Having attended hundreds of concerts at the Montreal International Jazz Festival over more than 30 years, I am happy to share my picks for the best of the fest. Non-jazz players performing at the festival do not qualify for this list.
Legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd, in the first of his Invitation Series, plays in a quartet with innovative pianist Jason Moran, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 6 pm $62.50.
Piano master Chucho Valdés and the Afro-Cuban Messengers with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, Théâtre Maisonneuve, 8 pm, $45-$70.50.
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Tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice Coltrane, has carved out a unique persona as an improviser, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 9:30 pm, $44.
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd explores the sonic universe with master tabla player Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 6 pm, $62.50.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter celebrates his 80th with his quartet, a quintet featuring saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas, and the ACS trio (pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, bassist Esperanza Spalding), Théâtre Maisonneuve, 7 pm, $76.50-$93.50.
Master guitarist Bill Frisell solo, l’Astral, 9 pm, $42-$48.40.
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd engages in duo and trio exchanges with pianist Jason Moran and guitarist Bill Frisell, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 6 pm, $66.50.
French pianist Jackie Terrasson in a classic trio setting, Gesù, $10:30 pm, $37-$42.55.
Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, with sister Christine Jensen (alto sax), and Gary Versace (keyboards) are expansive, innovative and original, l’Astrale, 6 pm, $27-$29.95.
Harold López-Nussa, Cuban piano whiz and a festival discovery, Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts, 7 pm, $29-$32.50.
Sax giant David Murray take a soul bifurcation with creative vocalist Macy Gray and a quartet with drummer Nasheet Waits, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 9:30 pm, $51.
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel is a leading composer/post-bop trailblazer who uses effect units, with pianist Aaron Parks in a quartet, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 9:30 pm, $45.
Pianist Steve Kuhn, 75, a magnificent pianist and leader, plays with ace bassist Steve Swallow and the great drummer Joey Baron, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $38-$44.35.
Saxophonist Joel Miller, 2013 Juno Award-winner for contemporary jazz album of the year, performs in a quartet with pianist Geoff Keezer, L’Astral, 6 pm, $21-$24.30.
Dr. John & the Nite Tripper and Leon Russell—exceptions to the jazz-only rule—in a double bill of R&B, blues, rock and funk, Théâtre Maisonneuve, 8 pm, $61-$76.50.
Vijay Iyer, the brilliant and accomplished scientist and pianist, launches his Invitation Series with his trio, Gesù, 6 pm, $36-$42.35.
The Mediterranean soul of Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi always shines, solo, Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts, $42.
Montreal’s Nikki Yanofsky, 19, is featured in a new program arranged by Quincy Jones, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 8 pm, $57.20-$68.70. Repeated July 5 and 6.
Pianist Vijay Iyer, in his second invitation gig, in a duo with keyboardist Craig Tayborn, Gesù, 6 pm, $31.30-$36.85.
West African guitarist Lionel Loueke’s evocative sound transports the listener to a heavenly domain, in a trio at L’Astral, 9 pm, $30-$34.40.
Saxophonist/composer Tim Berne showcases his cutting-edge Snakeoil quartet featured on his first ECM CD, with Oscar Noriega (clarinets), Gesù, 10:30 pm, $37-$42.60.
The stunning Soweto Gospel Choir—their Amazing Grace has 4.8 million YouTube hits—at Maison Symphonique, 3 pm and 7 pm $60.50-$70.50.
Pianist Vijay Iyer solo, Gesù, 6 pm, $31.30-$36.85.
Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal, Christine Jensen directing the city’s best and works by Coltrane and Joni Mitchell, 9:30 pm, Théâtre Jean Duceppe $44.
All-star post-bop group Migration with Antonio Sanchez (drums), David Binney (alto sax), John Escreet (piano) and Matt Brewer (bass), Gesù, 10:30 pm, $40-$46.35.
Pianist Vic Vogel—he wears his heart on the keyboard—Cinquième Salle, Place des Arts, 7 pm $32.50.
Brubeck Brothers pay tribute to father Dave with a Montreal trio, Théâtre Jean Duceppe, 9:30 pm, $44.
Post-bop guitarist John Abercrombie with Billy Drewes (sax), Joey Baron (drums) Drew Gress (bass), Gesù, 10:30 pm, $40-$46.35.