The Montreal Jazz Festival 2017 - Will's New York Nite Life

The Montreal Jazz Festival 2017

The Montreal Jazz Festival 2017

The Montreal Jazz Festival
Various Venues
Montreal, Canada
Wednesday June 28 through Saturday July 8

Although New York remains the epicenter of the jazz world, with the demise of the JVC Jazz Festival (can it really be almost ten years ago?), the number one festival in the Western Hemisphere is now, almost without any competition, The Montreal Jazz Festival, which for almost 40 years, has been held at the end of June and the beginning of July. The MJF is at once diverse and consistent, featuring nearly all the jazz headliners that there are (this is where Diana Krall really launched her career) as well as many sympathetic visitors from other musical realms, ie, if you like jazz, chances are that you’ll probably also like Bob Dylan (June 30) and King Crimson (July 2). But what makes this such a unique festival - unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in New York - is the incredible amount of free music presented al fresco - in the Complexe Desjardins, a huge Lincoln Center-like plaza that, during the afternoon, always seems to have at least four bands playing at once in each of its corner stages, all afternoon. While there are no shortage of American stars, this is also the festival that does more than any other (at least in this continent) to promote the idea of jazz as a world music. The headliners come out in the evening for the ticketed concerts, and they are always the main attraction, but it’s the bands that play outdoors - many of them local - during the daylight hours that give the festival its unique flavor. And yes, it’s well worth the trip for New Yorkers.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL & VANITY FAIR, and reviews current shows for THE OBSERVER and THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of eight books including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, October 2017)

SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)