John Roney (Rad-Can stage, 8 pm) - since moving from Toronto, Roney's been a fixture on the jazz scene here. A frequent sideman at the festival, he gets to present his own music this time.
Power Dam Initiative (L'Astral, 11:30, until June 28) - this jazzy, funky, Afro-inspired DJ crew will keep you dancing into the wee hours.
Ernesto Cervini (Rad-Can stage, 8 pm) - fantastic drummer/pianist/composer, from Toronto but who has spent some serious time in NYC. His two albums on Anzic have been deservingly well received.
Soul Rebels Brass Band (TD stage, 9 & 11 pm) - if you missed them last year as part of the New Orleans blow-out, do not make that same mistake again. The new school of brass band music from NOLA.
Joel Kerr (Rad-Can stage, 10 pm) - a McGill-trained bassist who's beginning to make some serious noise in the scene. I know him as a sideman, and I'm eager to check out his own work.
Boogat (Bell stage, 10 pm) - the ringleader of Nuvo Tumbao and the Esperanto Sound System, one of the leading figures of hip-hop en español aquí. ¡Dios Mio, que viva Montreal!
Efa Etoroma Jr. Trio (Rad-Can stage, 8 pm) - a young drummer, a new graduate of McGill, this is his trio featuring his compositions. He may be better known around town for his other group, the live hip-hop band Ruckus Fo'tet.
Galactic (TD stage, 9 & 11 pm) - heirs to the New Orleans funk throne, and the ultimate party-rockers.
Laila Biali (TD stage, 6 pm) - the pianist/vocalist from BC has been in New York these past few years. Her music has always been engaging.
Roberto Lopez Project (Bell stage, 8 pm) - the Colombian guitarist plays music off his last album, Soy Panamericano. He recently did a concert more overtly fusing "big band" jazz with traditional Colombian rhythms; this is more of a traditional cumbia/salsa party band.
Lucky Peterson (Loto-Québec stage, 9 & 11 pm) - a fantastic blues B3 player that I've been meaning to see for a while.
Parc-X Trio (TD stage, 6 pm) - my boys! They won the jazz festival prize last year, are launching a new album, and are three of the nicest dudes imaginable. Go support your local scene!
La Excelencia (TD stage, 9 & 11 pm) - "salsa dura" (hard salsa) from NYC, hearkening back to the classic Fania era. You know I'm not missing this.
Canicule Tropicale (L'Astral, 11:30 pm) - also my boys! DJs Philippe Noel, Don Pedro and Kobal bring all things Latin, Central & South American to your dancefloor.
Alex Côté (Rad-Can stage, 8 pm) - My colleague and co-arranger in Gary Schwartz's LettingO, Alex is a fantastic composer and saxophonist. Another frequent sideman at the festival who finally gets to present his own work.
Nomadic Massive (Savoy, midnight, until July 4) - You know them, you love them. Ambassadors of the Montreal multicultural hip-hop scene, my good friends and beautiful people. Get there ON TIME because Savoy packs up quickly - prepare to sweat.
Atomic 5 (Rad-Can stage, 8 pm) - a fresh bunch of McGill grads that just released their first album on Effendi. Their sonic sense belies their age, and they're all players full of promise.
Novalima (Bell stage, 8 & 10 pm) - Electronic groove music from Peru. Guitars and no less than three (!) cajóns. I saw them at Lion D'Or a few years ago and they were fantastic.
Fraser Hollins (Rad-Can stage, 10 pm) - the premier jazz bassist in town, another incredibly frequent sideman turned leader. He'll present music from his début album, Aerial.
Jean-Nicolas Trottier (Rad-Can stage, 8 pm) - a highly in-demand trombonist and arranger - outside of the jazz world, he's worked with Patrick Watson & Karkwa. His writing has been an inspiration for my own for years, and he is one of the best trombonists I've had the pleasure to play with.
Rael da Rima (Bell stage, 8 pm) - full disclosure: I played with Rael at Les Bobards, and at Serralheria in São Paulo. An ally of the Nomadic Massive crew, he plays a mix of reggae and hip-hop with an irrepressible Brazilian touch.
Khaira Arby (Bell stage, 8 pm) - if you only see one show at FIJM this year, make it this one. I discovered her powerful, evocative music on YouTube. The greatest Malian singer you haven't heard yet. I have no words to adequately describe her music and her strength. (edit: apparently Dan at Said the Gramophone does, though.)
And no, there is no official Festival jam session this year. I was told that this was a request from the technical committee - trying to do three different setups per night in L'Astral was not fun for them. With that I can sympathize. L'Astral wasn't really the right venue for it, either. There are a handful of jam sessions happening at Théâtre Ste-Catherine. No word yet on whether Upstairs will have a late-night jam or whether Vanessa Rodrigues will host her B3 hang again (edit: saxophonist Vincent Stephen-Ong tells me the organ jam is on at Brutopia). As much of a gong show as jam sessions can be, I think they're absolutely vital for the jazz community, especially during festival season when different artists from around the world are rolling through town.