Montréal, Monday, July 9, 2007 — Once again, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal outdid itself with its 28th edition, a veritable crossroads for jazz and its related musics, where the cultures of the world were opened to the most passionate of music fans. With a richer and more diversified program than ever anfd the huge success of MMMIS and the new Montreal Guitar Show, the Festival offered the best and most comprehensive musical environment available in one self-contained event: a program of 658 performances featuring 372 free shows, 189 indoor shows and 97 more in the jazz clubs of Nuits de Montréal in addition to the the showcase of 100 brands, 75 luthiers and dozens of free activities and workshops created as part of the MMMIS. The Festival program offered a veritable musical world tour, both in its indoor venues and on its outdoor stages, from Afrobeat to Brazilian to Arab, from morna to klezmer, from New Orleans to the finest in French jazz.
Musical ambassadors from close to 30 countries enlivened our stages, and an impressive number of tourists dove into our jazz ocean —a global diversity represented in the most encouraging terms, given the Festival set a new record, exceeding $5.5 million in ticket sales for the first time! The increased on-site sales of beer, souvenirs, CDs and travel packages, confirm a greater global attendance of the Festival. The public’s support also helped diminish the projected operation deficit to less than 1.5% of the Festival’s budget, an event which should not repeat itself once the new federal program is instated to help fund festivals.
Major headliners, living legends, new discoveries and exclusives filled out a roster of some 200 indoor concerts in 15 diverse and high-quality series. In the finest Festival tradition, fans were treated to unforgettable performances from the likes of Harry Connick, Jr., Angélique Kidjo and Bob Dylan — respective recipients of the Prix Ella‑Fitzgerald, Prix Antonio Carlos Jobim and the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award — as well as concerts from François Bourassa (Prix Oscar Peterson 2007) and 2007 Prix Miles-Davis recipient and guitarist Mike Stern, who shared hosting duties of the Invitation series with Richard Bona.
Likewise, fans will never forget performances by Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Joshua Redman and their group, the incredible Manu Chao who, with his Radio Bemba Sound System, conquered parc Jean‑Drapeau, drawing an incredible 23,153 fans, Béla Fleck and his astonishing Flecktones, Kurt Elling, Sophie Milman, Russell Malone and Meshell Ndegeocello, and, in an entirely different register, Van Morrison — whose concert sold out in 10 minutes, a Festival record — Sean Lennon, Cesaria Evora, Ojos de Brujo, Zachary Richard and Francis Cabrel… the Festival also presented North American exclusives from Skye, Erik Truffaz, Anne Ducros and Coco Zhao. And let us not forget our prestigious guests from the ECM label, including Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, Anouar Brahem, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Tord Gustavsen, Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin and Stefano Bollani; Femi Kuti and Afrodizz and Antibalas and all those who helped us mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the immortal Fela Kuti. However, the spotlight and headlines were quite literally stolen by The Spaghetti Western Orchestra and their astonishing recreation of the soundtracks of the immortal Ennio Morricone (a North American premiere).
Once again, the Festival reserved a special place for homegrown artists, saving its grand finale concert for a double bill of local leading lights: Oliver Jones, and I Musici accompanying the Susie Arioli Band—which was presented by the Festival’s president with a gold album of the DVD she recorded at the Spectrum last year— and the opening act was none other than Félix Stüssi & Give me Five, winner of the General Motors Grand Jazz Award, granted for the 25th time by the Festival, (while Marianne Trudel took home the Radio-Canada Prix Étoiles Galaxie for her piece Sur la route). Our other local music ambassadors did us proud in the prestigious concerts of the Jazz d’ici series, including the best Québécois musicians in 40 ans de Coltrane and Spectrum, not to mention Vic Vogel and his guests Martin Deschamps, Bruno Pelletier and Michel Pagliaro, with opening act, Bob Harrisson in Place des Arts, Jordan Officer, who shared the intimacy of the Savoy with Kelly Joe Phelps, Garth Hudson and Wayne Krantz, Florence K who shared the TNM series with Holly Cole, Dawn Tyler Watson and Paul Deslauriers in the Voix du monde series, or the brilliant double bill featuring Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes, as well as the young Nikki Yanofsky, star of the new En primeur series.
With no fewer than three free outdoor megaconcerts presented on the General Motors Stage, the Festival’s main outdoor venues — with the cooperation and blessings of the weather gods, who always turned the summer rains off just before showtime — added to the magic and above all to the musical diversity of the outdoor program at this very special 28th edition. The festivities were kicked off with the colourful and rhythmic Brazilian concert of Carlinhos Brown and his group, which took place miraculously, even with his original instruments and costumes held up in Chicago! Move on to the mid-Festival blowout, delivered by Seun Kuti & Egypt” 80: An Afrobeat Evening in Tribute to Fela Kuti, featuring 18 musicians and dancers, in the Festival centrepiece known as the Grand Événement General Motors — which was particularly flamboyant this year with its impressive staging, new giant screens and even fireworks! Not to mention the remarkable Alcan Closing Party, a memorable Arabic Evening with Rachid Taha and his special guests Lynda Thalie and Yann Perreau.
Love at first sight — 658 times over!
On top of being more than satisified by the Festival performances of Bob Dylan, Manu Chao, Zachary Richard and Francis Cabrel, founder and president of the Festival, Alain Simard particularly enjoyed The Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Richard Bona, Ojos de Brujos, Dan Thouin, the guitarist Jordan Officer and Susie Arioli as well as Oliver Jones. He was also impressed by the sons of Lennon, Brubeck and Coltrane, Florence K, the daughter of Nathalie Choquette, as well as Mick’s brother, Chris Jagger. On the outdoor stages, he serendipitously discovered Intakto, Le Sacre du Tympan and... Lulu Hughes!
André Ménard, co-founder and artistic director of the Festival, keeps with him Mike Stern’s unrelenting enthusiasm show after show, the refreshing and contagious humor of the Puppini Sisters, Wynton Marsalis’ undeniable talent, both as a musician and maestro, Roberto Fonseca’s stellar performance, David Torn’s stunning sound and GirlTalk’s calculated madness—a high point of the Festival! What more? Elsiane, Manu Chao, Van, Bob, Pink Martini, Miss K... and hooray for The Spaghetti Western Orchestra!
Vice-President of Programming Laurent Saulnier was especially taken by Manu Chao, No Name Jazz Sextet, Skye, Puppini Sisters, Patrick Watson, Seun Kuti, Soulive, Le Sacre du Tympan, Esperanza Spalding, Erik Truffaz Quartet avec Ed Harcourt, God Made Me Funky, Robert Glasper Trio, Afrodizz, Girl Talk, Oxmo Puccino & The Jazzbastards and Susie Arioli with I Musici.
Among Programming Co-ordinator Caroline Johnson’s favourites were all the concerts of the Invitation series hosted by Richard Bona—particularly Musical Dialogues and the special concert with Gérald TOTO and LOKUA Kanza—as well as the performances of Toumani Diabaté, Andy Palacio, Félix Stüssi & Give me Five, Brandi Disterheft, The Budos Band, Enzo Avitabile, Angélique Kidjo, Roberto Fonseca, Robert Glasper Trio, Yaron Herman, Deweare, Mahmoud Ahmed, Jean‑Pierre Zanella (40 ans de Coltrane) and the king of Afrobeat, Seun Kuti.
Massive international exposure
The 28th edition experienced an exceptional wave of media exposure, welcoming 133 media outlets and 162 journalists from outside Québec, for a total of almost 400 accredited journalists. The world’s media booked their tickets for the Festival, featuring, among others, Germany (Radio Deutsche Welle), Australia (Artsound FM 92.7), Belgium (Le Soir), Brazil (TVErs / Radio Cultura), Bulgaria (Bulgarian National Radio), Canada (CTV, National Post, The Globe and Mail, CBC’s The Nature of Things, Toronto Star, Reuters), Spain (Photoaisa), the United States (People Magazine, Vanity Fair, Downbeat, the Washington Times, New York Magazine), France (La Croix, Journal du Dimanche, Libération, L’Humanité, Le Monde, La Dépêche du Midi, Radio France Internationale), India (The Hindu), Ireland (Alternative Ulster Magazine), Italy (Corriere della Sera, RAI International, Radio Popolare), Lebanon (Prestige), Mexico (Canal Once, Horizonte), the Netherlands (Art Expressions Publications), Pakistan (Pakistan Observer, Daily Insaf), the United Kingdom (BBC World Services, JazzWise, New Statesman Magazine), Russia (Vedomosti, Play Magazine) and Switzerland (Basler Zeitung). And to top it all off, the Festival welcomed a delegation of 60 members of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) who were in town especially for the event.
The international profile of the Festival will further be enhanced by six TV broadcasts of our concerts (five of them indoor shows), including the opening gala starring Wynton Marsalis presenting Congo Square with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis & Yacub Addy and Odadaa! (on Bravo! and also ARTV), Kurt Elling Quartet and special guests (on Bravo!), Sophie Milman and her musicians (on Bravo!) and Randy Bachman (on Bravo! and ARTV), Harry Connick, Jr.’s My New Orleans Tour, (for DVD), as well as the Arabic Evening with Rachid Taha and his special guests—Alcan Closing Party—(on Bravo! and TV5), as well as the many concerts broadcast on EspaceMusique and CBC Radio 2.
As for tourism, the Festival persisted in its developmental, marketing and promotional efforts abroad, attracting an even greater number of tourists and day-trippers, especially in town for the Festival, who, as we know, inject more than 100 million dollars in new monies into our economy every year. The Festival also sold more packages than the year before, 52% of which were sold to American tourists.
After the undeniable success of its 28th edition, the festival charges boldly ahead towards its 30th anniversary in 2009, with an enthusiasm amplified by the city of Montreal’s Special Planning Program (SPP), befittingly designed to ensure the perpetuity of public spaces that will accommodate the great stature the city’s festivals and harmonious development of the Quartier des spectacles.
Festival organizers offer their warmest thanks to all artists present at this 28th edition, whose creativity and enthusiasm create the unique ambience for which the event and the city itself are internationally renowned. The Festival also thanks its private and public partners for their indispensable support, as well as all our team members for the incredible effort they poured into their work! As for the public, attending and enjoying the Festival in ever greater numbers, we hope they enjoyed these swingin” memories and invite them to mark their calendars for next year’s summer celebration—and, in the meantime, stay connected to the best the jazz world has to offer via the 8th edition of the Jazz All-Year Round series, which promises yet another round of unforgettable encounters and musical memories, featuring artists such as Nikki Yanofsky, Marcel Khalifé, John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension, Jesse Cook and Colin James Little Big Band Christmas.
Make it a date: the 29th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, June 26 to July 6, 2008!