Creativity and celebration–Montreal International Jazz Festival showcases its magnificent 43rd edition
In our photo essay from one of the world’s top jazz festivals, we share a range of musical highlights.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 710 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Regarded as one of the top jazz festivals in the world in terms of longevity and lineup, the Montreal International Jazz Festival (MIJF) celebrates its 43rd successful edition this year. See my earlier writeups from the editions in 2022, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
The 2023 edition reportedly included more than 350 concerts featuring 3,000 musicians from 30 countries. The 10-day festival is spread across six outdoor stages and 11 performance halls.
See also our compilation of 130 inspiring quotes on creativity and jazz on the occasion of International Jazz Day, and photo essays on the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta and Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri.
“A new wind is blowing through our beloved jazz world,” MIJF programming director Maurin Auxéméry enthuses, citing the rise of a new generation of performers alongside the legends.
The festival team organised a number of exhibits to show how jazz is both vintage and contemporary music, influencing and spawning a range of styles. Technology also played a role here with an augmented reality rendition of the Wall of Legends, featuring posters of the jazz greats.
The festival also includes street performers and live mural paintings, with many artists touring other North American cities during the festival season.
In this photo essay, we feature over 15 highlights from MIJF 2023. They include legendary performers as well as emerging artists from North America and overseas. Together, the artists showcase the power of jazz over the decades as a creative and unifying force across generations.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and let your creativity truly bloom across your personal and professional life?
The legendary Buddy Guy is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and the recipient of eight Grammies, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, and 38 Blues Music Awards. He has played a number of times at the Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai as well, and is regarded as one of the most influential guitar players of all time.
Anchored by bassist Michael League, the music collective Snarky Puppy blends jazz, R&B and world music. A rotating group of over a dozen artists is featured in their award-winning performances around world, including guitarists, keyboardists, drummers and other percussionists.
Tiny Habits is an acoustic trio from Boston. The artists Maya Rae, Cinya Khan, and Judah Mayowa blend jazz, choir, pop and even musical theatre. Officially formed in 2022, the youthful trio has a high profile on social media as well.
DJ Premier (Christopher Edward Martin) performed at MIJF along with talented musicians Brady Watt (bass), Carlos Homs (keys), Greyson Nekrutman (drums), Mark Williams (trombone), and Igmar Thomas (trumpet). He has received wide acclaim for his prowess as a hip hop producer.
The Urban Science Brass Band combines New Orleans-style brass band influences along with hip-hop and street performers. They are also the hosts of the annual Montreal Hip-Hop Parade. The event brings together beatmakers, producers, and DJs.
Jazz singer Samara Joy performed along with Evan Sherman (drums), Felix Moseholm (bass), and Luther Allison (piano). She won the Grammy for Best New Artist at the age of 23. She grew up in New York, and performed with jazz bands right from high school onwards.
The Altons are a five-piece band blending jazz, soul and rock. The lineup from East Los Angeles features Bryan Ponce (vocals/guitar), Adriana Flores (vocals/percussion), Gabriel Maldonado (bass), Joseph Quinones (guitar), and Carlos A. Canovas (drums).
Endea Owens is a Grammy-winning Detroit-raised bassist and composer. She was accompanied by Lee Pearson (drums), Louis Fouché (sax), Kris Johnson (trumpet), Shenel Johns (vocals), and Corey Bernhard (piano). She also has toured with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Diana Ross, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Steve Turre.
Quebec musician Mathieu David Gagnon is the anchor of the instrumental music project Flore Laurentienne. The talented musician has studied and performed in France as well, and has released a series of successful albums.
Herbie Hancock is a 14-time Grammy Award recipient and an Oscar winner. He is a major influencer across acoustic and electronic jazz. The child prodigy double-majored in music and electrical engineering, and was part of the legendary Miles Davis Quintet. He is also a founder of The International Committee of Artists for Peace, and was the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
London-based band Black Midi blends rock, jazz, ambient, and punk music. The lineup includes Geordie Greep (guitar, vocals), Cameron Picton (bass, vocals), and Morgan Simpson (drums). The band was formed in 2017, and their performances often feature other musicians on keyboards and saxophone.
Drummer Justin Brown played along with Stephen Lee Bruner (Thundercat) at MIJF. The neo-jazz group’s music is a fusion of jazz, funk and psychedelia. Justin’s debut album is titled Nyeusi. He regularly sports his trademark headgear, a hybrid of motorcycle helmet and disco ball.
What do you get when you bring together one of rock’s greatest singers and one of country music’s most celebrated artists? Robert Plant and Alison Krauss represent a highly-acclaimed combination of these two genres. They have released a series of albums including Raising Sand and Raise the Roof.
Alto saxophonist and singer-songwriter Braxton Cook is an Emmy Award winner, and has toured with Christian Scott and Christian McBride. The Boston-born artiste blends jazz, soul, and alternative R&B. He has also performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, and So What’s Next Jazz Festival.
The Brooks is a Canadian funk band featuring Alexandre Lapointe and Alan Prater. Their music reflects influences of James Brown, Fela Kuti, and Herbie Hancock. Over the last eight years, the band has released two albums and won a range of awards. Their performances reflect a free flow of creativity and instinct.
Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. She has also recorded a number of film soundtracks. The ‘cool jazz’ musician from British Columbia has also achieved crossover success in other genres, and has won the Juno Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album and a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.
(All photographs courtesy MIJF: Frédérique Ménard Aubin, Benoit Rousseau and Victor Diaz Lamich.)