Montreal Jazz Festival to Feature Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Wynton Marsalis & More


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The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan, has announced some of the initial concerts scheduled for the 34th edition which runs from June 28 to July 7. With a program featuring artists ranging from the music legends to bright new stars, this year’s participants includes Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, Nikki Yanofski, Dr. John, Ravi Coltraine and more.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis — June 28, 7 p.m., Maison symphonique de Montréal (Jazz à la Maison symphonique series) — They’re back at the Festival for the first time since the memorable opening concert presented during the 30th edition in 2009! Under the direction of supremely gifted American trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is incontestably one of the most respected big bands on the planet; since the late 1980s, they’ve made a brilliant contribution to jazz by fusing tradition and modernity. Class with a capital C.

Wayne Shorter, 80th Birthday Celebration — June 29, 7 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA (Les Grands concerts Rio Tinto Alcan series) — What better way to mark the 80th birthday of legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter! During this long evening of celebration―over 3 hours of music!―the guest of honour will share the stage with some illustrious friends. As the curtain rises, Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas will present the Sound Prints project. They’ll be followed by the star-studded trio of Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding. And finally, Mr. Shorter himself takes the stage flanked by his redoubtable quartet, here to thrill us anew after their remarkable comprehensive show at last year’s Festival. It’s an absolutely historic concert event!

Joshua Redman Quartet and Strings — June 29, 7 p.m., Maison symphonique de Montréal (Jazz à la Maison symphonique series) — A loyal friend of this Festival for 20 years now, charismatic saxophonist Joshua Redman amazes us with each and every visit: we still have vivid memories of his three brilliant Invitation series concerts in 2009 and his summit meeting with Brad Mehldau in 2011. This year, accompanied by Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson, the musician and composer brings us a new album, Walking Shadows (due in May), featuring ballads revamped with string arrangements that seem to have been conceived and tailor-made specifically for the Maison symphonique.

Aretha Franklin — June 29, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA (Événements spéciaux TD series) — The “Queen of Soul” is back in Montreal, five years after her first (and to this date, only) stop at the Festival―a performance that thrilled her many fans. The Queen of Soul returns to serenade us with a collection of immortal songs including “Respect," “Chain of Fools" and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Given how rarely the Queen takes the stage these days, we’re truly privileged to have this performance.

An Evening with George Benson — June 30, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA, 7:30 p.m. (Événements spéciaux TD series) — Gifted jazz guitarist, veteran improviser and highly admired R&B singer, George Benson’s brilliant career stretches over 40 years. His impressive trophy case includes a number of Grammys — the first three coming in 1976, thanks to the immortal platinum-certified album Breezin’ — as well as the brilliant reviews that followed his epochal performances during our 10th, 15th and 25th editions. Two years after his tribute to Nat King Cole, he’s back with all his greatest hits.

She & Him. Opening act: Camera Obscura — July 3, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA, 7:30 p.m. (Événements spéciaux TD series) — You know her as Zooey Deschanel and have likely seen her doe-eyed visage on TV in the New Girl series or on the silver screen in (500) Days of Summer. His name is M. Ward and you undoubtedly know his dreamy folk-rock. Together, they form the irresistible retro-pop duo She & Him, responsible for a pair of very endearing albums recalling the glory days of The Carpenters, as well as the brand new Vol. 3, due in spring. Warning: the young lady’s siren-song and the young gentleman’s musical charms can be addictive. Opening the evening, the delicious chamber pop of Scottish group Camera Obscura.

Double bill: Dr. John and Leon Russell — July 3, Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA, 8 p.m. (Les Grands concerts Rio Tinto Alcan series) — Seven years after his last visit to the Festival, famed New Orleans singer-pianist Mac Rebennack, alias Dr. John, returns with his latest album, Locked Down ― one of the finest releases of 2012, according to Rolling Stone — administering a potent dose of his incredible R&B-blues-rock-funk medicine. And the good doctor will be preceded by another living legend, singer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Russell, who played alongside the greatest greats (Cocker, Clapton, Dylan…) and soared to success as a solo artist with his amalgam of blues and southern rock during the ’70s.

Belle & Sebastian — July 5, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA (Événements spéciaux TD series) — This Scottish group may have been named for a children’s book—but there’s nothing juvenile about the devotion and adulation they inspire among their legion of fans! Justly so: elusive leader Stuart Murdoch has spent over 15 years crafting an œuvre at once artisanal and erudite, melodic and literate, evoking such Anglo-Saxon legends as Nick Drake and The Smiths, with the added tuneful fluency and poise of the pop goldsmiths of the 1960s. Their sold-out concerts have the ambience of a High Mass, where the faithful, in a quasi-trance, chant every lyric with remarkable fervour. Join the congregation and experience the very first B&S appearance at this Festival, marking their grand return to Montreal after a seven-year absence.

Emilie-Claire Barlow — July 5, Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA, 8 p.m. (Les Grands concerts Rio Tinto Alcan series) — It’s a well-known fact: Emilie-Claire Barlow loves her Québécois fans. No surprise, then, that the rising star of Canadian jazz has recorded a charming album entirely in French, Seule ce soir, which she performed to a packed, adoring audience during the Jazz All-Year Round series last autumn. By popular demand, Miss Barlow returns to offer this gift — along with other pieces from her rich jazz vocal repertoire —for her devoted fans in La Belle Province.

Ravi Coltrane Quartet — June 28, Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, PdA, 9:30 p.m. (Jazz Beat Hyatt Regency Montréal series) — Back after a 5-year absence — after blowing away the crowd during the concert-event Sax Appeal in 2008 — brilliant American saxophonist Ravi Coltrane returns with a new album hailed by the experts, Spirit Fiction, his 1st for Blue Note! He’s considered one of the standard-bearers of today’s New York jazz scene, where he showcases his vast compositional talents. Clearly, John Coltrane’s son has established a career that transcends his famous surname.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band — July 5, Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, PdA, 9:30 p.m. (Jazz Beat Hyatt Regency Montréal series) — Dixieland is in good hands with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band! Taking their name from the famed New Orleans venue where they formed, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has become the official ambassador crew for the genre. Travelling all over the world, they’ve spent five decades keeping the tradition alive. Twenty-five years (!) after their sole performance at the Festival, the legendary ensemble returns to transport us back to the very roots of jazz.

Oliver Jones solo — July 5 and 6, Cinquième Salle, PdA, 7 p.m., (Pianissimo series) — With every visit, the venerable Oliver Jones delights us with a magisterial demonstration of piano brilliance. The jazz giant returns after his performance in Théâtre Maisonneuve with vibraphonist Peter Appleyard last summer. In this pair of extraordinary concerts, the Montreal music legend brings us an exceedingly rare solo performance featuring a mix of compositions and standards in the perfectly intimate Cinquième Salle.

Woodkid — July 1, Métropolis, 8:30 p.m. (Les Rythmes series) — The man behind highly-regarded videos for Katy Perry, Moby and Lana Del Ray, director Yoann Lemoine has both an eye and an ear for the job. Having created an ever-building international buzz with the Iron video (18 million viewings on YouTube!) two years back, this versatile French artist works under the pseudonym Woodkid to craft a cinematographic pop music that transports and moves the listener. Since his triumphant autumn performance at the Grand Rex in Paris (with percussionists and an orchestra, if you please…), he’s left no stone unturned. Welcome him back with songs from a debut album, The Golden Age, due on March 18. Solid gold. (Please note that this concert is not included in the presale for Infolettre Spectra subscribers. Tickets on sale Saturday, February 2, starting at noon.)

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and James Hunter — July 3, Métropolis, 8:30 p.m. (Les Rythmes series) — The female reincarnation of the immortal James Brown, the passionate Sharon Jones rolls in with her faithful Dap-Kings, specializing in the ultimate old-style soul-funk-R&B revue. And not a moment too soon, as it’s been 10 years since the grande dame’s sole visit to the Festival! The evening begins in the company of excellent soul singer James Hunter, hailed in 2010 for his performance on the Place des Festivals, accompanied by his fierce band, The James Hunter Six, presenting a highly-anticipated new album, Minute By Minute.

Holly Cole — June 27, 28 and 29, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 8 p.m. — This talented Nova Scotia native launched her career in a series of Toronto groups. A devotee of both jazz and pop, the inspired performer knows how to take songs by artists as varied as Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits and The Beatles and make them her own. After her remarkable performance in Théâtre Maisonneuve two years back, Miss Cole returns to present her new album, Night, in the warm ambience of TNM—for three straight nights!

Nikki Yanofsky — July 4, 5 and 6, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 8 p.m. — She needs no introduction: the darling of Montreal jazz, discovered at the Festival in 2006 when she was just 12, now blossomed into a singer of international calibre. Hailed at the Olympia in Paris, the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, the Olympic Winter Games of Vancouver and, during her last visit, in Place des Arts with the Orchestre Métropolitain, Nikki Yanofsky honours us with three concerts showcasing the full measure of her immense talent… and unveils her new album, due in June. (Have we mentioned she isn’t yet 20?)

Jazz gift certificates: When you love music, you always want more! Luckily, our new Festival gift certificates are here to meet the needs and tastes of lovers of good music. With a $25 value, they can be used towards the purchase of tickets to concerts presented by the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and the Jazz All-Year Round series, in official Festival boutiques and in the Galerie Lounge TD and Bistro Le Balmoral, both located in the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan. To get the jump on the crowd, sign up for the Spectra Newsletter and have the scoop on the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal emailed to your inbox. For further information, call the Info-Jazz Line at 514 871-1881, toll-free at 1 85JAZZFEST.

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