Reviews & Previews

Montreal International Jazz Festival: Irwin Block’s jazziest picks

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

June 29 An all-star quintet at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, 1254 Mackay St. featuring brilliant French and American musicians: pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, Joel Frahm and Jacques Schwarz-Bart (tenor sax), Ari Hoenig (drums), and François Moutin (bass), $35 per set, 7pm and 9:45 pm. Reservations: 514-931-6808.

June 30 Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra, featuring Wynton Marsalis, combines virtuosity with precision and respect for the tradition, at the Maison Symphonique, $61, 7 pm.

June 30 Tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, 49, is the closest thing to a giant among under-50 reed players. He’s on with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, Monument National, $42-$49, 8 pm.

July 1 Pianist Lorraine Desmarais leads a dance-oriented big band with stalwarts Jean-Pierre Zanella (alto sax), Ron Di Lauro (trumpet), Mohammad Al-Khabyyr and Bob Ellis (trombones), l’Astral, $38-$42, 6 pm.

July 1 Israeli trumpet player Itamar Borochov is a young lion best appreciated in the intimacy of Upstairs with Shai Maestro (piano), Jay Sawyer (drums), and Tal Mashiach (bass) $30, 7 pm and 9:45 pm.

July 2 Bassist Avishai Cohen, discovered by Chick Corea, has come into his own as a dramatic composer and sound architect, in a trio with pianist Omri Mor and drummer Daniel Dor, Monument National, $42-$49, 8 pm.

July 2 Saxophonist virtuoso James Carter fronts his organ trio playing Django Unchained, with Gerard Gibbs (Hammond B-3) and Alex White (drums), Gesù, $43-$49, 10 pm.

July 3 Journeyman pianist Kenny Barron kicks off his Invitation Series with Malian guitarist Lionel Loueke in what shapes up as a sublime meeting, Gesù, $45-$51, 6 pm.

July 3 Mother-and-daughter singers Karen Young and Coral Egan harmonize with harpist Eveline Rousseau and bassist Pierre Erizias in a tour of world music, folk, jazz and some originals, l’Astral, $38-$42, 6 pm.

July 4 Flamenco without guitars, featuring virtuoso bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons and pianist David Peña Dorantes in their original take on the genre, Monument National, $45-$52, 8 pm.

July 4 Dr. Lonnie Smith, the Hammond B-3 master, returns to Upstairs for two nights, with Joe Dyson (drums) and Jonathan Kreisberg (guitar), $40, 7 pm and 9:45 pm.

July 5 Steve Coleman and Five Elements is a must-see concert. He’s bold, forward-looking and builds improv into his compositional framework with Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Miles Okazaki (guitar), Anthony Tidd (bass), and Sean Rickman (drums), Monument National, $49-$56, 8 p.m.

July 5 Pianist Fred Hersch is a master with a friendly musical personality and plenty of finely honed soul, Gesù, $41, 10:30 pm.

July 6 French bugler/trumpeter Stéphane Belmondo kicks off his Invitation Series in tribute to Chet Baker, with Jesse Van Ruller (guitar) and Thomas Bramerie (bass), Gesù, $38-$44, 6 pm.

July 6 Pianists Jean Beaudet, François Bourassa, and Marianne Trudel pay tribute to the quiet genius of the late Montreal-born master improviser Paul Bley, $33-$39, Gesù, 10:30 pm.

July 7 Trumpeter Ron Di Lauro plays another tribute to Chet Baker, with an all-star quartet of Janis Steprans (saxophones), John Roney (piano), Frédérick Alarie (bass), and André White (drums), $33-$39, Gesù, 6 pm.

July 7 Award-winning trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and forward-looking pianist Vijay Iyer, a remarkable duo who joined forces this year, combine award-winning chops with compatible visions, $43-$49, Gesù, 10:30 pm.

July 8 The third Chet Baker tribute features vocalist José James, with trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, $35-$41, Gesù, 6 pm.

July 9 In its eighth year, the Battle of the Bands showcases the Glen Miller and Cab Calloway orchestras, with top-flight musicians feigning competition, $91-$97, Maison Symphonique, 7 pm.

July 9 Pianist Aaron Parks, at 32 an emerging star, the sound of the future now, with Billy Hart (drums) and Ben Street (bass) – a great festival close -, $37-$43, Gesù, 10:30 pm.

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