The Off Festival de Jazz, returning for its 19th year Oct. 4–13, is one of those musical events that are all about discovery. I have been attending the Off since the start and heard amazing music and met musicians just emerging on the scene.
The Off is run by local musicians. It is designed to give them maximum exposure and a chance to perform new creations. That’s what makes the OFF so unique.
This year’s menu offers 21 concerts at various venues, plus one master class from New York-based guitarist Ben Monder at McGill’s Schulich School of Music. The first cluster of concerts is Oct. 4–7, and the second Oct. 10–13. The opening and closing concerts are at the wonderful Lion d’Or on Ontario St. E., and the others at the main jazz bars in town, Dièse Onze, Upstairs, and Café Resonance, l’Astral, Sala Rossa, or at other cultural centres.
A few highlights
- Oct. 4. The expansive 19-member Ratchet Orchestra, playing charts composed by bassist Nicolas Caloia, features a who’s who of city improvisers, plus Vancouver violinist Josh Zubot — clarinetist Lori Freedman, saxophonist Jean Derome, trumpeter Ellwood Epps, trombonist Scott Thomson, viola player Jean René, pianist Guillaume Dostaler, and drummers John Heward and Isaiah Ceccarelli. 8 pm, Lion d’Or.
- Oct. 5. American drummer John Hollenbeck, who teaches at McGill, has crafted a program for this ensemble — saxophonist Erik Hove,
trumpeter Simon Millerd, Terri Hron on electronics, with an animated film performance by Pierre Hébert. 10 pm, Dièse onze.
- Oct. 6. Solon McDade Quintet plays modern jazz originals, features bassist McDade, saxophonists Donny Kennedy and Jeremiah McDade, pianist Jonathan Turgeon, and drummer Jim Doxas. 9 pm, Café Resonance.
- Oct. 7. Roddy Ellias Trio, led by guitarist
Ellias, with the lyrical pianist Marc Copland, and bassist Adrian Vedady. 8 pm, Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill.
- Oct. 10, a back-to-back piano night, beginning at 8 p.m. with award winning Gentiane Michaud-Gagnon, an emerging jazz voice, followed at 9:30 pm by the more established creative outlook of Marianne Trudel. Lion d’Or.
- Oct. 11, Toronto-based Allison Au Quartet, another award winning group, features saxophonist Au, pianist Todd Pentney, bassist Jon Maharaj, and drummer Favio Ragnelli. 8 pm, Sala Rossa.
- Oct. 12, Saxophonist Jean-Pierre Zanella has gathered some of the city’s top jazz players and a string quartet to perform Australian trumpeter Mike Ryan’s Feliciano’s Dilemma, while projecting Alice Kohler’s photographs. 8 pm, PHI Centre, 407 Saint Pierre, Old Montreal.
- Oct. 13, saxophonist Samuel Blais with the drumming combo of John Hollenbeck and Dan Weiss, and the brilliant electric guitarist, Ben Monder. 8 pm, l’Astral.
For the full lineup: lofffestivaldejazz.com
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