Joy and jazz: after a two-year pandemic gap, Montreal International Jazz Festival wraps up Edition 2022

In a two-part photo essay from this spectacular music festival, we showcase some of the outstanding bands along with director insights.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 630 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Regarded as one of the largest and longest-running jazz festivals in the world, the Montreal International Jazz Festival (MIJF) was back in style this summer, after a two-year pandemic gap. See my earlier writeups from the editions in 2017, 2016 and 2015.

See also my photo essays on the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta and Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri, and compilation of 130 inspiring quotes on creativity and jazz on the occasion of International Jazz Day.

The annual music treat in Montreal features hundreds of artistes across 10 days in June-July, performing in over two dozen venues. The showcase has been running for four decades now.

Attendee figures for MIJF run into hundreds of thousands of music fans each year. The festival also includes street performers, large art installations, and even cartoons.

“There were more than 350 concerts, two-thirds of which were free,” explains Maurin Auxéméry, Director, Booking for MIJF, in a chat with YourStory.

Maurin Auxéméry, Director, MIJF Booking – third from left (photo by Victor Diaz Lamich)

“We went down the digital road in the first year of the pandemic. The objective was mainly to support local musicians,” he recalls.

“We were able to do a reduced version in September - nothing compared with a normal festival. This time, we featured more and bigger presents to an audience we have missed in the last two years,” Maurin enthuses.

“The lines for artistes such as Louis Cole or Laufey were insane, and Domi & JD Beck sold out as well. Jazz is alive. Nu-jazz is getting so much attention,” he says.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new ways to connect to your creative core?

Al di Meola (photo by Victor Diaz Lamich)

Legendary guitarist Al Di Meola has a range of jazz, fusion and world music albums to his credit, such as Elegant Gypsy, Friday Night in San Francisco, Soaring Through a Dream, and Kiss My Axe. He performed along with musicians such as Amit Kavthekar, a Mumbai-born Boston-based tabla player and teacher who has also played at Chicago's World Music Festival.

Angelique Francis (photo by Madanmohan Rao)

Angelique Francis is an Ottawa-based multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter. Her music blends blues, soul, jazz and rock. She played a high-energy set showcasing her talents on acoustic and electric bass, both anchoring and leading the six-piece band. She has performed at Sighisoara Blues Festival (Romania), Ottawa Jazz Festival, Aurora Winter Blues Festival, and Calabogie Blues Festival.

Adi Oasis (photo by Benoit Rousseau)

Adi Oasis performed her trademark groove melodies, blending smooth jazz, soul, and R&B. The French-Caribbean singer is also a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. Born and raised in Ottawa, Adi has also performed at Central Park Summerstage, Ottawa Blues Festival, and Winter Jazz Fest.

Anomalie (photo by Marie Emmanuelle Laurin)

Anomalie is the live electronic project of Nicolas Dupuis, a keyboardist and producer based in Montreal. His projects include Metropole, and he has performed at Summercamp, Infrasound, Sonic Bloom, and Toronto Jazz Festival. His videos have reached millions of views worldwide.

Arooj Aftab (photo by Benoit Rousseau)

Arooj Aftab is the first-ever Pakistani artiste to win a Grammy Award, in April 2022. She performs a range of musical styles including jazz and neo-Sufi. Raised in Lahore, she moved to the US and attended the Berklee College of Music. Her records include Bird Under Water and Siren Islands.

Chelsea Carmichael (photo by Frédérique Ménard-Aubin)

Chelsea Carmichael is a London-based composer and saxophonist. Her 2021 debut album is The River Doesn’t Like Strangers. She grew up in a musical family, and was part of the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra. She studied at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music, and gives lectures on music.

Corinne Bailey Rae (photo by Frédérique Ménard-Aubin)

Corinne Bailey Rae is a UK-based  singer and songwriter. Her award-winning debut album was Put Your Records On, and she has received two Grammy Awards, She has also composed music for film and television. She has performed at Byron Bay Blues Festival, Glastonbury, Newport Jazz Festival, and Delicious Festival (Johannesburg).

Dominique Fils-Aime (photo by Victor Diaz Lamich)

Dominique Fils-Aimé is a Canadian singer from Quebec. Her album Stay Tuned! won the Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year in 2020. She was born and raised in Montreal to immigrant parents from Haiti. Her debut album is titled Nameless, an exploration of blues music.

Immanuel Wilkins (photo by Madanmohan Rao)

Immanuel Wilkins is a Brooklyn-based saxophonist and composer. His debut album was Omega, named the No.1 Jazz Album of 2020 by The New York Times. His next album was The 7th Hand. His music reflects influences of critical thought and African diasporic spiritual practices.

Jesse Cook (photo by Victor Diaz Lamich)

Jesse Cook is an award-winning Canadian guitarist in jazz and flamenco styles. He has won the Juno Award and Acoustic Guitar Player's Choice Award. His album lineup includes Tempest, Gravity, Vertigo, Free Fall, Nomad, and Frontiers. He studied at Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music and Berklee College of Music.

Kamasi Washington (photo by Frédérique Ménard-Aubin)

Kamasi Washington is a US-based jazz saxophonist, with an album lineup including The Proclamation, Light of the World, The Epic, and Heaven and Earth. His style blends jazz, hip-hop and R&B. He has collaborated with musicians such as Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Wayne Shorter, and Kendrick Lamar.

Lindsey Stirling (photo by Marie Emmanuelle Laurin)

Lindsey Stirling is a US-based violinist, songwriter, and dancer, renowned for her choreographed violin performances. Her styles span jazz, pop and electronic music. Her second album Shatter Me won the Billboard Music Awards in 2015. Her other albums include Brave Enough, Warmer in the Winter, and Artemis.

Makaya McCraven (photo by Benoit Rousseau)

Makaya McCraven is a prolific drummer, composer, and producer, whose newest album is In These Times. He was born in France in a musical family, and then moved to the US. He studied at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and released his debut album, Split Decision in 2012. His influences include folk music, straight-ahead jazz, and hip-hop.

Maria Jose Llergo (photo by Marie Emmanuelle Laurin)

María José Llergo is a Spanish singer whose EPs include Sanación. The music blends flamenco with other influences, combining tradition with modernity, guitar and electronica. She is thus regarded as a ‘bridge’ influence in music circles, taking new trails and exploring unknown places.

Melanie Charles (photo by Benoit Rousseau)

Melanie Charles is a Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter, and flutist of Haitian descent. Her music spans jazz, soul, and Haitian roots music. Her projects include the podcast Make Jazz Trill Again. She is a strong advocate of taking jazz to the youth, reflecting her deep care for community and culture.

Ravi Coltrane (photo by Victor Diaz Lamich)

Ravi Coltrane is a Grammy-nominated saxophonist, bandleader, and composer. He is the second son of John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, and was named after Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar. His albums include Spirit Fiction, and he has performed with Steve Coleman, McCoy Tyner, Jack DeJohnette, Joanne Brackeem, and other greats.

The Roots (photo by Victor Diaz Lamich)

The Roots are an American band blending jazz with hip-hop. They have served as the house band on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Their albums include Organix, Things Fall Apart, The Roots Come Alive, The Tipping Point, and Rising Down. They have also founded a creative arts school that helps support students in live performances and career management.

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Megha Reddy