Festival international de jazz de Montréal

Festival international de jazz de Montréal (FIJM). Canada's largest music festival, and one of the leading jazz events in the world. It was established in 1980 by Alain Simard and André Ménard of Spectra Scène Ltée and held July 2 to 10 on the site of Man and his World on Île Ste-Hélène. After its incorporation in 1981 on a non-profit basis as the Festival international de jazz de Montréal, Inc (Simard, president; Ménard, vice-president), it moved to the Expo Theatre and also employed the Club Montreal downtown and Hotel Nelson in Old Montreal. In 1982 it was relocated on St-Denis St, employing the St-Denis Theatre, the UQAM, Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, and several street-corner stages, as well as the former Club Montreal, now known as the Spectrum.

A second site was established in 1986 on Ste-Catherine St adjacent to PDA. The two sites continued in tandem until 1989. The FIJM was consolidated in and around PDA in 1990. A dozen venues were used in 1991, including the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier and Théâtre Maisonneuve of PDA, the Spectrum, the Théâtre du Nouveau-Monde, Church of St John the Evangelist, and seven outdoor stages.

The FIJM grew from 7 concerts (12 ensembles) in 1980 to some 300 concerts (involving 2000 musicians) in 1990, by which time the festival's annual budget exceeded $5 million. The outdoor concerts are free to the public and the combined free and paid attendance for the 10th anniversary (1989) reached 1 million over 10 days, including more than 100,000 for the festival's fourth-annual 'grand événement,' a single concert by the Pat Metheny Group on McGill College Ave. Other artists to appear in the 'grand événement' (held 1986-8 near PDA on Ste-Catherine St and as of 1990 on René-Lévesque Blvd) include Chuck Mangione (USA, 1986), Urban Saxophone (France, 1987), Johnny Clegg and Savuka (South Africa, 1988), Celia Cruz (Cuba, 1990), and Buckwheat Zydeco (USA, 1991).

For its size and stylistic breadth, the FIJM has been hailed as one of the finest - in some minds, the finest - jazz festival in the world. As programmed by Ménard and David Jobin, the FIJM has presented a catholic mix of music that has included Latin and African music, pop, blues and blues rock, cajun, and reggae, as well as jazz in its traditional forms. The festival's international flavor has been supported by the presence each year of musicians from Europe, Africa, Central and South America, as well as the USA and Canada. Most of its indoor presentations have been recorded by CBC radio, many performances at the St-Denis Theatre, PDA and the Spectrum have been captured on video for CBC and foreign telecast, and concerts by Air, Dave Brubeck, Ahmad Jamal, Oliver Jones, the Podium Trio, and others have been released on record.

In 1982 the festival established the Concours de jazz de Montréal (the Concours de jazz Yamaha 1983-4, Concours de jazz Bose in 1985, the Concours de jazz Alcan 1987-90). Organized on a local basis 1982-5 and (in co-operation with CBC radio) nationally 1986-90, the juried competition for Canadian ensembles was won by Michel Donato (1982), the Montreal quintet Quartz (1983), Lorraine Desmarais (1984), the Montreal pianist François Bourassa (1985), Jon Ballantyne (1986), Hugh Fraser (1987), the Edmonton Jazz Ensemble (1988), and the Vancouver quintets Fifth Avenue (1989) and Creatures of Habit (1990). Prizes included the release of a recording by, in turn, Spectra Scène (Donato, Quartz), the CBC's Jazzimage (laureates 1984-9) and Justin Time (Creatures of Habit). In 1991 the competition was supplanted by the Prix de jazz Alcan, won by the Montreal pianist Steve Amirault in its first year.

In 1989 the FIJM introduced the Prix Oscar-Peterson for Canadian musicians of international renown. It was awarded to its namesake in 1989, to Oliver Jones in 1990, and to UZEB in 1991.

Simard (b Montreal 19 Jan 1950) and Ménard (b Montreal 8 Dec 1953), major figures in the Quebec pop music industry, also own the Spectrum, Spectel Vidéo, and Audiogram Records, and in 1991 through Spectel and Audiogram, purchased Le Studio at Morin Heights, Que. Ménard was president 1989-91 of ADISQ.