Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jazz, food, city views and more vacation photos from Montreal

A man on stilts amusing the crowd during Montreal's annual International Jazz Festival, widely acknowledged as the best in the world. The 11-day festival -- the French Canadian city's 35th -- wrapped up on July 6. 

There are free and ticketed performances 12 hours a day outdoors, in clubs, and in small and large concert spaces. This group gave a free concert of New Orleans jazz.

Every style of vocal and instrumental jazz, blues and funk can be heard at free concerts, such as this one by a big band.

Montreal pianist and composer Alain Lefevre and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances from West Side Story" and other compositions on June 26 in a packed Maison Symphonique, drawing standing ovations. Members of the orchestra tuned up before the concert, above. The hall opened in 2011.

Lefevre also performed as part of a jazz trio. On July 1, I heard jazz pianist Brad Mehldau in a solo concert at Maison Symphonique.

Jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves wowing the audience on June 27 in Theatre
Maisonneuve, one of the major concert halls grouped together on the Place des Arts, similar to Lincoln Center in Manhattan.

A singer named Buika, an African woman who was born in Spain and now lives in Miami, performing with her flamenco-inspired trio on June 29 in Theatre Maisonneuve. Her many fans in the audience sang along with her. On July 1, we returned to the same hall for a wonderful concert by jazz singer Stacey Kent, a New Jersey native.

The Little School of Jazz entertaining children and their parents at one of their daily performances inside Complexe Desjardins, above and below, part of a vast underground network of malls, supermarkets, office buildings, hotels and subway stations in Montreal.

Ty Tyler, vocalist with the soul band Vintage Trouble, is the reincarnation of James Brown, and he packed them in for a free outdoor concert on July 1 that saw him leave the stage and climb one of the light and camera towers in the plaza.
Diana Ross, above and below, gave a sold-out concert on July 3 in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, but her strong voice often was drowned out by her big band, which included a Latin percussionist. She sang only one song from "Lady Sings the Blues," the 1972 film in which she played jazz singer Billie Holiday.

Diana Ross also didn't address the audience very much, in contrast to her daughter, Rhonda Ross, who opened for her with a small band and three back-up singers. Rhonda Ross spoke in perfect French to the mostly French-speaking audience and sang half of a song in that language, drawing a roar of approval.

A free concert and an appreciative audience on a mild evening in Montreal's Place des Arts, above and below, as seen from the terrace of the Hyatt Regency, the headquarters hotel for the annual festival.

Bistro SAQ is one of the pop-up restaurants on festival grounds.
Montreal has a visible homeless population. Not far from where this man was sleeping downtown, another homeless man in heavily stained clothing was reaching into the large garbage cans inside a Burger King, searching for something edible. We saw a young woman in baggy skinny jeans panhandling drivers stopped on University Street.

Bicycle lanes downtown carry two-way traffic, in contrast to those in Manhattan. The island of Montreal is larger than Manhattan island, but fewer people live there and traffic congestion never approaches the nightmarish proportions in New York.

This 1985 sculpture, called "The Illuminated Crowd," draws a lot of attention from pedestrians in downtown Montreal. 

One of the entrances to Montreal's Chinatown, which seems to have as many Vietnamese restaurants as Chinese ones. One restaurant we wanted to visit was Orange Rouge, which serves Thai, Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes at 106 De La Gauchetiere ouest, but we ran out of time.

Want Chinese roast duck for dinner?

One of the many Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown, below.

Montreal's Jean Talon Market is the only one I know that offers free samples of fruits and vegetables, but no toothpicks.

Prince Edward Island oysters on the half-shell are $2.50 to $3 Canadian each, if you want to eat them at this counter in Jean Talon.

Across from the oyster bar, a fish market offers live lobsters for $10.99 Canadian a pound and also sells fried smelts and other seafood that can be eaten at picnic tables.

Restaurants, charcuteries and other food shops line streets surrounding Jean Talon.

Hanging flower pots and street signs in Montreal's Outremont section, near Vanhorne, a restaurant with "cuisine du marche" or "cooking from the market."

A Vietnamese restaurant outside of Chinatown.

One of two large electric fireplaces at a McDonald's in a service area on Route 15, not far from Saint Sauveur, Quebec.

A World Cup-themed Big Mac, which contains mystery meat in any language. McDonald's is the "official restaurant" of the FIFA World Cup, the international soccer competition.

Travelers line up to order at McDonald's.

Hotel de Ville or City Hall in Old Montreal.

Old Montreal slopes down to the Saint Lawrence River, below.

From Old Montreal, tourists can see the island where a Formula 1 race is held every June. It can be reached by Montreal's Metro or subway.
Metro cars run on rubber tires, making them quieter inside and out than Manhattan's subway, though Montreal's system isn't as extensive. A single ride costs $3 Canadian.

Eaton Center downtown is one of the city's enclosed malls linked by the subway.
A passageway in Complexe Desjardins, which includes a mall, food court, hotel, office buildings, major concerts halls and a subway station, Place des Arts. On July 2, I heard jazz pianist Randy Weston and saxophonist Billy Harper in Cinquieme Salle, a small concert space off of this passageway. Weston, who was heavily influenced by trips to Africa, told the audience nature was the first orchestra.

A valet parking attendant in the Complexe Desjardins, which has a multilevel garage with about 1,000 spaces.

The KPMG Tower in downtown Montreal.

A church spire reflected in glass sheathing an office building.

A sign on a Montreal hospital. Cardiac teams have their work cut out for them in view of the rich French diet. In some restaurants, servers are amused when you ask for food cooked without artery clogging butter and cream, assuring you only "a little is used." 


  1. Trending Now: Food Blogger Crashes Internet With Plethora of Pictures!

    1. I had more, like the line of cars at the border. That's editing.


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