Reviews & Previews

Montreal International Jazz Festival 2017: Irwin Block’s picks

Here are my picks for the most promising shows at this summer’s Montreal International Jazz Festival. Choices focus on what qualifies as jazz.

June 28 For something refreshing, inventive and brilliant, check out South Korean vocalist Youn Sun Nah, whose alto voice dazzled fans in her 2010 debut here, with a band including virtuoso guitarist Clifton Hyde, Monument National, $48, 8pm.

June 29 The Minneapolis trio called The Bad Plus, with its avant jazz sensibility even as it dips into the rock and pop repertoire, in the first of three gigs with pianist Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (bass), Gésu, $54, 6 pm. Also June 30, with alto saxophonist
Rudresh Mahanthappa, July 1 with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.

June 29 Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire is an essential cog in the ever-expanding wheel of the jazz experience, not-to-be missed, with his quartet of Sam Harris (piano), Justin Brown (drums), and Harish Rajhavan (bass), Monument National, $41, 8 pm

June 30 Montreal-based saxophonist/composer Christine Jensen and her U.S. based sister, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, team up with the inventive American guitarist Ben Monder to offer the latest in their ever evolving musical experience, l’Astral, $36, 6 pm

June 30 The names in Hudson and Charles Lloyd quartets speak jazz: Drummer Jack Dejohnette, with guitarist John Scofield, pianist John Medeski, and bassist Larry Grenadier are its continuing culture; Saxophonist Charles Lloyd is a living legend, Maison symphonique de Montréal, $69-$89, 8 pm.

June 30 The nine-member Harlem Gospel Choir, aged 17 to 70, will shake the rooftops as it stirs the spirit in your heart, Théatre Maisonneuve, $47-$59, 8 pm.

July 1 Tenor saxophonist Yannick Rieu Nonette leads a local ensemble playing standards and originals as arranged by Vic Vogel at Dièse Onze, the lovely club at 4115 St. Denis, with a great menu, $20, 9:30 pm.

July 2 Pianist John Roney recreates the spirit of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert, $36, Cinquieme Salle, Place des Arts, $36, 7 pm.

July 2 Described as Cuba’s most exciting pianist, Roberto Fonseca fuses various musical streams with his country’s various traditions, Monument National, $43, 8 p.m.

July 2 Pianist Vijay Iyer is an intriguing musician, and this solo gig at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill is a wonderful opportunity to hear his creativity as you enjoy a meal/drink, 1254 Mackay, $52, 9:45 pm.

July 2 Guitarist Bill Frisell is an open-eared master who will be playing from his CD with bassist Thomas Morgan, including the Carter Family’s Wildwood Flower, a tribute to Lee Konitz, and a reading of goldfinger, Gesu, $54, 10:30 pm.

July 3 Django Reinhardt pioneered Gypsy Jazz, and that tradition lives on with the French trio of fleet-fingered guitarist Samson Schmitt, accordionist Ludovic Beier, and violinist Pierre Blanchard, Gesu, $46, 10:30 pm.

July 4 Two creative streams team up in this all-star double bill: Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez, followed by tenor sax maven Joshua Redman, with trumpeter Ron Miles, and the dream team of drummer Brian Blade and bassist Scott Colley, Maison symphonique de Montréal, $59 to $74, 7 pm.

July 5 Jane Bunnett, the adventurous Toronto saxophonist, showcases her Maqueque sextet, where she gives a modern jazz inflection to their Afro-Cuban music in a bill also featuring the brilliant Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, Théâtre Maisonneuve, $51-$59, 8 pm.

July 5 We got to know pianist George Cables when he played and recorded with Dexter Gordon, and here he will play in a trio from his latest CD, Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, $45, 7 and 9:45 pm.

July 6 Tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane has carved out a strong identity of his own, beyond his famous name, and it will be a delight to hear him stretch out in a duo with Cuban pianist David Virelles, Gésu, $54, 6 pm. At the same venue: on July 7, Coltrane leads a quartet, $56, 6 pm, and on July 8 leads a sextet, $58, 6pm.

July 6 Trumpeter Wallace Roney leads a quintet in what should be a thrilling four sets at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, also July 7, $45, 7 pm and 9:45 pm.

July 6 Not to be missed is the Riverside project, linking innovative trumpeter Dave Douglas and Montreal saxophonist Chet Doxas, with bassist Steve Swallow, and Chet’s brother Jim Doxas on drums, with Carla Bley guesting on piano, Monument National, $48, 8 pm.

July 6 Cuban pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa is the latest keyboard master to be revealed at this festival, returning in a trio, Gésu, $44, 10:30 pm.

July 7 A simulated Battle of the Bands is back for a ninth year pitting the Xavier Cugat Orchestra. with its Latin rhythms, against the Cab Calloway crew, led by the founder’s grandson, Christopher Calloway Brooks, Maison symphonique, $94-$100, 7 pm.

July 7 Guitar virtuoso Harry Manx defies classification, and paired with a Quebec-based string quartet – Amélie Lamontagne, Camille Paquette-Roy, Sarah Martineau, and Edith Fitzgerald – the music should be sublime, Monument National $46, 8 pm.

July 7 Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq has turned a traditional art form into a thrilling and unique musical genre, Club Soda, $38-$40, 10 pm.

July 7 Pianist Lorraine Desmarais will give the music of Bill Evans her own flavor in this trio gig, Gésu, $41, 10:30 pm.

July 8 Trumpeter/composer Joe Sullivan leads a quintet in a set of originals at the lovely Dièse Onze bar, with terrific food and views, $12, 9:30 p.m.

July 8 Closing the festival, composer and McGill prof. John Hollenbeck leads the Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal in a new work featuring avant vocalist Theo Bleckmann, Gésu, $49, 10:30 pm.

For the full lineup go to fijm.com-en-CA

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