The Montreal International Jazz Festival returns as usual this summer. In its 39th year, it will showcase both upcoming and classic musicians for 10 days in indoor and outdoor (free) settings. For those who like a bit of rock, hip-hop, blues and more mixed in with their jazz, let’s namedrop a few very well known international artists. From Great Britain, Seal will open the festival, while Americans Boz Scaggs and George Thorogood (with his Destroyers) will also make an appearance. The Festival prides itself in offering jazz, blues and World music, but there is always more hidden within.

As Cinetalk has a penchant for film scores and soundtracks, we can’t help but mention a few key moments to look forward to. The legend known as Ry Cooder had long been on the festival’s must-have list. In the past, Cooder had insisted that he made music for films (not “jazz”). Finally, this year their agendas have aligned in such a way to make this a possibility. The multi-instrumentalist is known for his work on Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984), and several other 1980s films. He has also collaborated with his percussionist son Joachim who will be his opening act at the Theatre Maisonneuve on June 29th.

Also of note, the Monument National will play host to the 2014 Miles Davis Award winner, Terence Blanchard. Also known for his work on the films of Spike Lee, the composer and trumpeter from New Orleans will perform with his E-Collective. Another recipient of the Miles Davis Award (1997), Herbie Hancock returns to the festival after an eight-year absence. Though most 80s kids would remember him best for his instrumental electronic pop tune Rockit (1983), Hancock is a staple of jazz-fusion and funky electro. He has also appeared as an actor in films as recent as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. But he is also an accomplished film scorer. Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966), ‘Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier, 1986), and Deathwish (Michael Winner, 1974) are but a few he has under his belt.

Jamie Saft and Marc Ribot share something in common. John Zorn. Saft’s trio has interpreted Zorn’s music. The keyboardist and composer has also worked with some hard-hitters like Bad Brains and Iggy Pop. He has, funny enough, also played with Ribot. Marc Ribot and his Film Noir Project straddled the border between noir classics and 80s No-Wave, including music by Zorn. Each musician will show us their unique styles at this year’s festival – Saft solo at the piano, and Ribot with two shows – one as a solo guitarist and the other in collaboration with keyboardist John Medeski.

Moving away from scores and further into the world of images (both moving and still), we will be able to see actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg at the M2 (the ex-Savoy room inside the Metropolis aka MTelus) – daughter of course of Monsieur Serge Gainsbourg, and Jane Birkin. The M2 will also host Moncton’s Julie Doiron in her first ever appearance at such a festival. Despite being present now and then in Montreal’s array of music festivals (such as Pop Montreal), the indie-baby who grew up in Eric’s Trip has also forged a career in photography. She will present a little history of her nearly three decades in music as part of the festival’s Concerts Intimes series.


There are events for everybody, including children. The Metropolitan Orchestra will perform favorites from the likes of Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda at the event aptly titled Dreamworks Animation in Concert. The music will be accompanied by projections of Dreamworks’ films on a large screen.

Last but not least, the festival welcomes back the aforementioned Hancock’s buddy, Bobby McFerrin, after an absence from live performance due to illness. The ten-time Grammy Award winner is not only a unique vocalist, but also a conductor. Some of his film-related endeavors include singing (in his special style) the theme song of the Pink Panther by Henry Mancini, and composing and singing the soundtrack of Pixar’s Knick Knack (1989).


The Montreal International Jazz Festival – Montreal, June 28th through July 7th, 2018.