Critics' picks for 2006

Wayne Shorter

2006 Montreal International Jazz Festival

As the 2006 Montreal International Jazz Festival fast approaches it's preview time again for this singin' reporter. Last year I interviewed jazz musicians, this year with the help of a colleague, Nicolas Dauplay, we bring you four interviews from experts in the jazz media. Included in this celebrity media line up are Jason Koransky, chief editor of "Down Beat" magazine; jazz radio host and writer Bob Putignano of the New York Blues and Jazz Society;'s very own editor-in-chief Neil Brouillet; and Katie Malloch, jazz reporter and host of CBC radio program Jazz Beat.
- Mary Ann Lacey

Katie Malloch, Host of CBC Radio's Jazz Beat

Katie Malloch has hosted Jazz Beat for the past 18 years. The show presents powerful concert recordings and studio sessions, current and classic CD releases, plus exclusive interviews with top jazz performers. A jazz lover from an early age, Katie has an intimate knowledge of the music: "It's a great joy to know that people are learning to love jazz as they listen to Jazz Beat, and that people who already love the music are tuning in every week."

Wayne Shorter Quartet and (opening band) Chet Doxas Quartet - Chet Doxas is a fantastic Montreal musician with the John Rooney trio rhythm section (hosting jam sessions for festival)...lot's of bang for your buck, two good groups...Chet is pumped about opening for Wayne. Both are adventurous and totally individual, you’re not going to hear standards. Wayne Shorter (photo above) is one of the great contemporary jazz composers. He was a member of the miles Davis quintet in '60s. This is exhilarating music. Shorter's musicians have to be sharp: it's like galloping after a wild mustang. Danilo Perez piano, John Patitucci bassist, and drummer Brian Blade. You don't know when Wayne will change his mind and go off in another musical direction, so see him now while you can. Chet may leave Montreal anytime now to work in New York - you can say "I heard him when..."

ravi_coltrane Ravi Coltrane Quartet - First time in Montreal. He is the son of John Coltrane and plays the same instruments, tenor and soprano sax. He grew up with two musicians in the family. Mom is Alice Coltrane - the last piano player with John Coltrane and later worked with Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette and others. Ravi is so talented - he writes beautifully, plays beautifully and, as all sax players of his generation, was touched by the Coltrane legacy. Ravi has a beautiful sound on the alto and tenor...he is growing and evolving. Luis Perdomo is the piano player he works with; they play off each others improvisations beautifully.

Christine Jensen Quintet - Alto and soprano sax. She is one of the super-gifted Jensen sisters (sister Ingrid plays trumpet). Her own compositions are really imaginative, very strong, they stay with you. Her tunes are assertive and quirky and she is a super player...alto is a difficult horn to make sound good. She also has a big band that is very good. This year she is playing with some great players, for example Dave Restivo on piano. Christine is a power house.

Pat Martino - He has a great new album, a tribute to Wes Montgomery, so he'll play from that. He's a soulful and very accomplished guitar player from a tradition of really cooking...not gentle music.

Jason Koransky, Editor for Downbeat Magazine

Downbeat is the oldest, most informed, and most popular Jazz magazine in North America. Jason Koransky writes and assigns stories, and contributes to the features Blindfold Test, Jazz World, On The Beat, Players, etc. I asked Jason to name some must-see shows, with a particular emphasis on the less-big names we might walk past.

james_hunter James Hunter - British soul singer. Phenomenal artist, reminds one of Sam Cooke or Jackie Wilson. He is like the next generation Van Morrison. He is starting to get known here in North America; in Europe he is already critically acclaimed. This is a great occasion to catch him for free. Listen to his album People Gonna Talk, amazing!

Pyeng Threadgill - American singer and songwriter. Daughter of Henry Threadgill, she re-contemporized some of the legendary Robert Johnson blues, infused blues with her jazz heritage...very creative artist with enormous potential who will put on a great show.

Enrico Pieranunzi - Italian pianist and composer. Incredibly melodic, comparable to Brad Mehldau. In trio with André Ceccarelli on drums and Hein Van de Geyn on bass, he is wonderful. Solo, and because he has such a distinguished melodic sense (he constructs melodies a little like Keith Jarrett does), the performance will be interesting. In the solo piano series he and Jean-Michel Pilc are not to be missed.

Chris Potter’s Underground - Elite saxophonist. The band is phenomenal. Chris Potter has fully arrived as his own musician on the scene, a saxophonist other saxophonists will go and see. Great rhythmic sense. Great fusion of electric and acoustic jazz. Hardcore jazz!

Biréli Lagrène Swing Night with Joey de Francesco and André Ceccarelli - Gypsy jazz at its best: this guy can swing his butt off! All his shows will be great. This will push him, it will take him out of his normal comfort zone. Should be really nice to see - go, go.

Neil Brouillet, Editor of

Editor of the online magazine, Neil Brouillet is a dedicated jazz fan who gets out to all the shows and has been covering the Montreal jazz scene for nearly 20 years.

Don Byron – Hipster dude...Byron plays clarinet and tenor sax. Just an amazing player. Always, always interesting. Lots of energy. This jazz fest show is a tribute to tenor man Lester Young ('40s style), and adding some new twists.

pat_martino Pat Martino - Incredible story behind this guy. He was a session player in New York, and in 1980 had a brain aneurism. His memory of how to play, and his concert career, was erased. He relearned from scratch how to play guitar from his early recordings. In 2002 his album Live at Yoshi's picked up two Grammy nominations, and he was Downbeat's top guitarist of the year in 2004. Lush and melodic, rhythmically complex...very smooth.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba - A fantastic Cuban pianist, jazz played with a Cuban sensibility...great rhythm in his playing, great energy, technically wonderful, real warmth and intensity of sound.

Yannick Rieu - Montreal tenor sax player. I used to see him play for free at Café Centrale. Playing again at the salle Gésu - nice venue. Sonny Rollins school of sax, blows like a madman with long melodic phrases. This year he took two trios and put them into one different configuration - two bass players on stage, with piano and drums.

Joe Lovano - An old school player. I had heard about him years ago and (jazz journalist) Len Dobbin suggest I check him out. Lovano is a warm progressive player, post-bop school...plays his own tunes and old and modern standards. His band is wonderful, you can count on it. These guys weather all the fads and just dig in their heels and get better. This will be great.

Bob Putignano, President of New York Blues & Jazz Society

Bob Putignano is President of the New York Blues & Jazz Society, a not-for-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to educating the public about blues and jazz music. He also hosts The Sounds of Blue on WFDU radio, in which he presents a variety of blues music as well as live performances and interviews with blues and jazz musicians and industry-related journalists. This will be Bob's 20th jazz fest. His picks are from the indoor series and are more weighted towards blues guitar and special performances. Here is his top five not to be missed, followed by other interesting shows.

Molly Johnson – Sumptuous Canadian voice that many non-Canadians do not get to hear.

Yusef Lateef – A long time off the scene, nice to see him back -does he still have the fire to play? If he does we are blessed.

Elvis Costello - He is a great song writer and has been showing a desire to be more rootsy by being in this music scene. His brass section is all New Orleans, the rhythm section is from the original Imposters album.

Pat Martino – Greatest living guitar player in my opinion. Listen to the CD The Cream of Pat Martino, a re-release of Foot Print as a reference to his current album Remember: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery.

maceo_parker Maceo Parker - Arguably the most significant descendent from many of the great Godfather of Soul (James Brown) bands. If Maceo can't make you move to the groove, no one can.

Bonnie Raitt - A lot of slide players hit bad notes - she does not. She may decide to take more risk; if you can get tickets, go. Notice Jon Cleary in her band - monster keyboard player.

Pharoah Sanders - Sanders more than held his own 'Trane, which should be more than enough reason to check Sanders out.

John Pizzarelli Big Band – Interesting to see him do a big band with him covering Sinatra, this may influence the possibility of an album. (note: Pizzarelli's Dear Mr. Sinatra CD is due out in July)

Deedee Bridgewater – Wide spectrum artist, you never know what you will get in terms of material but you will get a great performance. She is always trying new things, she always reinvents herself.

Etta James - Her strength is her raw voice and her recording history. She is a dying breed from her era, catch her now.

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Because there are so many wonderful shows to choose from, our advice is to use our guide and talk to the experts (the folks with the MEDIA or MUSICIAN tags) when you're on the festival grounds or at the jam sessions. Often, you will find that people are only too happy to tell you about a great show they've seen or are going to. Have a fantastic jazz fest, everyone.

Montreal International Jazz Festival
June 28 to July 9, 2006
Info/Tickets: Online, at the Spectrum box office (318 rue Ste-Catherine Street West), via Ticketpro (1-866-908-9090), or via Admission (1-800-361-4595)

Mary Ann Lacey is a multidisciplinary musician, dancer, and choreographer. She teaches Argentinean tango at McGill and will be singing in the Sunday afternoon concert series at Westmount Park on July 16 with Jazz Festival award-winner Alex Bellegarde.

Nicolas Dauplay is a reporter, arts impresario, and owner of the environ-chic and popular furniture store Greene Bamboo.

[ Photos of musicians courtesy Montreal International Jazz Festival ]

- Mary Ann Lacey and Nicolas Dauplay

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