold of Chicago, remembering highs and lows of his life.

On March 6, 1963, John Coltrane and his quartet arrived at Van Gelder Studios in New Jersey to record an album. It was a busy time for the group, which featured pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones.

Kamasi Washington's idea of heaven is the world he creates and retreats to in his mind. The jazz torchbearer's double album Heaven and Earth, out today, represents that inward heaven versus his outward reality on Earth.

Hadas

Justin Brown — the drummer behind acclaimed, forward-thinking musicians like Thundercat, Flying Lotus, and Ambrose Akinmusire — is  ready to make his own statement.


Courtesy of Joe and Nancy Marciano

Jazz has its hallowed locations, those rare spots where the music attains full dimension and history is repeatedly made. Right away one thinks of the great clubs, but a recording studio can just as readily serve such a function.

Chris Tobin

Since Julian Lage focused his attentions on a Fender Telecaster a couple of years ago, his music has become more country, more sparse, and arguably more soulful. Lage recently brought his trio onto Morning Jazz to talk about that shift, and play a few tunes from his newest album, Modern Lore.


Chris Tobin / WBGO

Tenor saxophonist JD Allen’s new release, Love Stone, is a departure from what his fans are accustomed to hearing.

After telling his story on albums ranging from his 1999 debut, In Search of JD Allen to last year’s Radio Flyer, Allen turns here to stories of love.

Jimmy Katz

In Take Five this week, some killer bassists step out front.

WBGO

It would be impossible to overstate the importance of Dorthaan Kirk to WBGO.

Newark’s First Lady of Jazz, as she’s widely known, has also been the spiritual center of our organization. Today is her last day in the building, though she will continue to be a vital (and no doubt vocal!) member of our family.

Anna Webber

Cyrille Aimée is always having fun on stage. She smiles in countless photos from her concerts. And in her smile is the joy of a little girl who grew up near the birthplace of Django Reinhardt, and who snuck out at night to sing with the gypsies.

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