25 acts to check out at the 2023 Montreal Jazz Festival
The 43rd edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival kicks off on June 28 and runs until July 9.
As with previous years, the festival is largely centered around Montreal's Quartier des Spectacles and features a mix of free programming and paid concerts.
Although the roster of acts and music genres is quite exhaustive, we've compiled a list of just some of the artists that are worth checking out this year.
June 29, 7:30pm @ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
Often described as one of the jazz guitar greats, George Benson has won 10 Grammys and hit triple platinum in 1976 with his album, Breezin'. He will be joined by Randy Waldman, Chris Walker and Mark Simmons.
June 30, 7pm + 9:30pm @ Upstairs Jazz
One of Montreal's most-talented performers, everything that Ranee Lee touches is gold: singing, songwriting, acting and storytelling. She celebrates her 35th year in Montreal with shows at Upstairs Jazz.
June 30, 7:30pm @ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
At 86 years old, Buddy Guy is a long way from the cotton plantations in Louisiana, where he spent most of his childhood. He has since been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys and a record 38 Blues Music Awards.
June 30, 8pm @ Monument National
Bebop, blue and jazz funk all come together in John Scofield's music. You don't get any more smooth or laid back than this.
June 30, 8:30pm @ Mtelus
Snarky Puppy could only be described as a formation of musical vagabonds who have all worked with the biggest names in jazz. They dip into a multitude of genres including jazz, funk and world beats.
Listen to music from George Benson, Buddy Guy, Snarky Puppy
Dawn Tyler Watson
July 1, 9pm + 11pm @ Rogers Stage (Free)
Canadian blues and jazz singer Dawn Tyler Watson made waves with her 2019 album Mad Love. She has since won over the hearts of Montrealers and rightfully earns a place at this year's festival.
Urban Science Brass Band
July 1, 11pm @ Club Montreal TD (Free)
This Montreal formation never ceases to impress -- they combine the energy of a New Orleans brass band along with some hip hop hits to create a massive party.
Tim Brady: Instruments of Happiness
July 2, 2-4pm @ La Grande Place du Complexe Desjardins (Free)
4 soloists and 4 conductors perform Tim Brady's Because really big jazz guitar chords: sound like this!... alongside 100 electric guitars! Contemporary meets jazz meets noise meets rock to create a full immersive experience!
July 2, 9:30pm @ TD Stage (Free)
Although he may be an odd fit for a jazz fest, Vance Joy is the perfect fit for a summer concert series. This Australian singer-songwriter has been a festival favourite worldwide with his folk-inspired pop songs.
The Heavyweights Brass Band
July 3-5, 5pm around Place des festivals (Free)
Catch "Canada's reigning champions of feel-good horn music" as they make their way around the outdoor Jazz Fest site.
July 3, 7:30pm @ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
Hancock's experimental nature is what distinguished him throughout his career. Having played around with jazz, funk and electro, he is largely credited with the birth of post-bop. Over the span of his career, he has won 14 Grammy Awards.
July 4+5, 7:30pm @ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
Named the second greatest jazz artist of the decade in the early 2000s, Krall has sold 15 million albums during the span of her career.
DOMi & JD Beck
July 4, 9:30pm @ TD Stage (Free)
This jazz duo gained prominence thanks to the internet. They have played alongside jazz legends including Herbie Hancock, Anderson .Paak, Thundercat and more. Their performance can only be described as eccentric, intricate with comedic elements.
July 5, 9:30pm @ TD Stage (Free)
Stephen Lee Bruner, better known as Thundercat, got his start as part of thrash metal band Suicidal Tendencies. He has since transitioned into a soul R&B and funk career and has garnered numerous accolades.
Listen to music from Herbie Hancock, DOMi & JD Beck, Thundercat
July 5, 10:30pm @ Le Gesù
Hailing from Cameroon, this singer-songwriter's music is all about heartwarming soul. If the name sounds familiar, you may have caught him performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or on La Voix.
July 5, 11pm @ Club Montreal TD (Free)
Pierre Kwenders has established himself as a singer, rapper and DJ performing in Lingala, French, English, Tshiluba, and Kikongo. His music has been described as a mix of Congolese rhumba and house music.
July 7, 6pm @ Le Gesù
Quebec prog rock and jazz fusion band, Maneige is back. Original members Alain Bergeron, Yves Léonard, Gilles Schetagne and Paul Picard take to the stage to play songs from Libre service, Ni vent ni nouvelle and Montréal 6 a.m.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
July 7, 7:30pm @ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
Rock meets country as this rather unique duo reign in their musical experience for a night of Americana-inspired songs.
July 7, 9pm @ Club Soda
This is one cool band -- TEKE::TEKE is a mix of Japanese surf rock and psych rock. An absolute spectacle to watch!
July 7, 9:30pm @ TD Stage (Free)
Soul, jazz and hip hop all come together with BADBADNOTGOOD. This Toronto formation has been gaining attention after putting their own jazz spin on big hip hop songs.
Christine and the Queens
July 8+9, 8:30pm @ Mtelus
July 8+9, 8:30pm @ Mtelus
Christine and the Queens' electronic pop touches on elements of identity and gender while drawing from influences like David Bowie, Laurie Anderson and Michael Jackson.
July 8, 8pm @ Rio Tinto Stage (Free)
Montreal's answer to soul, funk and R&B is a sure bet to get the crowd dancing. A local staple not to be missed.
Leslie Snooksta Alston et MaryDee: The best of Soul, Motown and Jazz
July 8, 8:30pm @ Le Balcon
Snooksta and MaryDee travel back in time to cover some of the biggest songs in Jazz -- from the early 30s to the days of Motown. Expect a setlist that includes songs by Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Frankie Valli.
July 8, 9+11pm @ Rogers Stage (Free)
One-man blues act Steve Hill plays a free show at this year's fest. Over the span of his 27 year career, Hill has played alongside greats like Ray Charles, B.B. King and ZZ Top.
July 8, 9:30pm @ TD Stage (Free)
July 8, 9:30pm @ TD Stage (Free)
With 10 albums under her belt and 5 Grammys, Macy Gray will be closing this year's festival with her infectious smile and soulful raspy vocals.