Ranked as the world’s largest jazz festival in the Guinness World Records, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal has been synonymous with a passion for music for nearly 40 years. Every year for 10 days, the French-speaking metropolis of North America becomes the venue where fans of all types of jazz-related music rub shoulders with aficionados of jazz in its purest form. All on a unique site designed to meet festival goers’ every need, right downtown in an area off-limits to car traffic! Montreal is without a doubt the true heartbeat of Planet Jazz!
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal was founded in 1979 by Alain Simard in association with André Ménard, Denyse McCann and Alain de Grosbois, with the purpose of bringing the best musicians on the planet to the public. A non-profit organization since 1981, its mandate is to popularize jazz and its related musical forms thanks to its free outdoor shows and its wide diffusion, in addition to being a major tourist attraction for Montreal and a springboard for its musicians.
A peek into past lineups reveals artists sourced from the cream of the international jazz scene, with numerous forays into R&B, rock, and world music. If you think this sounds like stretching the parameters of what should be allowed in a jazz fest, you’re not alone; a rather loose definition of what constitutes jazz is one of the controversial sticking points that continues to dog the festival.
In the past, headliners have included Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Costello, Sting, Leonard Cohen and Prince. Habib Koite and Ben Harper, among many others, tipped their hats for the 2014 fest.