Brian Wilson among Montreal Jazz Fest headliners

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Crowds at the 2015 Montreal Jazz Festival.
Crowds at the 2015 Montreal Jazz Festival. Photo Credit: Victor Diaz-Lamich

A jazz festival might strike some as an unlikely venue for rock legend Brian Wilson to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the great Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, the smash of the '60s that features such immortal tunes as "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Sloop John B" and "God Only Knows." But such a storied anniversary will indeed take place July 7 as one of the highlights of the upcoming Montreal Jazz Festival.

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson

Wilson will be accompanied that evening on the big stage of the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier Theater at the Place des Arts by Beach Boys original Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, who joined the group as a singer and guitarist in the early '70s.

The festival, which annually attracts visitors from throughout the world and particularly North America, will run from June 29 to July 9. Presented in collaboration by the Toronto-Dominion Bank in collaboration wth Rio Tinto, a multinational metals and mining corporation, the festival will host 175 ticketed indoor concerts at nine venues spread over 15 series of events.

Melody Gardot will perform at the festival's opening concert.
Melody Gardot will perform at the festival's opening concert.

Festival highlights, as always, include free outdoor concerts presented on street-side stages and free family-oriented street shows (the free outdoor concerts will be announced June 7).

In addition to Brian Wilson, performers of note spanning a range of musical genres include singer-songwriter Melody Gardot, who opens the festivities, and the renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who headline the closing performance. The roster of other performers includes Rufus Wainwright, with full orchestra; Kool and the Gang; Lauryn Hill; Chick Correa; Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra; New Orleans' Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Canada-based jazz singer Susie Arioli; and blues great Taj Mahal. The complete Montreal Jazz Festival lineup is available at www.montrealjazzfest.com.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will headline the closing performance.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will headline the closing performance.

This year, five hotels, among them the Hyatt Regency Montreal, the official hotel of the festival, are offering two-night commissionable festival packages.

The packages, are available from the following properties: the Hyatt Regency, starting at $582; Le St.-Martin Hotel Particular, starting at $506; Square Phillips Hotel & Suites, starting at $489; the Travelodge Montreal, $438; and l'Appartement Hotel, $434.

The rates are per person, based on double occupancy. Taxes and fees are not included. For more information, call (855) 299-3378.

The packages include breakfasts, a first category concert ticket for one of three festival venues, Maison Symphonique de Montreal, Theatre Maisonneuve or Salle Wilfrid Pelletier; priority access to free concerts in the Open Hour House and Nightcap Heineken series; a bag with the festival logo; the official festival T-shirt; a cap with the logo; and a guided tour of the festival site.

An impromptu jazz performance on the street.
An impromptu jazz performance on the street. Photo Credit: Joe Rosen

Other packages are:

• A jazz dinner-cruise aboard the Bateau-Mouche (tourist boat) in the company of guitar virtuoso Paulo Ramos. The three-hour cruise is available June 29, June 30 and July 1; boarding will begin at 6.30 p.m. from the Jacques Cartier Quay in the Old Port of Montreal, returning at 10:30 p.m. The cost is $187 per person, including the cruise, four-course meal, gratuities and show. For reservations, call (514) 849-9952 or (800) 361-9952 or visit bateaumouche.ca.

• Old Montreal VIP walking tour with a professional guide includes an interior visit to the Notre-Dame Basilica, and a walk through the historic borough from Place Jacque-Cartier through Notre-Dame and St. Paul Street and ending at Place Royale. The tour, whose price includes admission to the basilica, a refreshment, a tasting and 50% off admission to the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum, is available daily starting June 10, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is $60 per person, plus taxes. Call (514) 844-4021 or (800) 363-4021.

• The Story of Jazz in Montreal walking tour, visiting the sites of former jazz clubs such as Rockhead's Paradise, the Rising Sun and Chez Pare'e. The tour starts in front of the old Windsor Station and ends at the heart of the site of the Jazz Festival. The guided tour includes a look at vintage photos and the sounds of music recordings. Available July 1, 2, 3, 9 and 10 (in English from noon to 2 p.m. and in French, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), the walk costs $22. Tickets can be purchased at jazztoursmontreal.eventbrite.ca.

• Festival basic French lessons focuses on some essential words and phrases such as greetings, asking directions and ordering meals. These informal and amusing instructions take place in conjunction with sipping an aperitif and enjoying a typically French repast. $71 a person, July 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (available online at the festival site).

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