“André Ménard summed things up, Saturday afternoon: “This is a music festival programmed by music fans for music fans.”
The Montreal International Jazz Festival co-founder put his money where his mouth was later that evening, stepping up to the merch counter and purchasing a CD after being wowed by the mesmerizing vocal prowess of Ala.ni, former backup vocalist to R&B queen Mary J. Blige, at L’Astral.
“C’est ridicule,” Ménard commented, to programming director Laurent Saulnier, regarding Ala.ni’s talent. This after she had ended her first set by stepping away from the microphone and continuing to sing while walking to the side of the stage, up the stairs and around the balcony, to the awe of the audience. So jot her name down in this year’s “discovery” column, alongside a host of others.
At the festival’s annual wrap-up on Saturday, Saulnier described his programming team as the modern-day version of the A&R, i.e. artist and repertoire, departments of the record labels of old, digging up future festival favourites to balance the array of marquee names that perform each year.“