Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Festival Experience- Montreal Jazz Festival Day 2

July 1st, was Canada Day. I was born in Ottawa, Ontario and although I live in Massachusetts now I am still a citizen of Canada. Sometimes I forget that I am Canadian, but today at the Montreal Jazz Festival, I felt completely connected with the people of Canada, not just because I am a citizen, but because we all share a free spirited love of music.

A Festival Experience- Montreal Jazz Festival Day 2

Today was indeed a very free spirited day. My father and I went out for lunch outside and the weather, although very hot, was gorgeous. Then I went to visit the press room and I ran into Fred Taylor from Scullers Jazz Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He explained his level of excitement over all of the talented artists at the festival.

Afterwards, I went back to my hotel, and within ten minutes I met organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ghanian percussionist Abass Dodoo and bassist Alec Dankworth from Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion, and I ran into Christian Sands from the Christian McBride Trio. 

I saw Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion last Sunday, June 29 at Wilbur Theater in Boston so it was out of this world to run into part of the band and explain how much I loved the show. Also, I had met Christian Sands in May when I saw the Christian McBride Trio at Scullers Jazz Club, so I was happy when he remembered me and my blog. 

Meeting Abass Dodoo and Alec Dankworth

Meeting Dr. Lonnie Smith
Meeting Dr. Lonnie Smith was a very special moment for me. Smith was unbelievably kind, and supportive when I told him that I write about what it is like to be a teenager experiencing jazz. He said I was an "old soul" that has come back to complete something. Smith explained that we both share this, and he believes that we didn't choose music, music chose us. Smith continued to emphasize that I should avoid the naysayers that work only for money and dislike what they do. Smith added that he surrounds himself with beautiful people in order to lift himself up. And it is in moments like this, with people like Dr. Lonnie Smith, that I am reassured that living a life of music and for music is worthy and needed in this world.

After these encounters my father and I walked around the streets, and listened to some of the free concerts, and later had dinner at one of the many great Montreal restaurants. 

Black sesame and green tea ice cream
One swing band was was particularly heartwarming, and made me so genuinely happy. There is something special when music can bring you to tears. Not because it makes you sad, or you even want to cry, but because it moves you so much that you just cry.

This swing band was set up to sound like an old time Louis Armstrong style band. They were playing all these old songs, with such gusto and energy that a couple of ladies started dancing. After a few songs of seeing these ladies swing dance, I saw this man in a wheelchair join their dancing circle and the ladies started dancing with him. He was doing tricks on his wheelchair, spinning, and having a blast, and well, I just thought that was so beautiful. People always talk about how jazz is music for the people, and how it is inclusive, but to actually witness the beauty of people that never met, dancing like that- that is something else. That is why I want to be a musician.

A Montreal Swing Band

A free outside concert with "When the Saints Go Marching In":

Afterwards, I went to Metropolis to see the reggae band "Burning Spear". I must admit that I have not listened to a lot of reggae music, but I am so happy that I heard it this past night! The concert was basically one giant dance party, and I had a blast dancing back and forth to the music. Reggae music is very danceable, with a strong beat, and peaceful, catchy lyrics that bring people together. And on this Canada Day, everyone was brought together in dancing to the beat.

The saxophonist from "Burning Spear"

Following "Burning Spear", I went to see "Vintage Trouble", which is an American blues and rock band. Vintage Trouble had a very retro sound, and was extremely upbeat. The vocalist Ty Taylor led the crowd through many sing alongs, and constantly encouraged the audience to dance to the music. The lyrics of the songs were inspiring, and Taylor reminded to audience to remember that they are loved.

The outdoor "Vintage Trouble" concert

Final Thoughts: 
I have met so many wonderful people, and have witnessed such a wide array of music at the Montreal Jazz Festival. On this Canada Day I felt more Canadian than I ever have, just by dancing, singing, and listening to music along with so many people. And on this day I truly understand the quote that everyone says but so many less experience: Music truly does bring people together. 

More detailed reviews of concerts and experiences are forthcoming.

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