Like parent, like child
at the Montreal Jazz Festival
Two talented offspring of jazz greats take the stage at jazz fest
By Byron Toben
Many children of famous parents enter the “Family Business” by pursuing the path of their forbearers. Works for the Royal Family of England and many lesser lights, so no surprise, same thing for musicians and singers.
Some famous examples are Judy Garland and daughter Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy, Nat ‘King’ Cole and daughter Natalie, Johnny Cash and daughter Rosemary. Sons are not excluded, witness Woody Guthrie and son Arlo, Frank Zappa and son Ahmet, Loudon Wainwright III and son Rufus, Bob Dylan and son Jakob and of course, Leonard Cohen and son Adam.
Ravi is the son of jazz innovator great John Coltrane. Saxophonist John was also featured in a daily film documentary that ran twice a day at the Cinema du Parc during the festival. Named after sitar great Ravi Shankar (whose songstress daughter Norah Jones has appeared at earlier editions of the festival), Ravi appeared three times at the Gesu Theatre, each time with a different team – once with his own quartet, once with a group called The Void and once in a duo with masterful Cuban pianist David Virelles.
Ravi might well claim, as did Justin Trudeau, “I’m not my father.” But like Justin, he shares many of the feel and grooves of his dad, who had shot to fame during his ups and downs with the Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk ensembles.
Definitely hope Ravi returns to Montreal in near future and hope Cinema du Parc encores the terrific doc about John.
Lisa Simone, who performs, like Montreal singer Neema, under only her surname, is the daughter of singing icon Nina Simone. She is fluent in French, which should add to her appeal in Montreal.
Her first stage appearance was in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. She then was the title role in the Disney musical Aida and later, Fantine in Les Misérables. Between acting and Broadway-type assignments, she has churned out a number of jazzy albums. The versatile Simone was also once an engineering assistant in the US Air Force. Her mom, the “High Priestess of Soul” was not only a pianist and singer but a key civil rights activist, the author of the song Mississippi Goddamn.
Lisa appeared one night this year on a double bill with Michael Kaeshammer. Hope Lisa too, can be booked here again.
The 38th Montreal International Jazz Festival ended on July 8.
Feature images: courtesy Lisa Simone
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.