Various Artists

Celebrating 20 Years of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal: 1980-2000

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Twenty years' worth of recordings made at the Montreal Jazz Festival during the '80s and '90s amounts to a decidedly mixed bag on the Montreal Jazz Festival box set. The four discs are divided thematically (sort of) into blues, vocals, traditional jazz, and non-traditional jazz (i.e., fusion). All That Jazz is the most successful of the four discs, with a nice program of fairly straight-ahead jazz numbers. The Sing, Sing, Sing disc features, you guessed it, singers, with a slant toward the pop end of the spectrum and with the somewhat puzzling inclusion of John Pizzarelli doing an instrumental reading of a Beatles tune. Different Strokes includes such non-standard fare as fusion-type material from Miles Davis and Pat Metheny, the gypsy swing of Stephane Grappelli, and nuevo tango from Astor Piazzola. Blues and Beyond is really that, blending blues performances (including a couple overly long tracks) with David Grisman and Uzeb (what they were doing at a jazz festival is anyone's guess). Like most festival programming, every effort is made to present a wide selection of talent that will appeal to a wide selection of listeners. While this approach doesn't necessarily add up to a coherent listening experience, Montreal Jazz Festival serves as a souvenir of the festival that may appeal to those who attended.

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