What to see at the Montreal International Jazz Fest
Montreal. Sure, it's the name of one of the most beautiful cities in all of North America. Yet, it's also one word that causes the pulse of jazz fans to run a little quicker, anticipating all the good times and great music that are to be had at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Jazz, however, is only part of this festival's story. The event also hosts top names in blues, pop, rock, hip-hop, electronic dance music, R&B and world music.
The 33rd Montreal International Jazz Festival -- set for June 28 to July 7 -- is packed with enticing artists from all different types of genres. Here is our guide to some of the can't-miss shows at the 2012 festival. To keep things manageable, we only picked one show per day -- for each of the festival's 10 days -- although it would have been possible to list many more.
As we said earlier, this festival is absolutely loaded with talent.
For more information on the concerts listed, as well as about the overall festival, visit www.montrealjazzfest.com.
Here are our picks:
Spectrum Road (June 28): Now here's an act deserving of the title "all-star band." The group, which came together out of mutual admiration for the late, great jazz drummer Tony Williams, features blazing keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski Martin and Wood), virtuoso guitarist Vernon Reid (Living Colour), powerful drummer Cindy Blackman (who has performed with Pharoah Sanders, Ron Carter and other jazz greats) and legendary bassist Jack Bruce (Cream).
Wayne Shorter Quartet (June 29): Shorter is one of the greatest living jazz musicians -- right up there with fellow saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, as well as pianists McCoy Tyner and Dave Brubeck. He's also one of the genre's most gifted composers and band leaders.
Tangerine Dream (June 30): Formed in 1967, this pioneering Krautrock act is finally set to make its Montreal Jazz debut. It's about time -- this German group clearly ranks as one of the more important electronic-music acts in rock 'n' roll history. Forget what you think you know about "New Age" music (the genre that Tangerine Dream is often associated with) and give this show a try.
Fishbone (July 1): As long as Angelo Moore is leading the charge, this legendary L.A. band will always be worth seeing in concert. Festival organizers describe Fishbone as "a cross between Led Zeppelin and Sly Stone - or Rush and George Clinton, if you prefer." That works for us.
Miles Smiles (July 2): A sensational band will pay tribute to the late, great Miles Davis. The Miles Smiles collective features trumpeter Wallace Roney, saxophonist Bill Evans, Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, keyboardist Joey DeFrancesco, guitarist Larry Coryell and drummer Omar Hakim.
Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier (July 3): She's a terrific jazz singer and a member of the trio Tillery with Gretchen Parlato and Becca Stevens. He's an incredibly gifted jazz bassist, best known for his work with pianist Brad Mehldau. The two are married and, we thoroughly trust, will make beautiful music together in Montreal.
Lyrics Born (July 4): The San Francisco Bay Area rapper is one of the best live acts in the hip-hop game. He's got flow for days and is an absolute buzzsaw on the microphone. He's best known for the party anthem "Callin' Out," but his songbook contains tons of good tunes.
Liza Minnelli (July 5): The global superstar is a quadruple threat -- having made a mark in music, TV, film and Broadway. Her trophy case contains four Tony Awards, an Oscar, a special "Legends" Grammy, two Golden Globes and an Emmy.
Misja Fitzgerald Michel (July 6-7): The young jazz guitarist, who studied under six-string master Jim Hall, is set to play a two-night stand at the fest. He'll draw from his most recent album, "Time of No Reply," as he pays tribute to Nick Drake during these shows.
Chromeo (July 7): The festival comes to a close in high style, with a free public performance by this incredibly popular electrofunk duo. Chromeo hails from Montreal, so this will actually be a homecoming show -- and, it's safe to say, it will be quit the closing-night party.