Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let the music play (Part 3)

The scene in Montreal
The Montreal jazz festival is the largest on the world. With hundreds of concerts over the course of ten days, the festival draws a huge roster of artists and thousands of international visitors.

I have heard about it for years, mostly in terms of the musical legends. Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays recorded "The Way Up" in a live concert here a few years back, drawing well over 100,000 fans for one downtown concert. I have the DVD of the show and remember being stunned by the sheer size of the crowd.

The music is eclectic, scanning a wide range of musical tastes. The festival does not back away from adventurous programming, either; that's part of why I was drawn to attend. The Syracuse Jazz Festival, also about to open, has booked the Doobie Brothers as the opening act. Having just heard them, they are hardly a jazz group, but the booking ensures a big attendance. Ah, the economics of the arts! The presence of a popular band helps to finance the lesser-known acts. We can hope it's about the music, not merely the money.

Last night we heard an extraordinary singer named Kelly Lee Evans. The crowd was swaying on a balmy night. We sat on stone steps in a city square to enjoy the music. There is something about Montreal that seems very inviting about the arts. People seem quite open, well informed, and unwilling to merely consume the music that some marketer tells them to enjoy. I like the open spirit of this place.

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