It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Late Plane to Cry

Bonjour Montreal! I made it*

My Thursday itinerary for the Montreal International Jazz Festival called for arriving at the Montreal airport at 6:15, and getting to the hotel in plenty of time to make Christian McBride’s show with his new funk band, at 8 pm at the Monument-National, a beautifully appointed theater built in 1893.

Worst case, I’d miss the opening act, Canadian trumpeter Rachel Therrien, and roll into the hall at 8:45 or so. Or, Plan C: I could at least get to the free-admission Le Studio TD nightclub for the 10 pm start of guitarist Julian Lage‘s trio with Scott Colley and Dave King of The Bad Plus.

Alas, contemporary air travel woes intervened. My Air Canada connecting flight from Toronto was scrubbed for some reason or another (cancellations are the name of the game these days, unfortunately). I got on another one scheduled to leave about an hour later, but its takeoff was delayed because of extra time needed to load baggage. Or something. The luggage claim area in Montreal was a zoo, and it took me about 45 minutes waiting at the carousel to get my bag.

By the time I got to Hotel Faubourg Montreal, a quite pleasant place within a very short walking distance of festival venues, and checked in and quickly changed shirts, it was after 10:30. Plan B: Catch the last minutes of the Lage concert.

I passed by the venue where McBride was playing, saw many happy folks streaming out (insert my sad face here), and got to Club TD about 5 minutes before Lage’s set was scheduled to end.

The good news: They played longer than scheduled, and did an encore. So I heard about half an hour’s worth of good stuff — the gorgeous guitar sounds, synchronicity and fearless soloing of one free-minded tune, and a beautiful rendition of Johnny Mercer’s classic ballad “Emily.”

More, please!

Today’s schedule of definites and possibles: Singers Gregory Porter and Corinne Bailey Rae (separately), and celebrated Swedish pianist Tord Gustavsen’s trio.

Stay tuned, and look out for my full magazine review of the fest.

Philip Booth, a writer and bass player based in Tampa, Florida, covers music, film and the arts for Jazziz, JazzTimes, Relix, Jazzlands, Philip’s Flicks and other publications. He was the pop music critic for the late, great Tampa Tribune, and also has contributed to The Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, Billboard, Variety, and DownBeat, as well as several academic journals. The 42nd edition of the fest marks his seventh visit to Montreal to write about the event for various press outlets.


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