Press release for immediate distribution

2010 Festival Awards

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal honours
Smokey Robinson, The Manhattan Transfer, Sonny Rollins, Richard Bona, Herman Leonard,
Don Thompson,
and presents a special award to Dave Brubeck

Montreal, Monday, May 17, 2010 - This year, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal highlights the exceptional contributions to music made by Smokey Robinson, The Manhattan Transfer, Sonny Rollins, Richard Bona and Don Thompson, as well as the remarkable oeuvre of Herman Leonard. During this 31st edition of the Festival, our winners will be presented, respectively, with the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award, Ella Fitzgerald Award, Miles Davis Award, Antonio Carlos Jobim Award, Oscar Peterson Award and Bruce Lundvall Award. What’s more, this year, the Festival trains a special spotlight on the remarkable oeuvre of legend Dave Brubeck, celebrating his 90th birthday in December, by presenting him with a special-issue Miles Davis Award.

Special issue Miles Davis Award: Dave Brubeck

Before Dave Brubeck, jazz was essentially an East Coast affair: New Orleans, Chicago, New York… Enter a pianist, in late ’40s San Francisco, who would defy all conventions, integrating counterpoint, improvisation and polyphony in his distinctive style, with arrangements that would become his trademark, as well as the preserve of a new kind of jazz christened West Coast Cool. Brubeck would go on to enjoy a success that far surpassed the traditional parameters of jazz: look no further than Time Out (1959), the first jazz album to sell over one million copies. Through the succeeding decades, he has driven his career with the same energy and innovative spirit, collecting an array of honours and accolades: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Playboy Hall of Fame and the Downbeat Hall of Fame, honorary doctorates, and the creation of the Brubeck Institute by the University of the Pacific. And over 50 years into his career, this Festival favourite-certified as a “living legend” by the American Library of Congress-continues to amaze live audiences wherever he performs! Closing concert with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, presented as part of the Les Grands concerts series, July 5, 9 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA.

2010 Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award: Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson will be the fifth artist to receive the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award. Created especially on the occasion of the 27th edition of the Festival, in 2006, this special award underlines a popular artist’s extraordinary contribution to the musical world. His very first single accompanied by the Miracles, Got a Job, was released the day he turned 18. And 50 years later, Smokey Robinson-who Bob Dylan described as “the world’s greatest poet”!-is still going strong! Instantly recognizable: how else to describe his falsetto, and any one of the 27 hits he and the Miracles gift-wrapped for pop music, including Shop Around, Tears of a Clown and I Second that Emotion. But that’s just one facet of the career of the titan of American R&B: as vice-president of legendary Motown Records, he discovered, produced and wrote songs for legends like the Temptations and Marvin Gaye, including such classics as You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, covered by The Beatles, and My Girl. June 28, 7 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA as part of Les Événements spéciaux TD series. As a recipient of the Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award, Smokey Robinson follows in the footsteps of Stevie Wonder (2009) Leonard Cohen (2008), Bob Dylan (2007) and Paul Simon (2006).

2010 Ella Fitzgerald Award: The Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer are the 12th recipients of the Ella Fitzgerald Award, established in 1999 for our 20th anniversary and conferred in recognition of the versatility, improvisational originality and quality of repertoire of a jazz singer renowned on the international scene. Icons of American pop jazz singing for three decades, The Manhattan Transfer is an atypical vocal ensemble, with a panache synonymous with ’80s jazz and a sound so entwined with our culture that you can find yourself humming along to Birdland, Boy from New York City and Route 66 without even realizing it… Their musical adventure has endured nearly 40 years and racked up almost as many Grammys as Michael Jackson. The Manhattan Transfer has bridged eras and styles, while always maintaining a distinctive sound rooted in doo-wop. And after 37 years, they remain the equal of their extraordinary renown. The Manhattan Transfer will be performing on Saturday, June 26, 6 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA, as part of the En voix Rio Tinto Alcan series. In accepting the prize, The Manhattan Transfer will be following previous Ella Fitzgerald prizewinners John Pizzarelli (2009), Aretha Franklin (2008), Harry Connick, Jr., (2007), Etta James (2006), Al Jarreau (2005) Tony Bennett (2004), Bobby McFerrin (2003), Dianne Reeves (2002), Diana Krall (2001), Dee Dee Bridgewater (2000) and Diane Schuur (1999).

2010 Miles Davis Award: Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins will be the 17th recipient of the Miles Davis Award, created for our 15th anniversary in 1994 to honour a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom. A powerhouse player nicknamed “the Saxophone Colossus,” Rollins was strongly influenced by Charlie Parker and is an undeniable master of thematic and melodic improvisation-but also of musical exploration. He’s switched up styles and periods, opening up to electric instruments in the manner of an Ornette Coleman, next digging into calypso, funk, R&B or pop, or even playing on an album (Tattoo You) by the Rolling Stones! Add in the powerhouse blowing that gives his music its robust and muscular signature sound, as well as an incomparable register that in and of itself sums up the past few decades of jazz history, from be-bop to jazz fusion, and it’s clear that we’re dealing not simply with a tenor, but with a… Colossus! Sonny Rollins will be performing on June 27, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA, as part of Les Événements spéciaux TD series. Sonny Rollins is the latest in a series of Miles Davis prizewinners. He follows Ornette Coleman (2009), McCoy Tyner (2008), Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994).

2010 Antonio Carlos Jobim Award: Richard Bona

Richard Bona is the 7th recipient of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award, created for the Festival’s 25th anniversary to honour artists distinguished in the field of world music whose influence on the evolution of jazz and cultural crossover is widely recognized. Armed with his bass, Cameroon’s Richard Bona won swift entry to the most prestigious of musical circles: Salif Keita, Harry Belafonte, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis… In 2007, one year after the release of his 4th solo album, Tiki, he would deliver a most memorable series of shows at the Festival in the Invitation series-and will be welcomed back this year as MAnu Katché’s special guest. Routinely recognized as the most expert of musicians, Bona is an equally impressive composer, ingeniously blending the rhythms of his native land with those of jazz, imbuing the whole with a lyrical, reflective quality that is sensitive, touching and very personal. Richard Bona, The Ten Shades of Blues - July 2, 6 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA (En voix Rio Tinto Alcan series), June 30, 6 p.m., Gesù - Centre de créativité (Invitation series). As winner of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award, Richard Bona follows in the footsteps of Toots & The Maytals (2009), Gilberto Gill (2008), Angélique Kidjo (2007), Salif Keita (2006), Khaled (2005) and Ibrahim Ferrer (2004).

2010 Oscar Peterson Award: Don Thompson

Don Thompson is the 22nd artist to receive the Oscar Peterson Award, created on the 10th anniversary of the Festival in 1989 to salute a Canadian musician who has made outstanding contributions to jazz in this country and for the quality of his art. Pianist, bassist, percussionist and maestro of the vibraphone, Vancouver’s Don Thompson made his name in part thanks to his collaborations with such greats as Moe Koffman and Sonny Greenwich. An emblematic and even legendary figure in Canadian jazz, the self-taught musician has won attention and praise since the ’60s for his talents as a composer, instrumentalist and arranger. A performer who allies sophistication and elegance, he received many accolades, including Junos, the CBC National Jazz Award, the prix SOCAN…. As recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award, Don Thompson follows in the footsteps of Susie Arioli (2009), Dave Young (2008), François Bourassa (2007), Yannick Rieu (2006), Bernard Primeau (2005), Diana Krall (2004), Kenny Wheeler (2003), Lorraine Desmarais (2002), Moe Koffman (2001), Charles Biddle (2000), Maynard Ferguson (1999), Guy Nadon (1998), Rob McConnell (1997), Nelson Symonds (1996), Michel Donato (1995), Paul Bley (1994), Fraser MacPherson (1993), Vic Vogel (1992), UZEB (1991), Oliver Jones (1990) and, of course, Oscar Peterson (1989).

2010 Bruce Lundvall Award: Herman Leonard

Herman Leonard is the 2nd recipient of the Bruce Lundvall Award. In keeping with a tradition launched for the Festival’s 10th edition, and repeated every five years with the addition of a new prize, the Festival marked its 30th anniversary last year with the creation of the Bruce Lundvall Award, presented annually to the non-musician who has left a mark on the world of jazz or contributed to the development of the music, through the media, the concert or record industries. Herman Leonard studied under master photographer Yousuf Karsh-with the likes of Albert Einstein and Clark Gable as subjects. In 1949, he opened a studio in New York and struck up friendships with Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington… He served as Marlon Brando’s personal photographer, moved to Paris and worked as a fashion and advertising photographer, and for Playboy Magazine. In 1991, he settled in New Orleans, where he would become deeply involved in the city’s jazz scene. He has lived in California since 2005. The excellence and historical importance of his work have garnered him many awards and distinctions, along with this tribute from Quincy Jones: “When people think of jazz, their mental picture is likely one of Herman’s.” Truer words never spoken! As recipient of the Bruce Lundvall Award, Herman Leonard follows in the footsteps of the man whose name graces the trophy, Bruce Lundvall (2009).

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