This year's version did not disappoint. There were about as many big names in town among the ticketed performances as far as I can recall, having been to this event for more than six years now. Among the free performances however, with electronic gadgetry becoming more sophisticated, it's been a bit more challenging to sort out the wheat from the chaff. IMO, there were quite a few bands who relied too much on electronic widgets at the expense of classical jazz instruments, e.g., piano, sax, trumpet, etc. Regardless, there were some outstanding performances and here is one jazz lover's vote for the best of the 2006 Jazz Festival. Feel free to chime in too!
Best overall ticketed performance: Wayne Shorter Quartet (I've followed John Patitucci for more than 10 years dating back to his days with the Chick Corea band and the guy keeps getting better!).
Best overall free performance: Matthew Von Doran trio (Damn, what a guitarist! Think younger Pat Metheny and better too! This guy's got super star written all over him. The crowd's reaction to both his performances at the PdA Esplanade on Wed. night was something to behold).
Best Canadian free performance: Michelle Gregoire quartet (from Manitoba as I recall, she's an original on piano. The guy on tenor and soprano sax (Kirk McDonald?) was pretty awesome.
Best Vocals: Monica Freire (totally kickass original lyrics!)
Best venue to meet the artist: Archambault store in PdA. Monica Freire gave another 45 minute performance there on Monday afternoon and also sat down for an interview. She speaks French like a native. But to her credit, when asked whether she would sing her Brazilian songs in French, she declared she had no intention to do so as this would dilute the meaning and passion of her composition in her native Portuguese.
Best venue to watch a free performance: The TD Canada Trust tent on St-Catherine between St-Urbain & St-Laurent. This venue is sufficiently far removed from the other venues that you don't get the background noise mixed in. Plus the crowds are not as overwhelming as say at the GM or Alcan venues.