Thursday, June 4, 2009

Montreal jazz expands

When most of us outside of Canada think jazz and Montreal, we think early summer. Equipe Spectra, the organization that produces the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, wants to make that linkage year-round. It makes sense, as the city has a jazz hunger that extends beyond the summer season, no doubt whetted by the two-week extravaganza that ranks as the largest and generally the finest jazz festival on the planet. This year's 30th edition runs June 30 to July 12.

With expansion of the Place des Arts, the general home of the festival, into a full-blown Quartier des Spectacles, Equipe Spectra has transformed a neighboring former warehouse building into a multi-story, multi-purpose facility called Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan (“House of the Festival” for short).

The centerpiece is L’Astral, a state-of-the-art, 350-seat, cabaret-style showroom. The venue will open June 29 with a pre-festival concert by Montreal pianist Oliver Jones (back from retirement once again) and singer Ranee Lee, and a public concert by the same pair on the 30th.

L’Astral... >

Tickets go on sale June 6 for L’Astral’s inaugural Jazz All Round series. The September through November schedule includes the Yaron Herman Trio (opening on Sept. 17), Harry Manx, the McCoy Tyner Trio, the Allan Holdsworth Trio, The Sociopaths featuring Charles Papasoff, Coral Egan and Matt Herskowitz; Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Standards Trio, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, the Steve Amirault Trio, Sara Tavares, Cowboy Junkies and Carol Welsman.

McCoy Tyner, Montreal, July 2008... ^

The new building on St. Catherine Street will also include a restaurant, hall of fame, archives and exhibition space, and the festival's media space.For more information, visit the festival's Web site,

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