Montreal’s Other Jazz Festival

Graphic Eric Bent

With a host of local and imported talent, the OFF Jazz festival will be returning to Montreal this fall for its 12th annual edition. Taking place at nine local music venues across the city, OFF Jazz will consist of 27 concerts from 180 musicians of local, national and international fame.

“We invite spectators and musicians to rediscover their inner child,” said festival president Christophe Papadimitriou. “Rediscover freshness, spontaneity, audacity and of course, creativity.”

Founded in 1999, OFF Jazz has grown to become a festival that promotes free expression, creativity and musicality, and as a result has been the jump-off point for many outstanding collaborations.

The 12th edition promises a wealth of passion, spontaneity and zaniness, to be showcased at classic Montreal jazz haunts such as the Sala Rossa, the Casa del Popolo, the Cabaret du Mile-End and many others.

What’s going down this year:

Oct. 7 The festival kicks off at 8:00 p.m. with some classic renditions of Duke Ellington and Eric Dolphy from the Derome Guilbeault Tanguay Trio. Later on in the evening, Montreal’s definitive klezmer rapper Socalled will join Damien Nisenson’s trio for what should be an eclectic take on free jazz improvisation meets hip-hop.

Oct. 8 Saturday’s shows will feature the compositional and technical wizardry of French composer, improviser and upright bass player Joelle Leandre, who will be joined by the Ensemble Supermusique, a collection of renowned artists from France, Belgium and Toronto.

Oct. 9 The weekend wraps up at the Upstairs Jazz Bar with two intimate concerts. First, pianist Marianne Trudel leads her trio in a sonic hybrid of jazz, classical and world music. Later, Toronto pianist Tania Gill presents compositions from her acclaimed first album Bolger Station, a mix of expressive jazz and free-improvisation.

Oct. 11 Tuesday will feature a “rencontre cinema et musique” at the Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur with live audio-visuals from filmmakers and artists Jean Detheux and Pierre Hebert joined by music from Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay from the DGT trio and Jean-Phillipe Collard-Neven on the piano. Gracing the Casa Del Popolo stage at 11:30 is D’Harmo, a unique quartet whose 4-harmonica sound makes for a stunning blend of classical, jazz and klezmer music like nothing heard before.

Oct 12 More than 60 choir members and musicians will be joining together Wednesday at the Saint-Viateur d’Outremont church for the Element Choir Project, a monstrous collaborative effort led by singer Christine Duncan and percussionist Jean Martin.

Oct 13 On Thursday evening, La Sala Rossa will host Other Voices, an ensemble formed by Montreal drummer-composer Thom Gossage, as they present music from their forthcoming sixth album Ic et Ubique, making this show its official launch. Across the street at Casa del Popolo, the Sage Reynolds quintet will be showcasing their blend of folky jazz, Turkish and African music.

Oct 14 Saxophone enthusiasts will be in attendance Friday at La Sala Rossa for the Remi Bolduc ensemble featuring sax legends Jerry Bergonzi and Phil Dwyer on tenor saxophone. For fans of the dissonant and experimental, the Maikotron Unit will be filling the Casa del Popolo stage with their mysterious and dark brand of free jazz.

Oct 15 The Festival wraps up Saturday with a performance from an all-star ensemble of trumpeters, saxophonists, pianists, bassists and percussionist/drummers as well as a wrap party featuring jazz DJ’s Andy Williams and Sweet Daddy Luv, who will gracefully bring a week of expression, zaniness and musical collaboration to a groovy halt.

This year especially, OFF Jazz Festival organizers are looking to get a great youth crowd out to as many shows as possible. For those interested, a complete festival passport for students costs $60 and gives access to every concert. Check out for a full listing of ticket prices, concerts, venues and artists, and get OFF!