Off Festival de Jazz: For Montreal jazz lovers, the Off is on

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If you want to get a taste of jazz that is new, challenging, and fun, the place to be is the city’s venerable Off Festival de Jazz, October 5-14.

Its 22 concerts over nine days, with new projects focused on local musicians and their work, provide a showcase for where some of our most innovative artists are taking the music. Having
attended its concerts, I can say this festival has provided unique, ear-opening, and mind expanding experiences.

Here are some highlights:

• Oct. 5, the quartet of bassist Rémi-Jean LeBlanc, pianist Rafael Zaldivar, drummer Greg Ritchie, and Canadian-American saxophonist Ben Wendel perform contemporary jazz, based on drummer Marc Nelson’s CD, Sympathetic Frequencies, 8 p.m., Lion d’Or.

• Oct. 6, the Joe Sullivan Big Band, plays the music from the excellent new double CD, Unfamiliar Surroundings, 8 p.m., Lion d’Or.

• Oct. 7, big voiced Toronto bassist Artie Roth brings his quartet to town, 8 p.m., Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill.

• Oct. 8, a fantastic group, with intriguing words and music by pianist Félix Strüssi, with vocalist Sonia Johnson, drummer Pierre Tanguay, saxophonists André Leroux and Jean Derôme, 5 p.m. Café Resonance.

• Oct. 8, discovery time as the quintets of Mario Allard and Benjamin Deschamps launch CDS, 8 p.m., Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill.

• Oct. 11, Toronto-based drummer Ethan Ardelli brings his forward-looking quartet to town, a chance to hear voices from hogtown, 8 p.m., Lion d’Or.

• Oct. 11, pianist François Bourassa, and quartet launch a CD, 9:30 p.m. Lion d’Or.

• Oct. 12, pianist Josh Rager launches his new CD, 8 p.m., Maison de la culture CDN, 5290 Côte des Neiges.

• Oct. 12, Quartetski Does Bartok, with bassist Isaiah Ceccarelli, guitarist Bernard Falaise, and violinist Josh Zubot, and their avant reading of Bartok’s Mikrokosmos, 9:30 p.m., Sala Rossa.

• Oct. 13, the Eric Hove Chamber Ensemble, featuring Anna Weber on flute, is a fascinating contemporary classical/jazz experience, 9 p.m., Chapelle historique du bon Pasteur.

• Oct. 13, the quartet of bassist Normand Guilbeault, drummer Jim Doxas, and saxophonists Al McLean and André Leroux let it all hang out, 10:30 p.m. Dièse Onze.

• Oct. 14, wrap up with various artists under the direction of pianist Marianne Trudel, 8 p.m., Gesù, Salle de créativité.

The full lineup is at

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