Reunion evening at the FIJM

At 9.45 p.m. last night, on the first day of the Montreal International Jazz Festival (FIJM), Beyries and her orchestra took to the same large stage as the one erected two years and two months ago at the north end of the Place des Festivals. Seen from afar, it was a jazz festival like the ones before, with music resuming its rights in the city center. Seen from the stage, however, it must have been a different sensation: instead of the tens of thousands of spectators that the jazz festival normally attracts, two or three thousand pairs of ears at most, separated into zones and by a meter. distance between them.

The singer-songwriter didn’t mind. Rather delighted, she even seemed, invited to play in front of what must have been her biggest audience in eighteen months. Its pianist and drummer even gave a jazz color to the orchestrations of the first song of the program, a way to greet the return of the cherished festival, despite the restrictions.

Likewise, composer Mathieu David Gagnon seemed touched to be on the large outdoor stage of the FIJM to present his instrumental project Flore laurentienne. Him on keyboards and synths, accompanied by two other keyboardists and a string quartet, he took over the body of his album Volume 1 (released in the fall of 2019), slipping during the first half of his concert a few new pieces and more densely furnished with electronic sounds, pieces that will probably be found on this new album that he has just finished recording.

It felt good to reconnect with the festival, even without the surrounding excitement. Because it was impossible for us to ignore the sanitary measures put in place which temper the ambitions of the festival. There are only two stages, that of the Place des Festivals and that of the Parterre symphonique further east, to which must be added the tiny planted rue Sainte-Catherine, in front of the steps of the square of the Place des Arts. It presents modest but warm unannounced shows – blues guitarist Paul DesLauriers played there in the early evening, accompanied by his bassist (Alec McElcheran, if I am not mistaken) and singer Annika Chambers, who offered a lesson in Texan blues to the relaxed audience. in the steps.

Outside the enclosed stages, no bar or hot dog vendors. In the streets between the scenes, more or less animation. The busiest booths were those where festival-goers collected their “vaccine accreditation”. The organization adopted the same procedure tested by the Emerging Music Festival of Abitibi-Témiscamingue two weeks ago: the spectator must validate his vaccination passport in exchange for a bracelet giving him access to concerts for which he must have previously had reserved its place on the festival site.

However, if the majority of festival-goers had reserved their free ticket, it was always possible to obtain one on site, for example at the ticket office located on boulevard de Maisonneuve, west of rue Saint-Urbain, where an attendant with a computer distributed the places still free at the various concerts of the evening. Thus, at 5:15 p.m. at the Parterre symphonique, nobody was turned away: the audience was sparse at the end of the grayish day during the solid concert of Yannick Rieu and his quintet presenting the material of the album. MachiNation.

At aperitif time, at the opening of the 41st edition of the FIJM, Rieu and his men served us an electric jazz that the first rows of the floor enjoyed sitting on the lawn. It was still early, the festival-goers had not yet all left the office while the quintet played us an escape music. With this little moment of grace as the festival sometimes knows how to use it: at the stroke of 6 p.m., while Dan Thouin was performing a precious solo on the piano, the bells of the neighboring church decided to accompany him for a few minutes. The saxophonist Rieu was delighted at the time of greetings, at the end of the concert: everything has been done to make us experience a great jazz concert.

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