WBGO Blog
  • Oui Et Oui: Montreal Jazz's French Connection

    June 27, 2013. Posted by Simon Rentner.

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    Caravan Palace. (Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist)

    Montreal is a city of two cultures: French and English, usually commingling, sometimes colliding. In their fight for cultural relevance, they are often at odds. In literature, they call this "two solitudes": part English, part French, but not quite either.

    Yet as Montreal modernizes and these divisions become less noticeable, one thing remains clear: Music, art and food still belong to the French. From chanson to Monet to foie gras, let's face it, France wins.

    So, naturally, the Montreal International Jazz Festival — Canada's grandest music event of the year — props up the city's elite Francophones. (See: the new Grévin museum.) Some are formed at home and others come from abroad, yet Americans have no clue about the majority of these artists. Most French musicians, and let's throw the Quebecois in that category, can't find gigs in the U.S.

    For American first-timers to the festival, this can be a revelation. Here are five French or Quebecois artists featured this year. Follow WBGO for more annual coverage from Montreal.

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  • Kenny Barron Quintet: Live At The Village Vanguard

    June 5, 2013. Posted by WBGO.

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    Kenny Barron. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    Among jazz musicians, especially in New York City, pianist Kenny Barron is considered an institution. He spent years in bands led by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Yusef Lateef and Stan Getz, and brings that wisdom to every note. He's put out dozens of albums, continues to write new music, and turns up in classrooms and on concert stages throughout the city. And he continues to play brilliantly, with clarity and ebullience alike — his latest album pairs him with an all-Brazilian band.

    For his 70th birthday week, Barron's band is playing another jazz institution: the Village Vanguard. Included in the repertoire are songs by the late Mulgrew Miller, another pianist of gentle temperament and profound capability. WBGO and NPR Music presented a live video webcast and radio broadcast of the Kenny Barron Quintet.

    Set List

    • "5/4 Blues" (Barron)
    • "Second Thoughts" (Mulgrew Miller)
    • "Mariposa de Sueño" (Samora Pinderhughes)
    • "Rain, Rain" (Barron)
    • "DPW" (Barron)

    Personnel

    • Kenny Barron, piano
    • Vincent Herring, alto saxophone
    • Brandon Lee, trumpet
    • Kiyoshi Kitagawa, bass
    • Lee Pearson, drums
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  • Miguel Zenón Quartet: Live At The Village Vanguard

    May 15, 2013. Posted by WBGO.

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    Miguel Zenón. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    Ever since he started becoming one of the best alto saxophone players in the world, Miguel Zenón has drawn influence from his upbringing in Puerto Rico. Folk melodies, forms and rhythms have inspired many of his technically astounding yet immediately gratifying works. So it makes sense that he's giving back. He's launched an initiative called Caravana Cultural, presenting free jazz concerts and lectures on the island. His latest album Oye!!! was recorded live in San Juan with Puerto Rican musicians. And his newest book of compositions was based on interviews with Puerto Ricans living in New York.

    Zenón too lives in New York, and his stunning U.S-based quartet has supported his every move for 10 years now. It's been invited to play a prestigious home date: It visits the Village Vanguard for a week in mid-May. It's the first time he's led a band at the Vanguard, and he brought his new tunes with him. WBGO and NPR Music presented a live video webcast and radio broadcast of the Miguel Zenón Quartet at this page.

    Set List

    All compositions by Miguel Zenón.

    • "Identities Are Changeable"
    • "My Home"
    • "Same Fight"
    • "Second Generation Lullaby"
    • "First Language"

    Personnel

    • Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone
    • Luis Perdomo, piano
    • Hans Glawischnig, bass
    • Henry Cole, drums

    Credits

    Host and Producer: Josh Jackson; Audio Engineer: David Tallacksen; Production Assistant: Josh Webb. Recorded May 15, 2013 at The Village Vanguard in New York, N.Y.

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