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Festival International De Jazz De Montréal 2018: Part 2

Mark Sullivan By

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"Voyage Beyond Seven" was one of the recent originals, from Legacy's Burden of Proof (Moonjune, 2013), which included a free rubato section, the whole band blazing away. Softs' ballad, "Song of Aeolus," featured an intense, sustained guitar solo; another Karl Jenkins composition from the same album, "Tales of Taliesin," featured an intense guitar/drums breakdown. Ratledge was further represented by Bundles' "The Man Who Waved At Trains," while Hopper ("our original bassist, who we really loved," said Etheridge) was featured through his "Kings and Queens," from Fourth, the oldest album (and tune) in the set.

"The Relegation of Pluto/Transit," a recent original from Legacy's Live Adventures (Moonjune, 2011), gave Marshall the spotlight for an unaccompanied drum solo. "The Nodder," from Alive & Well: Recorded in Paris (Harvest, 1978) was the encore, featuring an odd-metered ostinato with the theme integrated—a Soft Machine trademark. Regardless of which version of Soft Machine a listener knows, the current band proved capable of supplying a satisfying live representation. If you want to experience a living piece of jazz/rock history, go see them. You will not be disappointed.

My final late "Jazz dans la nuit," show in the intimate Gesù, belonged to American solo pianist Jamie Saft. The concept was simple: he sat at the piano and played songs he likes. Many of them were pop songs, but he also included jazz tunes and originals. It was pretty genre-free stylistically; he doesn't radically re-harmonize the pop songs, or swing them to make them sound like jazz. He just interprets them, in a very pianistic way, full of lush arpeggios and melodies doubled in octaves. He did not make any announcements until he had played three songs: Curtis Mayfield's "The Making of You"; his own "The New Standard"; and a Joni Mitchell medley of "The Dawntreader," "Black Crow," and "Moon at the Window." His tune had such a folk-like melody that it fit right in, sounding like a song you might have heard before.

Next was "Ode To A Green Frisbee," trombonist Roswell Rudd's dedication to composer Carla Bley, featuring some of her typical loop-like repetition. A medley of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" and John Coltrane's "Naima" made them sound completely natural together. Saft went to another Canadian source (he said the Joni Mitchell tunes were a natural for the Canadian setting), this time Montréal native Leonard Cohen. "Be For Real," written by Frederick Knight," was sung by Cohen on his 1992 The Future (Columbia). With that I had to take my leave because of an early morning flight. Saft's solo piano playing was a marvel: quietly virtuosic and unabashedly beautiful. It was a lovely way to end the festival.


As this was the 39th edition of the festival, next year will be a big landmark. I can only imagine that the festival organizers will outdo themselves for the occasion, and can hardly wait.

The final wrap-up press release teased one new thing, the ambitious "Hubs" project, writing: "Specifically, the Festival aims to be a vehicle for all, promoting the discovery of cultural and social wealth by anchoring itself in various neighbourhoods throughout the city. While continuing to occupy its central site in the Quartier des Spectacles with large musical gatherings, indoor shows and family activities, this global Festival will also get very local thanks to the launch of new festival centers called 'Hubs.' These hubs will promote encounters between citizens and generate new spin-offs for the boroughs, in a spirit of inclusion and integration. They will be accessible free of charge and offer the same artistic quality the Festival is renowned for."

Sounds like a great excuse to see more of the lovely city of Montréal.

Photo Credit: Dave Kaufman

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