As summer fades into memory with these last few warm days of fall, L’Off Jazz, the little cousin of Jazz Fest emerges to remind us that every time is a good time for music. The festival started Friday October 3, and will continue on with almost two weeks of jazz in all its many forms. So long as a listener can let go of an attachment to big names, big venues, and the big prices such shows command, l’Off Jazz promises an incredible music experience with talented performers. Here are some of our picks for the upcoming shows.
Josh Rager & Donny Kennedy Octet
Love local? Think local. Pianist Josh Rager and saxophonist Donny Kennedy are two Montreal jazz giants who are bringing together eight to make a mighty sound of horns, double bass, piano and drums. Kennedy has been running a quartet that plays regularly around the city and teaches at McGill and Vanier. Likewise, Rager works at both. The two had been talking about starting a group together for years and finally have put together a nonet that recorded a few sessions in February. While the lineup playing at the L’Off Jazz is +/- a few of this nonet, they promise a mighty big band, swinging sound. Josh Rager and teh Donny Kennedy Octet play at Maison de la Culture Cote des Neiges at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday October 6. $20/15/10.
Feel the vibes on with the Jean Vanasse Quartet + 1
Who doesn’t love the percussive song of the vibes? This quartet headed by Jean Vanasse invites French vibraphone/marimba player Thierry Gomar to join their group. Gomar is world-renowned as an improvisor and for adding world music into his sound The result is two approaches coming together to explore the possible range when mallet meets metal. The Jean Vanasse Quartet + 1 plays at Sala Rossa on Wednesday October 8 at 8 p.m. $25/20.
Release an Album with a Juno Winner
Jazz vocalist Sonia Johnson won a Juno in 2012 for her album Le Carré de nos amours and her album Triades was nominated as well. She’s back with a new album Le coeur à l’endroit and listeners can catch the release at the Gesù. With her sense of poetry and soft touch, she’ll win more fans to her magic. Sonia Johnson releases her album at the Gesù on October 9 at 8 p.m. $30 includes album.
Close Orchestrations of the Third Kind
Ratchet Orchestra is as surprising as it is rational. This is music for intellectuals who like to see the expected crash headfirst into new territory in fun, kitschy paths. Combining horns with strings and percussion, one never quite knows what to expect from their compositions. This group is kind of wild, but in all good ways. Ratchet Orchestra plays at Cabaret du Mile End on Saturday October 11 at 8 p.m. $30/20
The Montreal l’Off Jazz #15 takes place from October 3 to October 12. For more information about tickets and shows, click HERE