Here are suggestions for top concerts at indoor venues at this year’s Montreal International Jazz Festival. We’ve excluded non-jazz or sold-out events. A great variety of free outdoor concerts can be discovered daily.
Bassist Omer Avital, Israeli-born and trained, brings his thrilling and forward-looking quintet with Joel Frahm on sax to Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, 7 and 9:45 pm, $35 each set.
Oud player Rabih Abou-Khalil, the Arabic Oud master, blends traditional sounds with a jazz and modernist’s sensibility, Monument National, 8 pm, $34-$51.
Charnett Moffett, the hugely talented bassist, plays with electric guitar whiz Stanley Jordan and drummer Jeff (Tain) Watts, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $47-$54.
Bassist Avishai Cohen plays gorgeous melodies, at that rare higher level, with his trio, inculding pianist Nitai Hershkovitz and drummer Daniel Dor, Gesù, 6 pm, $42-$49.
Trumpeter Enrico Rava, Italy’s perennial jazz star, leads a quintet with trombonist Gianluca Petrella and pianist Giovanni Guidi, Monument National, 8 pm, $34-$51.
Bassist Avishai Cohen adds the innovative electric guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel to his trio to round out his series, Gesù, 6 pm, $47-$54.
The Bad Plus acoustic trio (Reid Anderson, drums; Ethan Iverson, bass; David King, piano) add snap, crackle and lyricism with tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, Théâtre Maisonneuve, 8 pm, $47-$57.
Pianist Robert Glasper is neo soul and experimentation for meditation – a stunning talent that must be heard, with Vincente Archer (bass) and Damion Reid (drums), Monument National, 8 pm, $38-$55.
Jean Derome, Normand Guilbeault, Pierre Tanguay, the veteran Montreal-based sax-bass-drums trio, is tight, talented and fun to watch, L’Astral, 6 pm, $28-$32.
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel kicks off his Invitation series with his new quartet of Aaron Parks (piano), Eric Revis (bass), and Allan Mednard (drums), Gesù, 6 pm, $42-$49.
Guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Joe Lovano are must-see musicians, with drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Larry Grenadier, Théâtre Maisonneuve, 8 pm, $52-$62.
Ron Miles on cornet challenges on the modal side of the spectrum with brilliant band-mates – Brian Blade on drums and Bill Frisell on guitar, Monument National, 8 pm, $33-$50.
Buster Williams (bass), Gary Bartz (saxophones), Al Foster (drums), and Larry Willis (piano), known as Heads of State, are jazz royalty, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $47-$54.
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, much in demand as a sideman for his distinctive sound, unusual chords, and imaginative use of special effects, plays a rare solo gig, Gesù, 6 pm, $40-$47.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s quartet – Danilo Perez (piano), John Petitucci (bass), Brian Blade (drums) – is the must-see group in jazz, with opening act 11-year-old piano virtuoso Joey Alexander, Maison symphonique de Montréal, 7 pm, $68-$93.
Pianist Harold Mabern is a living legend, best appreciated in an intimate bar setting, in a quartet with Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Joe Farnsworth (drums), Brandi Disterheft (bass) at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, 7 pm and 9:45 pm, $40 per set.
Pianist/conductor Vic Vogel, who turns 80 in August, says it’s a farewell concert, with his big band and special guests, Théâtre Maisonneuve, 8 pm, $38-$49.
Guitarist Gilad Hekselman, a young master trained in Israel and working out of New York City, leads a quartet with the sublime tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, 7 pm and 9:45 pm. $37 per set.
Pianist Vijay Iyer offers a unique vision in his friendly avant approach, with Justin Brown (bass) and Stephan Crump (drums), Monument National, 8 pm, $28-$42.
Electric guitarist Nels Cline teams up with acoustic guitarist Julian Lage for what should be an innovative outing, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $42-$49.
Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, formerly known as Dollar Brand, is an Ellingtonian whose rich chords reflect the colours of his native South Africa, Invitation Series solo, Gesù, 6 pm, $40-$47.
Guitarist Russell Malone is a self-taught master and his quartet is perfect for Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, 7 pm and 9:45 pm, also on July 3, $42 per set.
Pianist Lorraine Desmarais delivers on every musical level, in a rare solo outing, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $34-$41.
Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim sets aside his roots orientation with cellist Noah Alexander and saxophonist Cleave Guyton in his Japanese influenced Mukashi Trio, Gesù, 6 pm, $44-$51.
Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, based in New York, showcases her Made In Brazil project, with bassist/husband Marc Johnson, guitarist Rubens de la Corte, and drummer Rafael Barata, Monument National, 8 pm, $43-$52.
Electric bassist Alain Caron, pianist John Roney, and the Alcan String Quartet collaborate in what should be a sublime effort, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $41-$48.
Ibrahim Abdullah and Ekaya, which means home in the Xhosa language, is the horn-rich septet in which his Capetown sound is best appreciated, Gesù, 6 pm. $47-$54.
Battle of the Bands, featuring the reconstituted Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras’ charts, is fun and nostalgic, Maison symphonique de Montréal, 7 pm, $89-$96.
Master bassist Ron Carter leading a quartet with pianist Renée Rosnes, is a must-see, Monument National 8 pm, $48-$61.
Patricia Barber always has a lot to say as a wry wordsmith and subtle pianist, Théâtre Maisonneuve, 8 pm, $47-$54.
Pianist John Medeski, whom we know as part of a trio with drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood is an outstanding solo improviser, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $38-$45.
Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir closes the festival with one of its glorious performances at Maison symphonique de Montréal, 7 pm, $67-$74.
Pianist Uri Caine is a high-level and imaginative performer who can individualize any style of music and create something unique, Gesù, 10:30 pm, $34-$41.