The 39th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival is officially underway, and for the 10-day stretch from June 28th til July 7th, Downtown Montreal becomes the site of what the Guinness Book of World Records calls “The World’s largest jazz festival.” More than 2 million visitors will experience more than 500 concerts in Montreal’s concert halls, clubs, bars, theatres, outdoor stages—basically anywhere where you can fit a band, they’ll be playing.
Through it’s existence, Montreal Jazz Fest has made a name for itself through stellar jazz music, but as it matures towards it’s 40th anniversary in 2019, it’s become much more than that. Yes, the international slate of this year’s artists (from 30 countries) features jazz greats like Herbie Hancock and Béla Fleck, along with the younger guard in Kamasi Washington and Thundercat. But there’s an increasingly concerted effort to book acts beyond the jazz scope, to fully capture how jazz music has influenced artists of all genres, both young and old, and we’re excited to be there this year to take it all in.
With that, check out some of our highlights of acts playing Montreal Jazz Fest that extend beyond the jazz world.
The Colombian-Canadian fuses indigenous Afro-Colombian sounds with electronic beats. Her self-produced album, La Papessa, is a transformative journey into a mystical musical forest and it took home the prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2017, which crowns the Best Canadian Album of the Year.
Friday July 6th at L’Astral, 10pm
Daniel Caesar might as well be Canada’s answer to Frank Ocean. The R&B singer’s debut, Freudian, earned him two Grammy nominations and it’s as delicious of a nighttime listen as you’ll find these days. Dude is a star.
Monday July 2nd and Tuesday 3rd at MTELUS, 8:30pm
We said young and old, right? There will be no shortage of the flute when English frontman Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull take the stage. And maybe that gives Anderson jazz cred, but make no mistake about it, this is classic rock ’n’ roll of the highest, trippiest, proggiest order.
Saturday July 7th at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, 7:30pm
Sumney emerged last year as one of the brightest forces in indie with his groundbreaking debut, Aromanticism. The L.A. singer/multi-instrumentalist has become an important voice for those seeking love, compassion and acceptance in all forms and he blew our damn minds at last year’s FYF Festival.
Tuesday, July 3rd at Club Soda, 9pm
The recipient of SXSW’s 2017 Grulke Prize, France’s Jain’s makes Middle Eastern-tinged tribal dance pop music that’s sticky as hell. Still touring on the strength of her 2015 debut, Zanaka, she’s an apt booking for the largely French-speaking population of Montreal (even though she sings mostly in English).
Thursday, July 5th and Friday, July 6th at MTELUS, 8:30pm
Con Brio frontman Ziek McCarter is like a modern-day James Brown, and Con Brio are flat-out one of the best festival bands on the planet. Period. These cats are gonna rock the hell out of Montreal.
Wednesday, July 4th at MTELUS, 8:30pm
It’s freakin’ Seal, man! How can anyone not be excited to hear the man who’s one of the most successful artists in the world? While in America, he may best be known for “Kiss From A Rose,” he’s adored internationally and has sold over 20 million records worldwide. Did you also know that he has not one, but TWO self-titled albums? Oh yeah, they’re both multi-platinum. Freakin’ Seal, man.
Thursday, June 28th at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts
The rising pop singer/songwriter is a perfect example of Montreal Jazz’s youth movement. Reyez’s debut album, Kiddo, straddles the line between dance pop and guitar-based songwriting, and it helped claim the Toronto native the Breakthrough Artist Juno Award.
Tuesday, July 3rd at TD Stage, 9:30pm
The folk feminist icon has been putting out albums for damn near 30 years and it’s a pleasure to see her on the Montreal Jazz slate. She played a masterful Paste Live Studio Session last year that you can watch below.
Wednesday, July 4th at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, 8pm
Adam Granduciel and The War on Drugs claimed Paste’s 2014 Album of the Year for their breakthrough A Better Understanding. And now on Montreal Jazz Fest’s closing day, the Philadelphia band plays a free evening show at the massive outdoor TD Stage. If this isn’t evidence that Montreal Jazz Festival is about more than just jazz music, then we don’t know what is.
Saturday, July 7th at TD Stage, 9:30pm