Monday, July 8, 2013

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal wraps up its 34th edition

After all the dark clouds that have converged on Montreal recently, it was time for our city to hoist high its colours and reclaim its legendary joie de vivre! And without a sliver of doubt, that’s exactly what happened over the past 10 days and nights, thanks to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan. Montreal once again showcased all of its characteristic splendour for the entire world, revealing its elemental nature: a welcoming, friendly city with an original, lively persona, where all live and share in harmony. Yes, Montreal once again had Planet Jazz talking about its finest, noblest qualities: its unique party spirit, its warmth and humanity, cultural curiosity and open mind, heart and soul.

As a result, our city once again laid claim to its enviable position as the capital of peaceful, celebratory large-scale public gatherings, established 34 years ago by its renowned Jazz Festival, this massive, refreshing international breeding ground of musical genres and artists ranking among the most talented in the world. We witnessed a dazzling variety of concerts, from jazz to hip-hop, blues to country, intimate to wide-screen, performed by new discoveries and legends alike, all under the umbrella of a common denominator: quality. Let us offer a particular tip of the hat to the outdoor program: it was virtually impossible to stroll the site without happening upon some utterly surprising concert, leading us to forget our original destination in the face of so much talent at every stop! In short, we experienced a magical and enchanting 34th edition, which injected a healthy dose of optimism back into Montreal!

Although the Festival did not break box office records this year, notably due to the cancellation of the Aretha Franklin concert, it nonetheless attained the box-office targets established in order to balance its budget. The Festival also registered on-site sales equivalent to those of last year, and this, despite the appearance of a number of new restaurants and terrasses bordering its site. Festival organizers are therefore happy to announce that the non-profit organization will once again finish with an operating budget without a deficit for the 2013 edition. We also registered a 33% increase in revenue generated by the sale of tourist packages and an equivalent increase in participation in such tourist activities as the Croisière Jazz, guided foot tours and culinary strolls. A number of major downtown hotels also reported an approximately 30% increase in American visitors for the Festival period in comparison with last year’s event.

A festival that does a world of good

But let us remember that the impact of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is not confined to box office or on-site sales. We’re well aware that the Festival is a magnet drawing tourists to Montreal and that it contributes up to 64 million dollars annually to the GDP, injecting over $15 into the economy for every dollar it receives in subsidies and returning almost 20 million dollars to state coffers in the form of tax revenue (for Quebec and Canada). But there’s more!

Some may be less aware of the collateral benefits and indirect spinoffs generated by the event, whose quality and scale drew a tidal wave of positive reactions and ecstatic press coverage both abroad and at home, which engenders effects at many different levels. For example, it works as an unquestionable agent of social cohesion for Montrealers—anglophones, allophones and francophones—whether they hail from Westmount or Saint-Henri, Outremont or Montreal North, Pointe-Saint-Charles, Pointe-aux-Trembles or Pointe-Claire, Laval, Terrebonne, Longueuil or Saint-Bruno. It gathers them all and allows them to meet tourists from everywhere, all ages and all cultures, assembled in an atmosphere of harmony and joy. A little like Expo 67, it also means that, every year, some 1500 students earn their first work experience and are plunged into an extraordinary human experience. Beyond expanding the musical horizons of the greater public, the Festival also generates spinoffs for Montreal’s exciting music scene, now one of the most important in North America, a creative hub and home for young artists. It is a Festival that instills Montreal with its cachet, contributing to its enhanced global stature and drawing in the sea of visitors a plethora of creators, visionaries, managers and entrepreneurs motivated by the dynamism and creativity of this vibrant city.

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is proud to contribute to Montreal’s image as a cultural, economic, tourism and intellectual capital, which scored a ranking in the world’s Top 10 best cities to visit in Lonely Planet and was named the “Cultural Capital of Canada” in British publication Monocle. A wonderful musical gathering and celebration, the Festival is among the principal actors making our city attractive. And with its major free outdoor program, it enriches our cultural life, giving us all so much to see, hear and love, and thereby improving our very lives.

A musical gold mine

Bursting with jazz as well as every other musical style extant, the Festival offered its visitors an equally rich and eclectic program in an ideal ambience, every day and every night. Our three massive free outdoor events were the ultimate proof: assembling some 100,000 fans on the Place des Festivals, these three concerts and their astonishing power to unite people also stood out for their diversity. The incredible voice and magnetic folk-indie rock of national treasure Feist in the TD Grand Opening Event, the dance-mad music of French spinmaster Wax Tailor—what a discovery for Montreal!—in the mid-Festival Special Event, and the irresistibly funky rhythms of Malian duo Amadou & Mariam (the deserving recipients of our 2013 Antonio Carlos Jobim Award), in the Rio Tinto Alcan Special Closing Event all hit home runs, making the Place des Festivals sing with joy!

Alongside those major events, the outdoor program also unveiled treasures. Let us simply name the astonishing performance by The Barr Brothers, the thrilling old-school R&B of Nick Waterhouse, the deep Indian Ocean blues of Christine Salem, and the amazing Carmen Souza! And let’s not forget another gift from the Festival to its fans, a last minute surprise concert by The Cat Empire who leapt back into the fray after two brilliant shows in Métropolis, lighting up the Place des Festivals, not once but twice!

Indoors, Fest fans enjoyed an innumerable array of gems showcasing talent and creativity. There were some of Planet Jazz’s most high-profile current artists—Vijay Iyer and his incredible three-show run, Ravi Coltrane, Gregory Porter, Joshua Redman and Youn Sun Nah—living legends including Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis and Oliver Jones, as well as other delights from every conceivable genre: Caravan Palace in fine form, electrifying the crowd, Lyle Lovett, who transported fans to an alt-country Eden, Chris Isaak who delighted the crowd with his renowned talent and charisma, Mother Mother, taking over the indie-rock scene, and the magisterial Woodkid and his fab cinematographic pop. Among the panoply of veteran musicians, six artists or groups merited this year’s Festival honours. Aside from Amadou & Mariam, star bassist Alain Caron received the Oscar Peterson Award, velvet-voiced singer Holly Cole took home the Ella Fitzgerald Award and the immense Charles Lloyd was handed the prestigious Miles Davis Award. Among rising jazzmen, the Hutchinson Andrew Trio and Shirantha Beddage were respectively presented with the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award. And still with the younger generation, we witnessed a collection of young talents come to the fore in the 8th edition of the Blues Camp, as illustrated by the quality of the graduating class! Meanwhile, the Bruce Lundvall Award, given to a person in the media or music industry who has contributed to the development of jazz, went to Tommy LiPuma, the American producer responsible for albums by George Benson (who presented him with the award), Diana Krall and Paul McCartney.

Programming favourites chosen by our team

André Ménard, co-founder and artistic director of the Festival, managed to capture the essence of his favourites in a handful of well-chosen words: the grace of Boz Scaggs; the talent and musical clarity of Gwilym Simcock; the fire of Trombone Shorty; the radiance of Holly Cole, the celebratory Cajun roots of the Lost Bayou Ramblers; the extraterrestrial quality of Youn Sun Nah; the brilliance of Phronesis; and Wax Tailor, mission accomplished!

Laurent Saulnier, vice-president of programming and production, first salutes our Montreal musicians: Champion, for a peerless celebration of life itself; Alexandra Stréliski, for gentleness, melody and ethereal skill; The Barr Brothers, who triumphed on the Place des Festivals; Muse Hill—still the Barr Brothers, but in a very different jazz register, just as personal and daring; Jérôme Beaulieu, the best possible example of youth in love with jazz! Otherwise, he was also impressed by Woodkid’s music, projections, lighting—brilliant! Chassol, who reinvented the fusion of imagery, sound and music. Impressive. The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra: a jazz ensemble playing a Sunday evening on the Place des Festivals, offering Gershwin with a tremendous sensibility: unique to Montreal! Chrysta Bell, David Lynch’s muse, a wonderful singer with astonishing musical flair, but very Lynchian indeed! Vieux Farka Touré: probably the finest concert he’s ever played in Montreal. A true virtuoso who also knows how to move us. Chris Isaak/Lyle Lovett: simply put, classics and sheer happiness! Belle & Sebastian, pure pop sophistication, playful and fun! Laurent de Wilde: a jazz trio in all its splendour, with genuine personality!

Caroline Johnson, director of programming, was inspired by the Woodkid show in Métropolis, “for his splendid visuals, with lighting and projections that were simply amazing! Métropolis was IN ECSTASY!” Likewise Champion, who delivered a “very personal show and took Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier to heaven: nothing like this had ever been seen before in the venue!” She also appreciated “the evening of drummers on July 1 with Phronesis, The Bad Plus and Harold López-Nussa: the three drummers I saw that evening just floored me!” Sticking with drums, she tips her hat to Guy Nadon, celebrating his 30th appearance at the Festival. Three concerts in L’Astral also dazzled her: the duo of Michel Donato and Pierre Tanguay—“pure charm and charisma!” Nicolas Repac—“such beauty… visually amazing!”—and Titi Robin — “we’ll definitely see him again. Magical!” On the outdoor site, she loved Misses Satchmo, “who charmed us all” and The Cat Empire and Fanfare Ciocarlia “who set fire to the Place des Festivals.” Finally, bravo to The Barr Brothers, The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer and Amadou & Mariam!

The Festival: just as popular online!

First, we remind you that our web team refined the web interface in order to make it more user-friendly. The MontrealJazzFest.TV section was bolstered by over 150 video clips, offering exclusive interviews and concert excerpts, along with a new addition: the “#SofaConfessions” video clips presented by Bell and created by Urbania allowing Fest fans to ask artists questions via Facebook and Twitter. As a result, our site was more popular than ever, with 228,734 unique visitors and 1,598,621 page views, a 10% increase over 2012!

Our free mobile application was even more popular this year, thanks to the new version for Android created with Bell, now available alongside the IOS version. It was ranked in the Top 10 in the App Store in the music category and has now been installed on over 63,000 devices! In social media, the Festival Facebook page drew a record number of people, surpassing 1,400,000 visits! There was also a major increase in “Likes”, rising from 55,000 to over 78,000. The return of the J’aime le Festival de Jazz contest, with prizes totaling $40,000, was a big help, along with the fans who shared comments by the tens of thousands. The new photo contest, Zoom in on the Jazz Fest, in collaboration with Lozeau, also piqued the curiosity of thousands of internauts with its wonderful prizes: two Canon ensembles with a $7000 total value. Add the popularity of the Festival on Twitter, with almost 35,000 subscribers and a keyword, “#FIJM”, that shared Fest fans’ tweets with millions of subscribers.

And the Festival’s visibility on social networks benefited from a huge boost when the co-founder and head of content for the Songza site—2012 App Store Best—offered to share our reading list… With thousands of listens less than 2 days after it went online, it was a smash hit!

The Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan: the heart of the action

Once again, the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan was a hive of effervescent activity! Four years after its inauguration, it confirmed its importance as the nerve center of the Festival. The pressroom was understandably popular, but so were an array of other musical and cultural offerings… L’Astral featured three of its very own concert series every evening: two “courses” of jazz in the TD Jazz d’ici La Presse+ and Le Clubseries, along with the Open House series, conceived especially for party animals and nighthawks. The Bistro Le Balmoral was also a sensation, with its delicious menu and its Élixirs terrasse, of course, but also for the music: along with presenting theMusique au Balmoral series, the bistro offered live broadcasts of most of the evening shows from the TD Stage, allowing Fest fans to blend dinner and jazz. No doubt about it: the Maison was perfectly in tune with Festival fans—just think of the crowds that flocked through its doors every night!

But the end of this 34th edition of the Festival is just the beginning of a new year of music! Indeed, while Montreal’s rich musical history never ceases to grow—hello, 35th anniversary of the Festival!—the Bell Exhibition of the Legends of the Festival opens its doors to jazz aficionados free of charge, showcasing the luminous figures who have left their mark on the Festival. The Médiathèque Jazz/La Presse+ remains a gold mine of archives, recordings and audiovisual treasures, open to all. And music fans won’t have long to wait for the thrill of exceptional new concerts, because the Jazz All-Year Round series is back starting tomorrow with a concert starring -M-!

Art all year long in the Galerie Lounge TD

During the Festival, the Galerie Lounge invited visitors to discover a panoply of wonderful artworks, beginning with the piece Bleu Blanc Rouge, by Serge Lemoyne, taken from his “bleu-blanc-rouge” period paying colourful tribute to the Montreal Canadiens. The Galerie showcased many other pieces created by artists from all spheres, sharing jazz as their common passion, including Crossroads, an original work inspired by the official poster, produced by Yves Archambault, the Festival’s artist in residence for the past 26 years. The Festival also renewed its collaboration with Diane Dufresne, whose exclusive silkscreen L’Effet papillonregistered an effect as impressive as Les Triplettes de Montréal two years ago. After moving into the Salle d’exposition of the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme in Place des Arts throughout the duration of the Festival, the Galerie Lounge TDnow moves back onto the 2nd floor of the Maison du Festival with an enticing program, opening with an Alfred Pellan exhibition from September 12 to December 1, 2013.

Journalists share their impressions

We must occasionally rely on the words of others to truly understand what we have accomplished. It was therefore immensely gratifying to hear foreign journalists in the pressroom express how impressed they were by the work of the Festival team, and their amazement at how we could stage an event of this magnitude. We particularly salute the team from Canada AM (CTV), who witnessed the pre-assembly of the site and then broadcast live from it.

This year, over 400 accredited journalists, including nearly 200 representatives of 135 media outlets from 16 countries converged on the event, ensuring the Festival had a pronounced international visibility. Here’s a glimpse of the foreign media who covered this 34th edition: from USA, Today Show, WBGO, Wall Street Journal, MTV Iggy, DownBeat Magazine,, Austin Chronicle, Huffington Post, Bloomberg News, Hollywood Reporter, All About Jazz, KKJZ, Under the Radar, Magnet Magazine, Jazz Times, CBS radio, Peter Greenberg, Getty Images; from France, Paris Match, Rolling Stone France, Le Point, Les Inrockuptibles, L’Express, AFP, France 24, France Musique, FIP, Open Jazz, Télérama, Radio Nova, TSF Jazz, Hit West, France Inter, RFI, Jazz Radio, Tsugi Magazine, RTL, Lonely Planet Magazine, Ouest France; from Mexico, OnceTV, STIR Radio, MVS Noticias, Nat Geo Traveler, El Informador; from ItalyCorriere della Sera; from Germany, Jazzthetik, Verlag J. Bauer KG; from the UK, Telegraph Media Group, Michelin Travel Guide, Monocle, Jazzwise, Bass Guitar Magazine, Drummer Magazine, Acoustic Magazine,; from Canada, MSN Travel, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen, Reader’s,, CTV – Canada AM, Toronto Star, Exclaim!, CBC Jazz, Hello! Canada, MacLean’s, Huffington Post Canada; from Peru, Orbita Popular; from Russia, Zvuki.RU; from Bangladesh,; from Australia, Today Show, Herald Sun; from China, Voice of the Straits Radio Sunshine; from Hungary, Népszava ; from Cyprus, Radio Astra ; and from Colombia, El Tiempo.

Thanks to our partners

We can never offer enough thanks to our precious public and private partners, who defray more than half the costs of this event. Without their support, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, now an event of global renown and prestige—this big, beautiful non-profit musical celebration—could not exist in this famous format, offering large-scale urban entertainment free of charge and generating impressive tourism spinoffs. We thank the Gouvernement du Québec—Tourisme Québec, Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine, ministère de la Culture et des Communications, as well as the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC)—, the Government of Canada— Canadian Heritage and Canada Economic Development—as well as the Ville de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal, the Fonds pour la création musicale and the British Council—Made in the UK program for their involvement. In terms of private sector support, we offer our warmest thanks to principal sponsor and official presenter TD as well as Rio Tinto Alcan, co-presenter of the Festival. Thanks also to Bell, Loto-Québec, the Société des Alcools du Québec, HeinekenSiriusXM, complexe Desjardins, Amarula, Astral, Hyatt Regency MontréalMeyer Sound, Naya, Jura, Porto Cabral, Élixirs, Fromages CDA inc., Häagen-DazsGalaxie and Pepsi-Cola. Thanks also to our media partners.

Our team is already hard at work programming our 35th anniversary edition! So we’ll see you then, from Friday, June 27 to Sunday, July 6, 2014!

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