Montreal Jazz Festival Photos
How Did the Montreal Jazz Festival Get So Big? Hint: It's Not From Jazz
So how did the Jazz Fest get so big? It's not like MTV and top 40 radio stations play Miles Davis on rotation.
One theory is that the programming team's loose definition of “jazz” -as evidenced by the preponderance of Montreal Jazz Fest performers who don't play actual jazz- is the key to its popularity. By the same token, what is jazz? That question alone has been a major point of contention for purists who've incidentally been arguing over what constitutes jazz for decades.
Opening the field to booking chart-topping acts and well-known household names -artists like Feist, Paul Simon, Rufus Wainright and Seal, among others- appeals to a far larger audience than a program lineup reflecting a strict adherence to jazz standards ever could.
But another reason could ultimately end the debate on why Fest organizers can confidently claim that up to two million people attend the annual ten-day summer festival. The sheer number of free shows and outdoor activities offered to the public -we're talking hundreds of free concerts every year- is explanation enough.
It's not exactly rocket science that freebies bring in the masses. And the festival hub is situated smack in the middle of downtown, right on Ste. Catherine Street, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares. All elements considered, I'd be worried if the Jazz Fest attracted anything less than two million people.
Never seen the fest up close? See for yourself what goes down when the fest is in full swing.