Jazztastic summertime tuneage

Jamie O'Meara

Jazz, and all that jazz. It’s that time of the year in Montréal when jazz generously expands its vast stylistic umbrella to encompass everything from rock to pop, blues, reggae, electronica and world music, drawing all flavours of music lovers to both paid indoor and free outdoor shows at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Let’s take it from the top…

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The 11 Days of Jazzmas

Essentially Christmas for music fans, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal – which takes place June 28 to July 8 – is not only the largest annual gathering of music fans in Montréal, it is the de facto largest jazz festival in the world according to Guinness (the world records, not the beer – everything seems bigger when the beer is talkin’). For 11 days, the Jazz Fest is the epicentre of the music universe, with great tunes, food and fun to be found everywhere throughout its downtown outdoor site in the Quartier des Spectacles.


By the numeros

The grand dame of the city’s summer festival season, every year the Jazz Fest records over two million visits. Now embarking on its 38th consecutive year, organizers have scheduled over 500 concerts – 350 of which are free – featuring some 3,000 musicians from 30 countries on 20 stages. In addition to the musicians, there are also 130 street artists performing around the festival site. And all the playing and performing also works up appetites for something other than just great entertainment: over 60,000 litres of beer and two-and-a-half tonnes of French fries are downed every year.

Class indoor acts

This year’s Jazz Festival paid indoor programming stretches out over 14 themed series at 150 concerts presented at 11 concert venues. Among the many big names booked are King Crimson (the iconic prog-rock band is coming as an octet complete with four, count ’em four, drummers), Thievery Corporation (the famed downtempo duo is bringing a Jamaican-influenced new album, The Temple of I & II), Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone (a double bill bridging soulful rock and rockin’ soul), LA LA Land in concert (the film will be screened and accompanied by l’Orchestre Métropolitain), legendary Québec jazz fusion group UZEB, The O’Jays (old school ’70s soul-funk), Feist (the indie darling has a new album, Pleasure), and a heavyweight triple blues bill featuring Buddy Guy, Charlie Musselwhite and the Steve Hill and Matt Anderson duo. And soooo much more. Have a gander at the complete indoor programming here.

Jazzing it up, free-style

The Jazz Fest is pulling out the stops in 2017 with no fewer than four free major concert events on its outdoor site. The fest’s dependably monumental Opening Event is scheduled for June 28, though organizers are being coy about its contents, saying only that we should ready ourselves for an unforgettable celebration specially conceived for the 375th anniversary of Montréal. For Canada’s 150th birthday, July 1, Place des Festivals will be transformed formed into an enormous outdoor dancefloor for Discothèque Canada 150, starring Carly Rae Jepsen, Men Without Hats, Radio Radio, Muzion, the Buffalo Hat Singers and Montréal party meister DJ Champion, accompanied by a battalion of 24 musicians, five singers and 35 dancers. On July 4, expect the unexpected when arguably the world’s most famous YouTube cover band, Canada’s Walk Off The Earth, play the mid-festival TD Grand Event. And Grammy-nominated singer, rapper and drummer Anderson Paak comes to town with his group The Free Nationals, tying an R&B bow around the festival at the Rio Tinto Grand Closing Event, July 8.

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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