Last Days at the Jazz Fest

Some picks to wrap up the Jazz Festival

By Byron Toben

The 37th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival is heading to a close on Saturday, July 9. Here are some suggestions for free or low cost events on each of the last three days.

Thursday, July 7

2 pm – Place des Arts Esplanade
This brass Quintet has performed annually at the festival since 1987. It features big band standards. Creators Jennifer Bell on sax and Bill Maher on trumpet are joined by Dave Grott on trombone, Christopher Smith on tuba and Jim Doxas on drums.

Big Band Cégep Vanier
3 pm – Scene Rio Tinto Stage
Enthusiastic music students from Vanier College.

Branford Marsalis – The Sound Illusionist
7 pm – Cinéma du Parc
This fantastic film documentary (90 min.) follows Branford’s journey from New Orleans to international fame as a member of the talented Marsalis family and beyond as he and others help reconstruct the city after Hurricane Katrina. Lots of good musical interludes, as he transitions from bass and alto sax, to tenor and soprano. (New York based brother Wynton favours the trumpet.)

Porn Flakes – British Blues
9 pm – Bell Stage
The ever-popular Soirées Blues series features a British band that dives into the genre.

jazzfest big bad voodoo daddy

© Lisa Dodge, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
9 pm – TD Stage
How can you resist a name like this? This California group has played with dozens of symphonies, provided music for hundreds of films and TV shows and even a super bowl.

Friday, July 8

Orkestra Severni
2 pm – Place des Arts Esplanade
This wandering group features lively Kletzmer and South-Eastern European traditions.

The London Souls
5 pm and again at 7 pm – Place Heineken
This New York trio features ”bluesy, soulful, classic rock”.

Nomad O Swing
7 pm – Dièse Onze
This guitar duo of Michel St-Pierre and Lise-Ann Ross includes 30s and 40s swing, bossa nova, ballads and even Piaf.

jazzfest Ginkgoa

Image: Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

8 pm and again at 10 pm — Rio Tinto Stage
A New York gal and a Paris fellow combine swing and elegance in a danceable display.

Ron Di Lauro Sextet – Kind of Blue: Homage to Miles Davis
9:30 pm – Dièse Onze
A tribute to the Miles Davis of 1958-62, highlighted by his 1959 classic album Kind Of Blue.
Repeats at 9:30 on Saturday.

Saturday, July 9

Montreal Dixie and L’Esprit De La Nouvelle-Orleans
1 pm and 2 pm – Place des Festival and Place des Arts Esplanade
The two bands switch these two nearby venues with each other for their 2 pm shows. Montreal Dixie has added classical and Latin Jazz to their Dixieland specialty. L’Esprit de la Nouvelle-Orleans continues with the traditions of Louis Armstrong.

Call Me Wayne
5 pm – Place Heineken
Singer-pianist Julie Hamelin leads a swing jazz group.

Felix Stüssi Kwartett
7 pm – Place SNC-Lavalin
The winner of the 2007 Grand Jazz award returns with the group Kwartett featuring Bruno Lamarche (saxophone), Olivier Babaz (double bass) and Jim Hillman (drums). This is one show that I am not going to miss!

jazzfest orkestra severni

Orkestra Severni – Image: Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

West Trainz (Closing Concert)
9 pm – TD Stage
This Quintet has wandered the Festival site throughout its run. Now, they get to appear on the main stage in a “cinematic retro-futuristic sequence”. Be prepared for a mass audience, or, if you prefer a more intimate assemblage, go to

The Brooks
9 pm – Place SNC-Lavalin
This collective of top locals features soul music until 10:30 pm.

For more Jazz Festival information visit

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club

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