Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wrap-up of the 32nd edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Diversity, originality, quantity and quality

, Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - It’s official: this 32nd edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan, was an utterly unparalleled musical triumph. With 1001 concerts and activities, the world’s largest jazz festival filled the ears-and hearts!-of fans, drawing the admiration and enthusiasm of artists, organizers and journalists from every corner of the planet. Free outdoor mega-events, superb indoor concert programming, shows under the stars, all of it presented on 20 stages and venues, bringing us the very best of jazz and its musical cousins from 3000 artists over 10 days and nights and drawing close to 2 million visitors… We’re speechless! The Festival was the perfect stage for everything the up-and-coming generation has to offer, the ideal arena for veteran artists to test out new material, the scene of triumphant performances by young contemporary virtuosi, and a magnificent showcase for unforgettable and rare visits by many international stars and out-and-out legends.

This 32nd edition closes with a balanced budget and will go into the history books capped by several new records: unprecedented coverage by international media-including France 2, Télé-Matin, RFI (France), The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone (U.S.), BBC, Downbeat Magazine (U.K.), La Tempestad (Mexico) and the Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper (Japan); the best indoor show occupancy rate with more than 85%; record guitar sales during the 5th Montreal Guitar Show; the greatest ever box office receipts for our American cousins’ national holiday weekend; and, finally, a new sales record for hotel and lodging packages (ensuring that most of Montreal’s downtown hotels were lighting up their “No Vacancy” signs), all of it resulting in thrilled Festival fans, delighted musicians and weather that was virtually perfect for the entire 10-day run.

And then there was… music!

A breathtaking indoor concert program

Once again this year, diversity, originality, quantity and quality were the watchwords guiding this Festival. We were presented with an infinite array of opportunities to revel in the talents of icons, legends and newcomers from every outpost of Planet Jazz. Among the exalting concerts presented this year, let’s start with the North American premiere of the sensational Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats-GRUBB, to true devotees-who packed their venue so often that organizers had to add two additional shows by popular demand. Led by Serge Denoncourt, these 24 Serbian teens, fusing a singular vision of hip hop with millennial and 21st century Roma traditions, delivered a magical series of performances brimming with passion. The Festival is extremely proud to have contributed to the growth of this extraordinary humanitarian adventure, and to have given these young people the opportunity to experience their first moment of glory.

Even before the Festival officially opened, fans of this 32nd edition were blown away by major-league stars making unprecedented Festival visits: surprise concerts by Prince, who got the party started with two late-night soirées that rolled through nearly four hours of unbridled, unparalleled funkitude apiece and Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, in a pre-opening concert, who magnificently preceded the official Festival kick-off delivered by flamenco master Paco de Lucía, returning after a 10-year absence to offer us a staggering opening concert in a jam-packed Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. And speaking of major names, this edition was the equal of any previous one: Dave Brubeck, Return to Forever IV, Sade who, in her first Festival visit, raised the roof of the Bell Centre (opening act: John Legend), Diana Krall, whose exceptional trio of solo concerts were sold out months in advance, Peter Frampton, Tony Bennett, America (to name but a few), who paved the way for Daniel Lanois and Black Dub, The Roots, as well as the headliners of a superb Invitation series: Marc Ribot, Dave Holland and Anouar Brahem. And let’s not forget our own homegrown artists-Ron Sexsmith, Oliver Jones, Marianne Trudel, Colin James, François Bourassa, Jean‑Pierre Zanella…-as well as the superlative Carlos Saura retrospective presented in the Cinémathèque québécoise.

Each year, famous Festival Awards highlight the exceptional contributions of musicians from here and abroad. Thus Robert Plant received the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award, singer Sade the Ella Fitzgerald Award, bass legend Stanley Clarke the Miles Davis Award, saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella the Oscar Peterson Award, and the Bruce Lundvall Award was presented to George Wein, the “Father” of all jazz festivals. Also, the Montreal Guitar Show Tribute Award, created in 2009 to highlight the outstanding contribution of the leading international guitarists, chose to honour flamenco guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucía. Finally, Alexandre Côté Quintet received the TD Grand Jazz Award, and the Galaxie Rising Star Award was given to John Roney for his piece Choices. The jury also attributed a special mention to Ernesto Cervini Quartet to highlight the interest for this young Toronto ensemble.

The Festival in the great outdoors

Festival fans and tourists discovered a site that was more magnificent than ever, right in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, featuring the new Promenade des Artistes, all of it despite the construction and redevelopment of Ste. Catherine St. The tone was set from the very first evening of the Festival: despite overcast skies and the threat of rain, a wildly enthusiastic crowd turned out for the Rio Tinto Alcan Opening Concert on the TD stage on the Place des Festivals. Ambience, groove, soul, and not a drop of rain greeted the arrival of the young French sensation Ben l’Oncle Soul, who proved without a shadow of a doubt that he knows how to get a crowd dancing! A few nights later, it seemed we might have to unite in a sun-dance to chase away the rainclouds gathering over the immense electro-jazz happening known as Misteur Valaire: their choreography, stage costumes, set design, projections, special guests, dancers, pyrotechnics, and electrifying performance will long be remembered. Finally, the festivities closed in high style with the legendary B-52s, who levitated the Festival’s main stage and electrified a madly dancing crowd-and what a crowd!-with their immortal hits during the TD Grand Closing Event in collaboration with XM Canada. And let us underline the wonderful project À mon école, je garde le rythme presented by Projet Persévérance Scolaire Samajam, an initiative supported by the Festival in tandem with Rio Tinto Alcan, offering free percussion classes to elementary school students in Montreal’s most underprivileged neighbourhoods.

The Galerie du Festival in the heart of Place des Arts

This year, the Galerie du Festival set up quarters in a new venue: the Salle d’exposition in Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, Place des Arts, which proved highly popular. Fans enjoyed a piece created especially for this 32nd edition of the Festival by Québécoise diva Diane Dufresne, Les triplettes de Montréal-racking up spectacular sales of the silkscreen version!-alongside a wealth of artworks by artists from all genres with a shared passion for jazz, including the official 2011 poster, entitled L’île utopique and created by Yves Archambault, our artist in residence for close to 25 years.

Unprecedented, massive growth on social networks

Social networks welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors, racking up close to 5 millions visits! This year witnessed a veritable online explosion, with fans flocking to share their Festival faves, whether on Twitter, where fans used keyword #jazzmtl several times every minute, or on Facebook, where the Festival now counts 25,000 devotees. And they almost wore out the “Like” button for the album “The 2011 edition, day-by-day” and its 200 photos.

Our website, MontrealJazzFest.com, was an exceedingly popular destination for fans looking to create personalized schedules, while MontrealJazzFest.TV showcased some 2000 magnificent snapshots taken by official Festival photographers. Video excerpts of concerts, presented by Bell, racked up tens of thousands of viewings, and since the Festival opened, our house team has recorded more than 150 concert clips and artist interviews.

Finally, the Festival’s mobile application for iPhones and BlackBerrys-this year offering new geolocation functions, as well as interactive maps offering schedules for public transit to Festival, presented in partnership with the STM-also presented by Bell, enjoyed twice as many downloads this year, for a grand total of more than 35,000 users.

Our programmers’ favourites

Alain Simard, president-founder of the Festival, was thrilled by Ben l’Oncle Soul, the George Wein 85th Birthday Celebration with the Newport All Stars: Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Lew Tabackin, Howard Alden, Lewis Nash and Peter Washington), the return of legendary landmark group Return to Forever IV with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Jean‑Luc Ponty and Frank Gambale, the muscular blues of Shane Murphy, the irresistibly festive Soul Rebels Brass Band, the divine Diana Krall, whose refined piano was showcased to ultimate effect in three solo concerts, astonishing double bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding and her Chamber Secret Society, the magical guest appearance by Martha Wainwright during the Pink Martini concert, the mad electro-jazz of Misteur Valaire, Champion and his G-Strings-Alive again, amply attested by their two wild performances!-American new-school hip hop revelation Theophilus London, dynamic New York group La Excelencia, the always magnificent Dee Dee Bridgewater and her tribute To Billie with Love: A Celebration of Lady Day, and her daughter China Moses (in quartet with Raphaël Lemonnier), sax virtuoso Grace Kelly (with special guest Phil Woods), Mexican diva Magos Herrera, a newly liberated Susie Arioli in a major outdoor concert, the Blues Camp graduates, who once again proved that the future is in good hands, Jean‑Pierre Zanella and his All Star tribute to Don Alias, featuring the cream of Montreal musicians, French blueswoman and guitar heroine Nina Attal, and soul goddess Sade and her satin voice. He was also hypnotized by Robert Plant’s rendition of The Letter and Prince’s Purple Rain!

André Ménard
, co-founder and artistic director of the Festival, was amazed on a number of musical occasions: by Prince-who wasn’t?-whom he caught in the epochal Friday performance, the immortal Robert Plant, the redoubtable Battle of the Bands with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Artie Shaw Orchestra, flamenco icon Paco de Lucía, young sexagenarians The LeRoys, exquisite duo Brad Mehldau-Joshua Redman, the horns of the Soul Rebels Brass Band, Diana Krall-oh, Diana!-with a sublime solo premiere, k.d. lang and her return to the roots with The Siss Boom Bang, the ferocious Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, New Orleans genius Trombone Shorty, the electrifying Misteur Valaire, Sophie Hunger, who shone in opening sets, piano sensation Tigran Hamasyan, the uplifting rock’n'roll of Israël Proulx, the irresistible Invitation performance by trio Brahem-Couturier-Matinier, exceptional duo Richard Galliano-Gonzalo Rubalcaba, supergroup Nomadic Massive, Nikki Yanofsky, who soared to new heights in an immense concert with the Orchestre Métropolitain, new French jazz star Thomas Enhco, and the eternal America.

Vice-President of Programming & Production
Laurent Saulnier, divided his musical affections equally between Prince, Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats - GRUBB, Robert Plant and The Band of Joy, Jon Day, Nadja, Random Recipe, David Shelley & Bluestone, Eliza Doolittle, Clara Furey, Stéphane Belmondo, Misteur Valaire, Theophilus London, Champion and his G-Strings, Misses Satchmo, Poirier Sound System with Face-T, Boogat, Imposs, Mr. OK and L’XTRMST.ZEN, Parc X Trio, Caroline Planté, Alexandre Côté Quintet, Men Without Hats, Jaga Jazzist, Nomadic Massive, Thomas Enhco, Nikki Yanofsky and China Moses & Raphaël Lemonnier Quartet.

Caroline Johnson
, Programming Director, was utterly enraptured by three evenings presented by Anouar Brahem in the Invitation series: Thimar with Dave Holland and John Surman, Le Voyage de Sahar with François Couturier and Jean‑Louis Matinier and The Astounding Eyes of Rita, but she also loved Sing the Truth! Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright continue the legacies of Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta, Trombone Shorty, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Alejandra Ribera, Fitz and The Tantrums, Lee Fields and The Expressions, Gretchen Parlato, Eliza Doolittle, Tigran Hamasyan’s Arrata Rebirth Quintet, China Moses & Raphaël Lemonnier Quartet, Thomas Enhco Trio, Phronesis, Jean-Pierre Zanella, Alexandre Côté Quintet, Baloji, Hugh Masekela, Paco de Lucía, Ben l’Oncle Soul, Legendary Tigerman, Khaira Arby and her Band and, of course, GRUBB.

Record attendance and coverage by major international media

Journalists from here, there, and everywhere flocked to this remarkable edition, sending the Festival all over the world. Over 400 accredited journalists, including 235 ambassadors of 144 medias from 17 countries, covered the event. Thus, the Festival was talked about in USA (The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, CBS News, 60 Minutes, Offbeat Magazine, Sirius XM, WBGO, NPR’s Latino USA, KKJZ Radio, Huffington Post, Travel Weekly, About.com, Inside New York, All About Jazz, AOL Music, Magnet Magazine, Frommer’s, Spinner, Vibe.com, Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, JazzInk, YRB Magazine, MTV Hive, Examiner.com, Michelin Travel Guide, Berkshire Daily, WUSA9, The Reservations Magazine, Pure Jazz Magazine, WWPV FM, American Forces Radio, N’Digo Magapaper, MHZ Network, Travel and Enjoy Magazine, Guitar Player Magazine, Jazz Times, WDNA 88.9 FM, Arroyo Seco Journal, Voice of America, Moja Radio, Fathom Away we go, Premier Guitar, TONEAudio Magazine, Acoustic Guitar, The Jazz Cat.net, The Couch Session, Bet Centric, The Bluffton Sun, The Bay State Banner, Black and Married With Kids, Jazziz Magazine, Tango Diva, WRCU, WRIU, Soundspike, Jazz Times, Bay State Banner, am New York, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, Morning Journal, Jazzed Magazine, Jazz Variations, WWPV, Jazz Houston, World Guitar, France-USA Media, Jazz FM 91, WFDU, Westchester Guardian Newspaper, Metroland, Eagle Tribune - North of Boston Media Group, Around the World Radio, WFCR Public Radio, WGBH, The Andovers and Cape Ann Eagle Tribune, WCUW 91.3 FM, Atlanta Daily World Newspaper, Jazz Hot, Santa Barbara Independent, Acoustic Guitar), in France (France 2, Télé-Matin, RFI, France Musique, Le Point, Libération, TSF, AFP, La Croix, WorldSound, Rolling Stone France, Télérama Radio, Fip Radio France, Pure Channel, La Guitare.com, Katumka, Jazz News, Guitarist Acoustic Magazine, Radio Graf’Hit), UK (BBC, Downbeat Magazine, Jazzwise Magazine, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer Magazine, Demotix), Mexico (La Tempestad, Milenio Diario, Horizonte, Esquires Latin America, CORTV, Canal 22, MVS Noticias, Rumbo de Mexico), Italy (Corriere della Serra), Germany (Jazzthetik, WSR International, Westfälische Rundschau), Canada (National Post, Globe and Mail, Maclean’s Magazine, Exclaim! Magazine, ChartAttack.com, AOL Canada, Canada Japan Journal, CHUO FM, Jazz Avenue, Magic Radio, World Wide Scene, CIUT.FM, Dawa News), Colombia (El Tiempo), Japan (Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper, TV Asahi), Malaysia (Andy Studio), Morocco (Medi 1 TV), Norway (Jazznyt, NRK - Norwegian Broadcating), Peru (Orbita Popular), Portugal (Lusa), Russia (Zvuki.RU), Sweden (Pandox AB), Switzerland (Canada-Suisse.com) and in Uruguay (Babel FM).

The MGS and the Blues Camp: as popular as ever

This summer, the Montreal Guitar Show celebrated its 5th edition! As popular as ever, the event attracted thousands of six-string fanatics, gathering in the Hyatt Regency Montréal to enjoy the works of 150 luthiers from 13 countries who presented 500 gorgeous guitar creations. Visitors also flocked to a multitude of guitar concerts, many of them free, along with conferences and workshops dedicated to their favourite instrument. The already enviable reputation of the MGS grew by leaps and bounds, extending its geographical reach (with more international luthiers than ever, including representatives from Turkey and Malaysia) as well as its reach into the heart of the “guitar community” (the MGS drew more visitors than ever who has come expressly to purchase an instrument); we are not surprised to learn that the MGS established a new record for guitar sales this year.

In this 6th edition of the Blues Camp, presented by TD, fifty talented teens, aged 13 to 17, reveled in a week-long musical experience most can only dream about. This year, the Camp reached a new maturity, with our loyal crew of teachers, working with us since Day 1, noting a growing level of quality in their students and protégés. A more blues-centred approach headed by new artistic director Vincent Beaulne thrilled our young participants, who annually test themselves and their talents in this unique musical experience, culminating in a memorable concert on the TD mainstage. Finally, we enjoyed an extraordinary surprise this year when the young Roms of GRUBB met the teens of the Blues Camp and even played together!

The Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan: the House is rockin’

The young Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan was once again the nerve centre of the Festival, thanks to its dynamic pressroom, as well as the concerts it offered. Meanwhile, Bistro Le Balmoral-with its increasingly popular menu-welcomed the Musique au Balmoral series, and the popular L’Astral hosted the TD Jazz d’ici La Presse series, Le Club ARTV, as well as the new Open House, a brilliant success that had nighthawks dancing from 11:30 p.m. into the wee hours with crazy DJ sets starring The Power Dam Initiative, Canicule Tropicale with Philippe Noel, Don Pedro and DJ Kobal and S. Mos.

A 100th birthday… and a 100% completed Maison

And the best is yet to come! In the coming months, the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan will be unveiled in all its splendour. First, the Galerie Lounge TD will take up its permanent home with new exhibitions of celebrated artists, including Armand Vaillancourt from August 4 to September 18. Then, we’ll celebrate the 100th birthday of the Blumenthal Building on September 16 with the grand opening of the fully completed Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, showcasing its little museum and the Len Dobbin archives.

Jazz on the airwaves after the Festival

Each year, some of the Festival’s finest moments are captured for TV and radio. This time out, The Dave Brubeck Quartet concert was recorded by XM Canada and will be broadcast on September 5, while the Emilie‑Claire Barlow concert was recorded by Espace musique, the musical side of Radio-Canada, 100,7 FM, and will be broadcast Friday, September 2 at 5:30 p.m. as part of the Stanley Péan program.

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-ministères du Tourisme, des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire, de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine, 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 Consulat général de France à Québec and l’Institut français-Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes 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 Canada, Loto-Québec, the Société des alcools du Québec, Heineken, XM Canada, Complexe Desjardins, Amarula, Hyatt Regency Montréal, Meyer Sound-the people responsible for the exceptional sound quality of the shows, particularly in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier-Naya, Jura, Porto Cabral, Archambault, Fromages CDA, Vital Link, Galaxie, Pepsi-Cola, UQAM, STM and Solotech. Thanks also to our media partners and the entire Festival team, who delivered an extraordinary effort this year, prompting many observers to comment on what they saw as an exceptionally well-organized Festival.

It’s a rendez-vous for the 33rd edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which will be held from Thursday, June 28 to Saturday, July 7, 2012.

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