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While the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal has always been about the music, it's also always been a spectator sport, with hundreds of artists performing at outdoor free shows and indoor ticketed venues to record crowds. But this year the festival has gone a step further, making it unique in yet another way by introducing the first Montreal Musician and Musical Instrument Show (MMMIS).
This four-day trade show features not only representation by virtually all the significant manufacturers of musical instruments and accessories, but also a variety of interactive sessions with some of those manufacturers, as well as a number of artists performing at the festival. With a survey from last year indicating that 40% of the visitors attending the festival are involved with making music in one way or another, this seems like the perfect adjunct to FIJM.
It reads like a who's who of instrument manufacturesFender, Yamaha, Korg, Boss, Marshall, Pearl, Godin, Ibanez/Tama, Roland, Apple, Epiphone/Gibson, Peavey, Hohner, Sabian, Zildjan, Shure, Steinway, and more. There are also booths for music retailers, specifically Steve's Music, which has been presenting video shows of live performances and clinics by a variety of artists, along with a sampling of books, DVDs, and instruments.
FIJM is also in the unique position to be able to bring in some of the major artists who have been performing at the festival for question and answer sessions and demonstrations. Amongst the artists involved this year are Pat Methenywhose By Invitation Series has been a highlight of this year's programming, and whose free outdoor Pat Metheny Group performance on July 10 promises to be a very special way to finish out the 26th edition of FIJMas well as John McLaughlin, Terence Blanchard, Paolo Fresu, David Sanchez, Michel Donato, and Oliver Jones. There are also sessions with legendary equipment manufacturers like Jim Marshall, whose Q&A session before Metheny's on July 7 was a window into the evolution of the rock and roll sound; Robert Godin, the Quebecois guitar builder whose instruments have gained international notoriety with artists including John McLaughlin; and Apple Computer, long considered the premiere platform for digital music creation.
There are also "jam sessions where attendees can get together and create guitar or drum orchestras, plus an exposition by legendary artist Gary Burdenwho has provided artwork for classic albums by artists including Joni Mitchell, The Doors, The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Steppenwolf. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus made a stop at the festival for three days, providing a professional recording studio that gives young players the opportunity to investigate state-of-the-art audio and video equipment.
For its inaugural year, MMMIS has also instituted the MMMIS Tribute Award, to be given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the promotion of music making. This year's award went to Jim Marshall, whose Marshall amplifiers literally changed the landscape of modern music, facilitating the creation of new sounds in rock and roll by artists including The Who's Pete Townsend, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton.
And if that isn't enough, there's an auction taking placeboth online at ebay.ca and at the site, for a number of musical instruments, including a Godin guitar signed by John McLaughlin, a Marshall amplifier dedicated by Jim Marshall, passes for two to FIJM 2006, and more. Proceeds of the auction will be donated to Jeunes Musiciens du Monde, a charitable organization that works with young people in villages and poor neighbourhoods from around the world, further proof that FIJM is committed to giving back to the global community.
MMMIS has been taking place at the Grande-Place du Complex Desjardins, a large multipurpose complex that houses a three-story indoor shopping mall; and the Hyatt-Regency, which is the official festival hotel, office space, and of course, offers a large area for expositions such as MMMIS. The site for MMMIS is spacious, clean, and well-organized, so that even when there's a significant number of people in attendance, it's easy to get around.
The first edition of MMMIS has been a offered to attendees free of charge. While some of the special offerings, like the Q&As with Metheny, McLaughlin, and Marshall, and the workshops with Blanchard, Sanchez, and Fresu, required tickets because of the venue's limited seating, tickets were also free on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The proliferation of musical trade shows around the world makes one question why it's necessary to have another one. But by linking MMMIS to the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, attendees have the unique opportunity to be both spectators and active participants. MMMIS has clearly been a successful venture, and it will most certainly be back for the 27th edition of FIJM next year.
Continue: Day 11
Visit MMMIS and the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal on the web.