A June 30 at FIJM: Buddy Guy, Avishai Cohen Trio, Mark Guiliana Quartet, Snarky Puppy…

par Rédaction PAN M 360

At the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, PAN M 360’s experts attend all the concerts that shake up music lovers. Follow our team!

Buddy Guy Keeps The Blues Alive at FIJM

Buddy Guy at FIJM / Benoit Rousseau


At 86-years-old, Buddy Guy conveyed to a sold-out crowd at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier why he is a revered OG blues legend, during the FIJM. After an hour of the young opener, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram—who is taking up the mantle left by guys like Buddy Guy—the legend himself walked slowly onto the stage in jean overalls and a polka dot shirt. His voice still sounds as pure and soulful as the day he started—as if he’s leading the crowd through a religious sermon. But instead of god, he’s preaching the blues, the very thing he is somewhat responsible for popularizing and really keeping alive in the last few years. “They’ve stopped playing this kind of blues music in the States and I’m not sure why,” Buddy Guy said in a hushed tone to the crowd. “And those hip-hoppers get to swear on the radio so, now I’m like, well shit, I gotta start swearing at my shows.”

On the stage, Buddy Guy is part comedian, gyrating and thrusting into his guitar, perfectly making his guitar sound like it’s crying or laughing. He’s still got the same charisma you’d expect from Buddy Guy. He could have easily sat in a chair and no one could fault him, but no, he moved across the stage, cracked jokes at the expense of the crowd—a real showman. And he’s still got the chops, soloing like a bored god with an in-the-red guitar tone and sound. During the blues standard “How Blue Can You Get,” he stopped halfway saying “I don’t want anyone saying ‘Oh I came to the show and it was good, but he didn’t play this or that.'” He then busted out a one-minute version John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” and followed it up with Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” perfectly parroting the distinctive guitar styles. The night ended on a high when he brought out the Kingfish for a jam, but Buddy Guy let the young 24-year-old take the spotlight as he sang “Cheaper to Keep Her.”

“Ladies and gentlemen I remember being in Mississippi and hearing this young man play and thinking ‘Hmm I gotta do something bout that,'” Buddy said to the crowd. This is indeed the farewell tour of Buddy Guy, but I get the sense that he will never stop playing, never stop preaching the blues, or finding the next crop of young talent. “Bye Montreal, I’ll see y’all next time.” Sure Buddy. See you then.

Stephan Boissonneault

The Avishai Cohen trio // Benoit Rousseau

Avishai Cohen Brings The Shifting Sands

For fans of Avishai Cohen, the last two years of the festival have been a special two years. Avishai was scheduled to perform with his trio last year but, at the last minute, his pianist was unable to make the show. To his credit, Avishai made the best of the situation and performed an intimate set of Israeli folk songs with him singing and playing piano, as well as playing some duo with the phenomenal drummer Roni Kaspi. This year, Avishai returned to the Théâtre Maisonneuve and delivered what was first promised and more.

The night was brimming with anticipation, and the band played through a setlist of crowd favorites like “Seven Seas,” “Dreaming,” and “Beyond.” The trio featured some material from their latest album, Shifting Sands, but catered the show as a showcase that everyone could enjoy. The sound and lighting team did a really wonderful job creating a sense of atmosphere.

At times it felt like the group may as well be the Roni Kaspi Trio since she seemed to take much of the limelight. Her solos were consistently thrilling and had everyone at the edge of their seats, and during one particular solo, there was a standing ovation while she was playing!

Varun Swarup

Mark Guiliana ,The sound of Listening and more Mischief

photo credit : Benoît Rousseau

The Gesù was sold out for Mark Guiliana’s quartet, an excellent choice in FIJM’s 2023 program.

Relocated to the West Coast with his partner Gretchen Parlato and their son, Guiliana continues the journey across an acoustic plateau begun in the middle of the previous decade. Important was this impression of a musical language freed from its founding evidences.

Having dazzled us in the days of Beat Music, an electro-jazz ensemble with which he allowed himself brief returns, Mark Guiliana chose acoustic instrumentation several years ago.

The line-up here was highly cohesive, comprising tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby (also an excellent clarinettist, but not on this evening), bassist Chris Morrissey and pianist Jason Lindner. One might have expected to hear Shai Maestro, who plays in the same band on the superb recordings The Sound of Listening and Mischief, but it was Lindner who offered up his circumspect, refined playing.

Based on Guiliana’s very particular playing style and tastes, this acoustic quartet has acquired a maturity of expression that few ensembles of this type achieve. The whole spectrum of emotions is soberly covered, but there is room for more testosterone and adventure. 

We find ourselves in movements comparable to the acoustic ensembles of David Binney or Brian Blade, that is to say, formations that are clearly jazz for their swing augmented by very contemporary rhythmic cells. The same is true for melody and harmony, i.e., there are enough consonant lines for us to be willing to admit certain more learned passages.

A pure delight.

Alain Brunet

Snarky Puppy, as expected…

For over fifteen years, bassist and composer Michael League has been building his career through the web and other means once considered parallel or indies when he starded. Today, it’s said to have become an inescapable way of building a career. Today, Michael League’s main vehicle, Snarky Puppy, is a must-see, filling 2000+ capacity venues wherever it lands.

MTELUS was obviously packed on Friday night, and it was an evening of full-on groove fusion, with wind section, two sets of keyboards including a Hammond B3, guitar, violin, bass and percussion. In short, a lot of restless people on a restless stage.

Snarky Puppy is renowned for its jazzy groove crossovers, its unifying melodic themes and its ample shapes with relatively demanding bridges for its performers. Generally speaking, this music is good for partying, lifting elbows while “czech la passe”, and offers just enough virtuoso pretension to delight some more seasoned music lovers.

That’s about it… as expected.

Alain Brunet

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