• David Sanchez Quartet - Saturday night in Montreal

    June 27, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Saxophonist David Sanchez led his group at the Theatre Jean Duceppe. He said he was happy to be with us, the band had had a rough airport day, it had not been fun. (They left Montreal right away on Sunday morning. We journalistes get to stay for several nights; the musicians don't.) But thanks to their persistence, this concert was even more than met the eye. Read more

  • Lorraine Desmarais solo piano at La Chappelle

    June 27, 2010. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    by Germain Bouleau, thanks to FIJM
    by Germain Bouleau, thanks to FIJM

    LORRAINE DESMARAIS is a pianiste montrealise who performs across and outside Canada. In 1984 she won the Montreal Jazz Festival's Yamaha Award and in 2002, the Oscar Peterson Prize. I saw her at the 2004 Fest in a two-piano concert with Chick Corea, one of her idols.

    Last night she performed solo at La Chappelle Historique du Bon Pasteur, a chapel in an old Montreal greystone on Sherbrooke and St. Denis. With a two-story black velvet curtain behind the Fazioli, and a crystal chandelier hanging low above it, this setting is theatrical.

    Read more

  • Montreal Jazzfest Day One

    June 27, 2010. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    I came a day early -- Quebec Day, the town mostly closed to celebrate.  So many of the Montrealers I know think of themselves as Quebecers, not necessarily Canadians.  Pizzedelic on St Denis was open -- trilogie des fromages (parmesan, mozzarella, feta) with green and black olives, pepperoni americain and saucisse Calabrese, on a whole wheat square -- with Borealle rousse (red beer) ...

    1st music 1st day: St Luc high school big band playing Herbie Hancock`s `Chameleon` below my window at the Hyatt.  I always want to overlook the Place des Arts.  Easier to get a room on the fest side, I`m told folks think it`s too noisy.  Even the day before, with only sound checks happening, about a thousand folks were hanging on the fest site.

    Where the concert pub Spectrum used to be (and last year was a hole) is now a fest boutique and the Pub Heineken.  Heard a rockabilly trio called the Hellbound Hepcats, locals all with grease-backed and pomped 50`s do`s.  Group`s acoustic bass player was thumping, plucking, strumming, slapping a beat so hard it`s a wonder his bass wasn`t splinters.

    Boz Scaggs and Brian Setzer opening night.  Andre Menard, the fest`s artistic director, wanted Boz for years but couldn`t get him.  I was expecting some of the jazzier standards he`s recorded recently, but he played his own standards, his own jazzy, bluesy, rocky (and quite nasally crooned) hits like `JoJo` for starters and a long `Loan Me a Dime` for an encore.  One of the local critics observed that Boz and Brian both have the initials BS -- Quebecois shorthand for Health and Welfare.  I observed that below the 49th Parallel BS means something else.

    `When we first wanted to present Brian Setzer as a Grande Evenement, we scared the police,`said Andre Menard.  Someone saw a picture of the Stray Cats and thought they`d draw a troublesome crowd.  Setzer`s big band drew over a hundred thousands folks to the new TD stage on the Place des Festivals, a main artery alongside Place des Arts that the city shut down for a year-round festsite.  I`d never heard any of Setzer`s many gigs in Montreal and really didn`t know what to expect.  The Brian Setzer Orchestra is a rockabilly trio with the 13 horns of a classic jazz band, rocking and swinging alike.

    `I love the sounds of music that come from the blues -- jazz, rock, country.  It all comes from the blues,` said Setzer at his press conference.  ` I never consciously thought about blending them.  It just comes out of my hands.`  Setzer`s guitar is ablaze on every song, flashing as much musical lightning as the triple rainbow of lights across  -- or the orange flames that leap above -- the TD stage.   Setzer talked about that musical intersection of styles and times when the big bands of the 40`s were ending and rock and roll of the 50`s was getting started.  That`s where his rockabilly swing comes from, and when he sang `Sexy and 17`,  kids jitterbugged on a platform in the middle of the crowd like the kids in turn-of-the-50`s  movies.  Most of his songs reminded me of jazz and rock classics, especially in Setzer`s arrangements of the horns.  He especially quoted Mancini classics, `Pink Panther`and `Peter Gunn.`  "Sleepwalk`was a highlight as Setzer extended  the eerie warble of Santo and Johnny from his tremolo bar into the whole orchestra.  `Flight of the Bumble Bee` was frighteningly fast, like a flamenco guitarist on acid,  amplified.  Eddie Cochran was his idol, and Setzer criss-crossed Cochran`s `Summertime Blues`with `Be-Bop-a-Lula.` `Rock This Town` was the inexorable climax, and Montreal was indeed rocking.

    I`ll be broadcasting live on WBGO from the contemporary art museum at the heart of Place des Arts, `Singers Unlimited` on Sunday the 27th 10AM-2PM and Monday-Wednesday the 28th-30th 2PM-6:30PM.  Tim Hauser and Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer (winners of the festival`s Ella Fitzgerald Award)  join me on Sunday, and we`ll have other interviews and musical highlights from the festival past and present.  Josh Jackson of `The Checkout,`  David Tallacksen, and Becca Pulliam from Jazz 88 have joined me and will also have photos and stories from the blog.