Jun 24, 2011

Jazz Fest kicks off tonight with Prince show at Metropolis: late-night and intimate

It will be a-ma-zing, I'm sure...

Prince is performing two late-night shows during the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal at a small, intimate venue: the Metropolis.  He'll play tonight and tomorrow night at 11:30 p.m., a venu with a capacity for only 2000 people, while he usually plays arenas 10 times that size. 
Organizers say: "the star has asked us to transform the venue into a massive dance floor for the occasion. Therefore, the parterre will be reserved for dancing, with only 300 reserved seats in the balcony."
Needless to say, tickets were sold out after minutes. Sigh... 
And here are all details of the Jazz Fest program, from the official press release:
In total, more than 1000 concerts and activities await fans at the 32nd edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, presented by TD in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan! From June 25 to July 4, multiple musical celebrations, free outdoor mega-events, some thirty concert series, about fifty shows per day and a carnival’s worth of entertainment and activities illuminate the downtown core of Montreal. Montrealers and their guests will find something for every conceivable taste in the wild array of diversity presented annually by the Festival. Legends from here and abroad, newcomers to the music scene, rising stars and undeniable icons all gather in our city, whether solo, as stars of a megaconcert, in minimalist combos or Big Bands, all pouring themselves into the heartbeat of the largest and greatest jazz festival in the world. It’s an impressive free outdoor program in the heart of a city in tune with jazz, blues and world music, including a musical park for children, concerts, activities and entertainment, every day, from noon to midnight. Do the math: it’s 10 days of musical pleasure. You will of course have noticed that construction is going full steam ahead on Ste. Catherine St. and will not be finished before the event opens. Therefore, we invite all Festival fans to use the main entrance to the site, now located on De Maisonneuve Blvd. (in front of Saint-Laurent Metro), even though Ste. Catherine St. remains accessible to pedestrians. Fans can also discover the brand new Promenade des Artistes, extending along De Maisonneuve Blvd, from Jeanne-Mance St. to Saint Urbain St., where they’ll find the Rio Tinto Alcan stage, as well as many of the activities usually located on Ste. Catherine St.

Three massive free outdoor parties

Every year, the Festival invites its loyal fans to the traditional series of magnificent free outdoor bashes that have built its international reputation. The TD stage in the Place des Festivals is the place to be at 9:30 p.m. for three blowouts, starting on Saturday, June 25 with the Rio Tinto Alcan Grand Opening Event starring French sensation Ben l’Oncle Soul; at the Festival’s mid-point, Tuesday, June 28, for the Special Electro-Jazz Event with Misteur Valaire; and closing things out on Monday, July 4 with the TD Grand Closing Event in collaboration with XM Canada starring legendary party band The B‑52s. The party is headed to the Place des Festivals!

A cornucopia of concerts and entertainment

TD stage (Place des Festivals)
On the main stage, aside from the Grands événements, the Festival welcomes the Performances TD series, presented at 9 p.m. and once again at 11 p.m. Here, fans can party with the Soul Rebels Brass Band (June 26), who caused a sensation during the Grande soirée Mardi Gras closing the Festival last year, rolling out an irresistible carnival of funk, rock and reggae with a shot of hip hop, steeped in the jazz traditions of their native New Orleans; Galactic (June 27), a UMO (Unidentified Musical Object) appearing as a sextet of funkateers from Louisiana-one of the best jam bands in the U.S.-and landing on Planet Jazz to zap us with spatial electronica laced with intergalactic hip hop and cosmic rock; Ima (June 29), on a non-stop success streak (more than 225,000 albums sold), racking up platinum (Smile) and gold (a la vida !, Christmas) certifications, and who’s just released an album sung entirely in English, Precious; La Excelencia (June 30), THE best salsa group in New York, turning the Place des Festivals into a gigantic dancefloor; Marco Calliari (July 1), our fave Italo-Quebecer, finally headlining the Festival’s main stage and bringing us the hot and happening rhythms of his 3rd album, Al Faro Est, as a bonus; Susie Arioli (July 2), winner of the 2008 Oscar Peterson Award, one of Quebec’s most authentic jazz sirens and darling of this Festival, returning to our stage by popular demand, in a special Festival concert with guest musicians; and Gizelle Smith (July 3), the English sensation of the hour, the hottest new discovery in soul, the undeniable Golden Girl of deep funk, offering a unifying, lively, energy-packed concert.

Of course, fans can flock to the very same stage a little earlier, at 6 p.m., when the Gammes TD series hosts artists including young pianist and composer Laïla Biali (June 29), the new face of contemporary jazz, who has toured 5 continents and played alongside artists as diverse as Suzanne Vega and Sting, as well as in venues as prestigious as Carnegie Hall; Parc-X Trio (June 30), winners of the 2010 Grand Jazz Award, whose originality and stage presence are as much a trademark as their savvy blend of jazz, world music, classical and pop, as evidenced on Cent questions sans réponse, a 2nd album they’ll launch at the Festival; and the Blues Camp Graduates (July 3), fifty-odd very fortunate young musicians aged 13 to 17, chosen for their interest, talent and passion, completing their memorable tenure in this extraordinary and free musical day camp.

Rio Tinto Alcan stage (corner De Maisonneuve Blvd. and Jeanne-Mance St., Promenade des Artistes)
This year, the Rio Tinto Alcan stage is located a little further north, at the western end of the new Promenade des Artistes on the Quartier des spectacles, where fans can groove to the Soirées jazzy Rio Tinto Alcan series. At 8 p.m. and 10 pm., the series features, among others, a galaxy of ’60s rhythm and blues as interpreted by Nadja (June 25), Mario Pelchat’s muse, with her 2nd album, Everything’s Going My Way; the eclectic style of atypical Toronto singer Alejandra Ribera (June 27), whose concerts rollercoaster from Latin folk to French chanson to alternative pop without warning and channel a rare intensity; an original re-reading of the Louis Armstrong oeuvre, from Dixieland to the great classics of the American repertoire, courtesy of the instrumental pirouettes of Misses Satchmo (June 30); and the passionate Dirty Thirties sound of Canadian swing darling Alex Pangman (July 1), back after a decade-long absence from the Festival.

Grande‑Place stage, Complexe Desjardins
Class is back in session-with the completely revamped curriculum we debuted last year! A quintet of vocal harmonies (Les Zélèves) headed by Victor-Jacques Ménard, alongside James Gelfand and his quartet and, of course, our Festival mascot, Ste-Cat, are ready to welcome students back to a jazz lesson that’s perfect for the whole family! La Petite école du jazz (Little School of Jazz) presented by Rio Tinto Alcan every day at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., from June 25 to July 4, offers once again a dynamic, interactive and fun-filled musical initiation for young and old music fans alike!
Loto‑Québec stage (Parterre of the future symphony hall, corner St. Urbain St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd.)

At 7 p.m., the Spectacles blues Loto-Québec series is an absolute must, welcoming artists including Martin Goyette & the Skinny Bones (June 28) with a new project that leans a little closer to soul and swing with a power that could leave our neighbours to the south green with envy; the well-dressed Stephen Barry Band (July 2), legendary pillars of Canadian blues for the past 35 years, known for their high-calibre songs; the Conor Gains Band (July 3), led by a genuine little 16-year-old guitar genius, a former Blues Camp student (2008) whose blues-pop-soul stunned the crowd in the legendary Horseshoe Tavern; and Layla Zoe (July 4), a seductive, tattooed redhead with an utterly contagious energy, one of the finest blues singers in Canada.

A little later, Les Soirées blues Loto‑Québec take over at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. with a roster of artists each more interesting than the last. Among them, Lucky Peterson (June 29) unwraps his latest, Every Second A Fool Is Born, a collection of energetic, captivating, passionate songs; Guy Bélanger (July 2) rolls in with a solid group of four singer-musicians and a 2nd solo album, Crossroads, a savvy blend of originals and folk and blues covers; and young blueswoman Nina Attal (July 4) accepts our invitation to unveil her talent and a guitar style that is sheer rock goddess!

Bell stage (future Clark esplanade, corner Clark and De Montigny Sts)
When the temperature is at its peak, you’ll know you’ve walked right into the Tropiques Bell series, at 8 p.m. every night of the Festival! Among others, catch the return of the Roberto López Project (June 29), whose Soy Panamericano has made waves and promises to be incredible live; Baloji (June 30), the Congolese Belgian “sorcerer of words” bringing an incomparable and unique blend of instruments, styles and cultures; Novalima (July 2), the South American collective that upends every preconception of Peruvian music, broadening their scope ever further, integrating dub, salsa, hip hop; and Khaira Arby and her Band (July 4), the most beautiful voice in Mali, here with the rock-tinged desert blues that have made her the queen of Timbuktu.

The evening continues at 10 p.m. with the Groove Bell series, presenting Ghanaian-American Blitz the Ambassador and his Dear Africa (June 27), one of the most original MCs to emerge in recent years, zinging his music with funk, swing, soul, Afrobeat, delivering rich orchestrations and a vibrant, rhythmic poetry; the energetic Motown-inflected pop-soul of Fitz and The Tantrums (June 29), whose songs have hooked fans of TV series Criminal Minds and Desperate Housewives; and mixmaster Poirier and his Sound System with Boogat, Face-T, Imposs, Mr OK and L’Xtrmst.Zen (June 30), staging another evening of laserized dance music with a dancehall, soca and electronica edge.
CBC/Radio-Canada stage (former Parc des Festivals, corner De Bleury St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd.)

As the sun sets, the Brunantes CBC/Radio-Canada series lights up the scene at 8 p.m. with artists including versatile pianist John Roney (June 25), very active on the Canadian circuit, a veteran of the Festival jam-sessions from 2006 to 2009 and artist in the Piano Solo series in Balmoral last year, nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award; clarinetist Guillaume Bourque, composer and double bassist Jean Félix Mailloux and percussionist Ziya Tabassian in Bomata (June 28), who take us on a stunning world tour soaring on jazz melodies, also nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award; and trombonist, composer and arranger Jean-Nicolas Trottier (July 3), who seems to turn up in every corner of the Québécois jazz scene, whether leading his own large ensemble, trio or quartet or collaborating with other artists.

A little later, the Rendez-vous series gets underway at 10 p.m., offering the deep, darkly-accented free jazz of the Joel Kerr Quintet (June 26), led by a versatile double bassist, nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award and the Galaxie Rising Star Award; the imaginative treasures and musical curiosity of Room of Wonders by banjo man Jayme Stone (June 29), whose music is inspired by folk music from the world over; and the satin saxophone sound of Sophie Alour (July 3), whose latest, Opus 3, radiates determination, elegance and quiet strength.

L’Astral (Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, 305 Ste. Catherine St. W.)
New this year in L’Astral, at 11:30 p.m., the Open House series invites Festival fans to groove into the wee hours to Afrobeat, funk, soul, samba and everything else groovy with Montreal DJ collective The Power Dam Initiative (June 25 to 28); dance to the irresistible rhythms of Caribbean, African and Latin-American musical cultures mixed for the masses in Canicule Tropicale with Philippe Noel, Don Pedro and DJ Kobal (June 29 to July 2); and to attend a marriage of the finest rap flows and jazz rhythms dreamt up by grandmaster S. Mos (July 3 and 4), armed with keyboards claviers, turntables and other machines. Free. The Friends of the Festival Card grants priority access to Open House. Space limited.

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