The months of June and July are an embarrassment of riches for the Montreal jazz and improvised music fan. Victo just wrapped up; looking ahead we have the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival running through the whole month of June at sister venues La Sala Rossa and Casa del Popolo. As usual, this dovetails with the OFF Jazz Festival and of course the Montreal Jazz Festival. I should mention that Suoni is not exclusively a jazz festival, and there's a whole host of noise-tronica-avant-punk-folk things, but their jazz programming is uniformly stellar. I'll be covering Suoni for both Coda Magazine and Panpot, and I'll try to make as many OFF shows as possible. Here are my picks for both festivals.
Roswell Rudd & Mark Dresser (June 4, Sala) - small ensembles come off surprisingly well in the larger room. Witness last year's Ribot solo recital and William Parker & Hamid Drake's duo blowout. Mark Dresser was on faculty at the Banff Centre when I was there and elevated all the groups he played with. I've yet to see Rudd live and their duo record, Airwalkers, from last year was superb.
Tim Berne's Hard Cell (June 5, Sala) - I missed Tim Berne last year, and Taborn is one of my favourite pianists nowadays, rounded out with drummer Tom Rainey.
Nels Cline Singers (June 8, Sala) - I've been waiting to see this group in Montreal for years. With Scarnella (Carla Bozulich & Cline).
Sun Ra Arkestra (June 14, Sala) - people still talk about the last Arkestra appearance at Suoni years ago. If you missed it, like me, you must be there this year. Co-presented with OFF.
Barnyard Drama showcase (June 15, Sala) - featuring the Toronto improv collective (Christine Duncan - voice; Jean Martin - drums; Justin Haynes - guitar) with Montreal ringers Bernard Falaise (guitar), Gordon Allen (trumpet), Philippe Lauzier (reeds) and others. Another OFF co-presentation.
Matana Roberts' Mississippi Moonchile (June 17, Sala) - another workshop from the Coin Coin project with Montreal and NYC improvisers. Matana's music and thoughts always challenge my own.
Roscoe Mitchell (June 22, Sala) - 'nuff said. I don't think it's with Note Factory (who just played Victo), but it's ROSCOE MITCHELL! Word is he's also on a panel with George Lewis and Charity Chan.
Powerhouse Sound (June 27, Sala) - some of my favourite Chicago improvisers: Ken Vandermark, Nate McBride, Jeff Parker, and John Herndon.
Also: Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton (June 26, Sala); Vandermark's Free Fall (June 25, Sala); John Heward's Murray Street Band w/ Paul Flaherty (June 21, Casa); and Ambiances Magnetiques showcase (June 23, Sala).
Erik Hove's Soundclash (June 13, Dièse Onze) - Alto sax wizard with the eminently musical turntablist DJ P-Love.
Anna Webber Quartet (June 14, St-Ciboire) - an early (5 pm) show of bassless rockin' quartet. Indigone Trio's Philippe Melanson also plays drums here (he's MVP of the festival, playing in a bunch of different bands).
Mario Allard Quintet (June 15, St-Ciboire) - three-horn chordless quintet led by co-composers and saxophonists Mario Allard & J-F Fournel.
Jason Sharp's Ka Noo (June 15, Dièse Onze) - Jason's music is beautiful and spacious, equally texture-based and groove-oriented. Featuring Sharp on an Eastern European overtone flute called the fujara, and Phil Melanson once again.
June 16 - triple-booked! Bassist Pierre-Yves Martel's Quartetski takes on Satie at Lion D'Or, followed by Toronto trumpeter Lina Allemano's quartet, while Adam Miller's Jazz Warriors hit at Dièse Onze.
Miles Perkin's Common Thread (June 17, Lion D'Or) - if you missed his CD launch at O Patro Vys earlier this year, check out Perkin's textural masterpieces with Common Thread.
Chet Doxas - Le Mur (June 18, Lion D'Or) - what's with everybody writing for string quartet these days? Doxas is a player and composer to watch and has been for many years. This is his CD launch.
Turtleboy (June 21, St-Ciboire) - more bassless exploration with some good friends of mine.
Really, the whole festival is solid this year. Lots of my friends and colleagues are playing. There doesn't seem to be a weak show in the program.