Friday, July 1, 2016

At Montreal Festival: Gregory Porter, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

HEART-BREAKING SONGS: Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter and his quartet performing on Wednesday night in Montreal's Theater Maisonneuve, above and below.

Editor's note: On our visit to Montreal for the annual jazz festival, we eat, sightsee and catch free concerts during the day, then go to see and hear today's giants of jazz at night.


MONTREAL -- American jazz singer Gregory Porter spoke to the audience and responded to their standing ovation with encores on the opening night of this city's 37th edition of the International Jazz Festival.

In contrast, trumpet colossus Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra filed onto the stage and started playing, but the leader didn't introduce the group until later.

Maybe he was upset the emcee introduced him as "Winston Marsalis."

Marsalis also ignored a raucous standing ovation, and the only encore he provided was playing his horn with the rhythm section after the rest of the band members had left the stage.

On the opening night of the International Jazz Festival on Wednesday, Porter and his quartet delivered emotional songs -- most of them originals -- about heartbreak and injustice to an enthusiastic audience in Theatre Maisonneuve.

An official also presented the festival's annual Ella Fitzgerald Award to Porter.

Birth of the cool

On Thursday night, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra filled a much larger venue, Maison Symphonique de Montreal, but the performance lacked warmth.

Some of that had to do with the stage lights being left on throughout the performance.

Marsalis did mention the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra had been created in the spirit of Duke Ellington, and that members of the Ellington family were seated in the hall.

But he spent more time speaking to them than trying to engage the rest of the audience.

OVERSTAYED HER WELCOME: Soul and funk singer Jaime Woods opening for Gregory Porter with a repertoire of her own songs, but some audience members felt she spent too much time on the stage.

HARSH LIGHTING: Leader Wynton Marsalis kept his seat in the trumpet section as he introduced his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra interpretations of Ellington's "Braggin' In Brass," "Dead Man's Blues" and other selections.

DISAPPOINTED AUDIENCE: Despite cheers and a standing ovation from the audience, Marsalis allowed most of the orchestra to leave the stage without performing an encore.

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