The Montreal Jazz Festival is celebrating pianists this year, with its 2013 edition dedicated to the late pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, a three-concert residency by Vijay Iyer, and a Pianissimo series.

In 2013, Vijay Iyer will be one of many pianists featured at the Montreal jazz festival but not at the Ottawa festival. ©Brett Delmage, 2006
In 2013, Vijay Iyer will be one of many pianists featured at the Montreal jazz festival but not at the Ottawa festival. ©Brett Delmage, 2006
“Mr. Brubeck was a proud partisan, champion and habitué of our event, which he honoured with 14 concerts between 1981 and 2011, and during the 30th edition of the Festival, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the legendary Time Out,” the festival said in a press release about their indoor concert lineup.

The festival will close with a tribute to Brubeck on July 7, performed by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet together with with Montreal musicians Lorraine Desmarais, Adrian Vedady, and Chet Doxas, “celebrating a repertoire that is quite simply the living memory of jazz”.

Other notable pianists performing during the festival will include Geri Allen (in the ACS Trio), Aaron Parks (with Kurt Rosenwinkel), Jason Moran, Craig Taborn, Barry Harris, Bill Charlap, Jacky Terrasson, Steve Kuhn, Lawrence Field, Laurent de Wilde, and Oliver Jones. From Cuba will come Chucho Valdés, and jazz prodigy Harold López-Nussa.

NYC pianist Vijay Iyer will play a series of three Invitational concerts in the acoustically-supportive Salle Gesù. On July 4, he will reprise his album, Accelerando (named the 2012 Jazz Album of the Year in the International Critics Poll in DownBeat Magazine), in a trio with bassist Justin Brown and drummer Stephan Crump. On July 5, he'll perform a duet with iconoclast Craig Taborn, and on July 6, he'll play a solo concert.

Of course, as the largest jazz festival in the world, the Montreal jazz festival is offering much,much more: every type of jazz – and pop, soul, and blues as well. It runs from June 28 to July 7 this year. Ottawa fans will be able to hear its last seven days without missing any of the Ottawa jazz festival.

Major artists appearing at Montreal who will not be in Ottawa this year include Joshua Redman. Antonio Sanchez, John Abercrombie, Ravi Coltrane, Tim Berne, George Benson, Trombone Shorty, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Joey Baron, Lionel Loueke, and Bill Frisell. Saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas will lead the quintet Sound Prints, together with pianist Lawrence Field, bassist Linda Oh, and Baron on drums.

The Pianissimo series will be split between pianists from Europe, Cuba, and Quebec. Several of the musicians will perform twice: once solo, and once with their trios.

The series opens with France’s Thierry Maillard, followed by English classical/jazz crossover pianist Gwilym Simcock, Cuban Harold López-Nussa, and French pianist and violinist Thomas Enhco. Italian pianist and composer Enrico Pieranunzi, who has wonderfully interpreted the music of Morricone and Fellini films, will perform solo in a concert which will also feature his own compositions.

Montreal’s Alexandra Stréliski will be accompanied by a string ensemble and projections. Oliver Jones will play two solo concerts (July 5 and 6) with a blend of compositions and standards. And, finally, Montreal pianist, composer, trombonist and bandleader Vic Vogel will appear for once without his big band, playing a solo concert on July 7

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd will also present an Invitational series on June 28, 29, and 30 celebrating his 75th birthday. He'll first play in a quartet with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland, then team up with Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland to revisit Sangam, first presented at the Festival in 2005, and inspired by a tribute to drummer Billy Higgins. Finally, he'll undertake improvisational conversations in duos and trios with pianist Jason Moran and guitarist Bill Frisell.

Fans of European jazz might wish to see Phronesis (a piano trio in which the bass plays the melody), and British saxophonist Courtney Pine's quintet in an amalgam of calypso, ska, mento and merengue together with jazz (Pine will also play Ottawa).

Lorraine Desmarais returns to the Montreal Jazz Festival in a tribute to Dave Brubeck this year. ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Lorraine Desmarais returns to the Montreal Jazz Festival in a tribute to Dave Brubeck this year. ©Brett Delmage, 2012
Vocalists include Korean Youn Sun Nah, Gregory Porter, Helen Merrill, Nikki Yanofsky, and Holly Cole. Bebop fans may want to visit the Upstairs Club on June 30 to hear the Bebop Band, in which Nir Felder, Greg Osby, Orlando le Fleming and Terri Lyne Carrington play the music of Dexter Gordon.

Emilie-Claire Barlow will present Seule ce soir, the album which won her the 2013 Juno Award for best Vocal Jazz Album. Joel Miller, who won the 2013 Juno Award for best Contemporary Jazz Album, will introduce a new project: Honeycomb, which pays tribute to the world-music scene in Montreal that has influenced his sound over the years.

Other Canadian artists featured at indoor or club concerts will include Alain Caron, Julie Lamontagne, Elizabeth Shepherd, Michel Donato, Jaques Kuba Séguin, Sienna Dahlen, André Leroux, Yannick Rieu, Michael Kaeshammer, Ranee Lee, and Alex Cuba. Chet Doxas will present his Muse Hill project with Brad Barr, Andrew Barr, Joe Grass and Morgan Moore. Saxophonist and composer Christine Jensen will host “an evening of refined melodies and daring improv” with guests Ingrid Jensen and Gary Versace.

The Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal will appear for the first time at the Festival, with a program which features pieces by Christine Jensen, Marianne Trudel and Jean-Nicolas Trottier, a tribute to Joni Mitchell with Karen Young, and excerpts from the Africa/Brass Sessions by John Coltrane, starring André Leroux on tenor saxophone

Tickets for indoor shows will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, May 4, and are already on sale to subscribers to the festival's free email newsletter.

The Montreal Jazz Festival also presents a substantial number of free outdoor concerts. In particular, audiences can hear some of the best in Quebec and Canadian jazz on the outdoor stages – especially those groups competing for the festival's TD Grand Jazz Award. The lineup for the outdoor stages will be announced on June 4. Follow OttawaJazzScene.ca for the latest news from the 2013 Montreal Jazz Festival.

    – Alayne McGregor

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