Day 12 - Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, July 9, 2006
In terms of sheer entertainment value, Bregovic's show was a massive success. It ended after nearly two hours, but not without an encoreand when an audience that size demands one, you'd better be prepared to get out there and give it up. Bregovic complied with a performance that was even more visually arresting than the main show. As always, Montreal audiences are appreciative, but they also know when the artist has had enough.
Another remarkable aspect of the festival's final performance was just how quickly the crowd dissipated when the show was over. Within an hour, the streets were empty and clean. The festival's large staff ensures that the streets are cleared of debris every nightalthough the Montreal crowd is among the most respectful in North America, making use of the numerous garbage containers spread throughout the site.
And so, with the 27th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival overand the city gearing up next for its Just for Laughs Comedy Festivalhow did the event shape up to previous ones? For many years, Montreal has expanded its focus beyond jazz, and the 2006 event went even further in that direction with a number of world music artists at the Spectrum's 6 pm series. And the big-ticket events, which highlighted artists like John Zorn's Masada, John Pizzarelli and Dave Brubeck, also included a number of non-jazz performers, including Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello and Daniel Lanois.
The wealth of music here, just like the events at the recently completed Ottawa Jazz Festival, gave Montreal audiences an opportunity to experience the true diversity of jazz. The featured artists ranged from clarinetist Don Byron and vibraphonist Stefon Harris to saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Kenny Garrett and Wayne Shorter. Perhaps even more important, lesser-known artists performed at events like the Suono Italia series and the 6 pm Jazz D'Ici series, which featured local talent. The nightly jam sessions at the Hyatt (the festival hotel) by the formidable piano trio of John Roney, Zach Lauber and Jim Doxasalong with artists both known and unknownmade it a hopping place to be.
Some people will continue to complain about the harsh reality which faces jazz festivals today: in order to remain viable, they need to bring in artists outside even the broadest definition of jazz. But Montreal has at least done so in an organized fashion, tending to focus on specific areas like blues and world music. And all the better if these shows draw people to the festival and encourage them to check out more jazz-centric performers.
Montreal also increased the size of its second annual free Salon des Instruments de Musique et des Musicians de Montreal (SIMMM), a trade show for instrument builders that also includes workshops and Q&A sessions with notables including Bonnie Raitt, luthier Oskar Graf and Pat Martino. By expanding into more spaces, this exhibition is already putting the heat on longstanding shows like NAMM.
And so, with the 2006 edition over, what will Montreal do for 2007? At this point nothing is certain, but without doubt, there will be plenty of familiar faces to look forward toand the surprises, like this year's Suono Italia series, that make attending the festival an enriching experience which expands the minds of even the most committed jazz fans.