Experiencing the Montreal International JazzFest - Day 1

Modern Mississauga is in Montreal for four days to experience the renowned Montréal International Jazz festival along with Brigitte Hasbron from The Food Tease. In this three-part series, we’ll be sharing our experiences with you.

It's road trip season and the great folks over at Tourisme Montreal invited Brigitte and I to spend a few days experiencing the Jazz Festival...so that's what we're up to this week.
Also, the fantastic folks at Ford Canada insisted (well, offered) a 2017 convertible, manual transmission Mustang GT to get us to and from.
The drive from Mississauga to Montreal was simply wonderful with the only traffic being experienced in downtown Montreal. With the top down and music up, the journey was one of the best drives we've had in recent years. Plush heated and cooled leather seats, 435 horsepower beneath the hood and perfect driving weather (sunny and high 20's) made for a delightful drive!

Let's start with a shot of the car and then we'll move on to the food and music portion.


Located in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, Blumenthal is a charming brasserie that provides its patrons to be front and center of the Montreal Jazz festival. Walking amongst the sea of people taking in the vibrant festival, Blumenthal provides the perfect vantage point for its guests with their two patios and open window views. Having dinner inside, my concern was the possibility of missing out on some of the high energy vibe that was surrounding the eatery, but Blumenthal took care of that. They had strategically placed television screens near the bar that broadcasted the live jazz performances playing outside, mere footsteps from where we were. A smart concept as diners can not only enjoy the sounds of the live performances, but now they can feel engaged as they enjoy their meal. 
Speaking of food, Blumenthal’s menu is very much French influenced (both Parisian and Quebec) with its diverse food options ranging from smoked duck poutine (who doesn’t enjoy a good poutine?) to the likes of beef tartar, savoury mussels (enjoyed by many while I was there) to hanger steaks with Miso butter. So, when in Rome… we started our Blumenthal experience with several appetizers to wet our appetites; a classic cheese course (blue, Riopelle (triple-cream cheese) and a subtle valbert (firm, half-cooked farm cheese), a savoury duck poutine and a very tasty kale cabbage Caesar salad with fried nordic shrimps. 
As for our mains, Jay enjoyed their grilled hanger steak served with green beans and asparagus served with fries. As for me I couldn’t resist tasting their classic steak tartar with fries. The tartar was spot on with its seasoning. You could taste the multitude of ingredients that led to the wonderful flavour and the placement of two additional pickles was the perfect accompaniment to this dish. 

Now no meal would be complete without dessert, so we had no choice but to indulge. I feasted on an insanely addictive maple syrup flavoured crème brulée that was surprisingly large in size and the flavours was just as big! Very impressed! Blumenthal’s hospitality service is worth noting as their service is first-rate as our requests always came with a pleasant demeanor and their knowledge of the menu was spot-on.  Blumenthal was the perfect venue for our first evening taking in the Jazz festival…what could you ask for more other than great music and delicious dishes?! 

King Crimson at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier

After dinner, we shuffled over to the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier to check out legendary King Crimson, who has been making music for nearly 50 years.
Showing off their unconventional stage setup where three drum sets were in the foreground side by side and the balance (bass, guitar, sax/flute, keys) are on the rear elevated portion stage, this workhouse of a band delivered a stellar performance. 
As a musician myself, I was enamored with the intricacies of which each drummer provided and also, how they worked so flawlessly in tandem. 
On the non-percussive side, the collection of musicians for this iteration of King Crimson, which consist of saxophonist/flutist Mel Collins, bassist Tony Levin, keyboardist Bill Rieflin, singer/guitarist Jakko Jakszyk and leader Robert Fripp beautifully accented the trio of drummers by combining searing guitar solos, booming basslines and crisp sax/flute parts to create a beautiful amalgamation of sounds that mesmerized the full house. Playing songs from their wide ranging catalogue, songs included the marathon (yet remarkable) Starless, The Letter’s, 21st Century Schizoid Man along with several others.
The show was split into two parts, with a brief intermission separating the two.
This prog-rock band from England has shown that time is certainly on their side as they continue to carry the brightly burning flame that signifies King Crimson’s music.

Bixiga 70

One of the free outdoor shows on the TD stage was an electrifying performance from Central São Paulo’s Bixiga 70’s 10 piece band churned out contagious grooves, infused with South American rhythms, jazz and pop music for an unforgettable performance. 
From my spot at the right of the stage, there were plenty of heads bobbing, tons of concert-goers dancing and Bixiga 70 fed off the crowd energy.
This stop was part of their 2017 international tour (they played Ottawa and Toronto a couple of days ago) and their energetic and exciting live show was quite enthralling.

Read about our day 2 here: https://www.modernmississauga.com/main/2017/7/5/experiencing-the-montreal-international-jazzfest-day-2

Read about our day 3 here: https://www.modernmississauga.com/main/2017/7/6/experiencing-the-montreal-international-jazzfest-day-3