December 3, 2015 | by Evelyn Reid - Montreal features a lot of festivals. Pick a month, a week, or even a day at random and what have you got? A FESTIVAL. I don't bother counting them anymore.
But every year without fail, there's one that gets people talking, bridging generational gaps in a way most music fests simply can't with an all-ages cross-section of folks spread out on festival grounds, a canopy of two million faces taking in one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. In 2016, the Montreal Jazz Festival runs June 29 to July 9, 2016 and promises to feature hundreds of shows, most of which are free.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Melody Gardot
Jersey-born, Grammy nominated songstress Melody Gardot isn't just a leading musical talent, she has a way with metaphor, once upon a time comparing music to, of all things, a noxious gas:
"... music feels like a fart. It's like a bodily function. You feel it coming and you have to let it out, because if you don't, there's going to be a problem. You just have to kind of find a space, and pray to God that it doesn't stink."
Let it out, she does, lacing off-the-charts charisma with perfect pitch and a soulful something that's been drawing in fans of all persuasions, including folks who aren't necessarily taken by jazz, with Nina Simone comparisons still sticking, eight years into her studio album debut "Worrisome Heart" from back in 2008. Not that Gardot sounds like the icon. But she feels like her, oozing Simone's no-nonsense I've-seen-it-all vibe with a side of can-we-cut-the-crap-already.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Lauryn Hill
The Montreal Jazz Festival hasn't seen Lauryn Hill on its roster in 14 years. Then again, the R'n'B icon whose career took off as part of The Fugees in the '90s has admittedly been hard to pin down ever since she shied from public view circa 2000, with reports claiming the trappings of fame, such as having to primp and dress to the nines just to run an errand, came to be too much.
See Also: Montreal's Hottest Jazz Clubs
Not that Ms. Hill has been completely out of commission. Tax evasion controversies and accusations of erratic behavior aside, her latest projects include a six-song contribution Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone, which also featured covers by Mary J, Blige, Usher and Gregory Porter. And Jazz Fest attendees will most likely get an earful of Hill's Acoustic 'Small Axe' Tour, a series of intimate performances that kicked off in D.C. in February 2015.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Gregory Porter
I bet you a batch of my homemade chocolate truffles that Gregory Porter, the gent who won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for his last full-lengther, 2013's ''Liquid Spirit,'' is on the verge of releasing a new studio album, probably just in time for his Montreal Jazz Festival run if not earlier.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher's solo project picked up where Oasis left off, two albums into fairly solid critical acclaim under the moniker Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. No reinventions of the wheel by any stretch, but good tracks all around, rhythmic gems safely entrenched in the annals of mainstream pop rock.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Chick Corea
It doesn't get much better than multiple Grammy award-winning jazz and fusion pianist Chick Corea. Catch him performing along with fellow Grammy winners Christian McBride on bass and Brian Blade on drums, both of whom collaborated with Corea on Trilogy, which went on to win the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Wynton Marsalis
Fascinating man, Wynton Marsalis. His ability to attract both adulation and scorn from critics is a skill in itself.
"Jazz critic and syndicated columnist Stanley Crouch, as quoted in a 2003 The Atlantic piece on the subject of Marsalis, also has a theory, "I think a lot of the criticism of Wynton's music is based upon a hostility toward him.
Marsalis, any way the critics look at him, is superior to them. He's a greater musician than any of them are writers. He's a good-looking guy. He has access to and has had access to a far higher quality of female than any of them could ever imagine. He doesn't look up to them, and that's a problem." Burn.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Peter Bjorn and John
Stockholm's indie pop rock trio Peter Bjorn and John returns to the recording fold with their first album since the 2011 release of Gimme Some. Coming out June 10, 2016 and entitled Breakin' Point, catch the trio's latest tunes live at the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Peter Bjorn and John perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival on July 8, 2016 at Club Soda. Buy tickets.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Jubilation Gospel Choir
Montreal's Jubilation Gospel Choir is the city's best in show, no stranger to the Montreal Jazz Festival having closed the iconic fest last year with a standing ovation.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Brian Wilson
Fans of The Beach Boys brace for a partial band reunion at the 2016 edition of the Montreal Jazz Fest, with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin joining Brian Wilson to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, the band's 11th studio album which Wilson incidentally wrote, composed, arranged and produced in its near entirety, this, in collaboration with lyricist Tony Asher. Some say Pet Sounds is the first rock concept album in music history.
Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 Lineup: Kool & the Gang
Iconic R&B funksters Kool & the Gang are due in town on July 4, 2016, a choice Montreal Jazz Festival 2016 gig scheduled at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.