Montreal International Jazz Festival: Irwin Block’s jazziest picks

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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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