“Clear days are so good and free.” — the iconic lyric sung by Flora Purim on Chick Corea’s iconic album Light As a Feather. Especially in northern climes, the lyrics evoke those perfect days we associate with the summer that comes and goes all too quickly.
When it comes to celebrating summer, there’s nothing like the now world renown 10-day Montreal International Jazz Festival (MJF) that begins a week after the solstice. What makes the festival special is that not only are the “clear days so good and free” but there are hundreds of free concerts that begin at noon and continue until closing time. Yes, for the duration of the festival there’s a Havana Moon hanging high over Montreal. Unnoticed in the 1000ds of positive reports the MJF has generated over the years is that it is above everything else a people’s festival. On any given day, you (family and/or friends) can attend the many free outdoor concerts that are strategically embedded in the heart of the festival. Along with the music you’ll also discover that the city is a magnet for the world’s polyglot of languages, which redounds to the festival’s continually evolving creative programming that attracts music and culture lovers from the four corners of the globe.
THE FREE SHOWS CONCEPT
In the early 1980s, when festival founders Andre Menard and Alain Simard were growing the MJF, they had an idea which would become the template for all festivals looking to survive the financial burdens mega-events invariably generate. They understood that the best way to introduce listeners raised on pop, rock or rap and hip-hop to the more demanding and complex language of jazz would be to provide it free. If jazz is now one of the mainstays of the city, it’s because Menard and Simard created the ideal conditions for listeners to expose themselves to an unfamiliar musical language while having fun. Jazz is a constantly evolving form with many different approaches to structure and expression (free-form, bee-bop, manouche, fusion, cool, swing, The American Songbook); and thanks to the free shows listeners can try them all out and then pick and choose.
LOCATION = CLUB JAZZ CASINO
Location location location is not only the buzzword in real-estate, but also for festival venues; and where steel and cement make up the core of the city centre, anything that is green and grows will attract the undivided attention of city folk starving for the natural world. Three years ago, the festival brain trust presciently introduced a new venue called Club Jazz Casino of Montreal.