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!
Cachaca on West 8th Street is new. (Much on West 8th Street is new.) It's a deep, inviting, sound-lively room and the John Fedchock's Big Band took it over tonight. The band has been together 20 years with consistent personnel, but I understand it doesn't often play live. Having heard some tracks on BGO, I've been determined to get out and see them. Good idea! Trombonist and composer Fedchock is a veteran of the Woody Herman orchestra. Two of John's arrangements in the middle of the set -- of Eclipse by Freddy Hubbard and Epistrophy by Monk -- seemed to transcend the situation. Eclipse had a phrase that (to me) channeled the Woody Herman's orchestra, which I've never heard but I'm sure I heard it in that phrase. In Epistrophy there was a short stretch (a matter of measures) that sounded JUST LIKE New York gridlock. Stuck but with energy. I couldn't stop to ponder how they did that because I would have missed the next excitement. There was background writing for most of the solos, no one was left to fend for himself for long. Once again (as last week with the Roy Hargrove Big Band), the room moved. That's my report & I'm happy to deliver it. The most recent CD is Up and Running (Reservoir label).