The Third Story takes on the Montreal International Jazz Festival
After a two-year slowdown due to COVID, the Montreal International Jazz Festival came back this year. I had been there a couple times, in and out, as a musician. I went this year to cover the festival's full return for WBGO and The Third Story.
When you’re a musician at a festival like MJF, the job is actually pretty clear. You get to the gig, play the gig, pack up and go to the next gig. But what does a member of the press do in this situation? I was given a credential badge to wear with the word JOURNALISTE written on it and an assignment to “find the story.”
Pretty quickly, a narrative started to reveal itself. Or rather, several narratives, all classics. The story of the young versus the old. The story about the past verses the present. And ultimately, the story of today’s community of musicians, what’s on their mind as they travel this Silk Road of Rhythm which is the summer jazz festival circuit —from Montreal to Marciac, from North Sea to Umbria and beyond.
Conversations with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Bill Charlap, Scott Colley, Aaron Goldberg, Samara Joy, Allison Miller, Gregory Porter, and various concert-goers, festival organizers and locals all helped to fill in the story.
Self-expression, politics, social media, technology, and conservationism were all part of the fabric, but the common thread between all of them was one of empathy and communion.
“This Music,” as so many of the musicians call it, represents human potential. And humans are complicated beings. But at our core, we are social beings and that is reflected in this Montreal Jazz Festival experience.