Duke's Picks: 5 acts to catch at Montreal Jazz fest this year

The complete schedule of indoor shows at the 39th annual Jazz festival was announced today. CBC Homerun music columnist Duke Eatmon shares his top picks.

CBC Homerun music columnist Duke Eatmon shares his top picks for the indoor concert lineup

Kamasi Washington is set to perform at the 39th Montreal International Jazz Festival June 30. This will be his debut at the jazz vet. (Mike Park)

The complete schedule of indoor shows at the 39th Montreal International Jazz Festival was announced today and CBC Homerun music columnist Duke Eatmon has the top picks for must-see acts this year.

Eatmon's top pick of the whole program is a double bill performance by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite.

The two recently collaborated on a new album together, No Mercy In This Land.

"Their music is just an incredible combination of blues and folk. Very soulful pick. And that would probably be my top concert pick out of all the artists this year," he said.

Duke Eatmon on his jazz fest picks

3 years ago
CBC's music columnist lists the must-see indoor concerts at the 2018 jazz fest. 3:49

The festival features 150 concerts and runs from June 28 to July 7. Seal is one of the biggest names slated to perform, with a festival-opening show scheduled at Place des Arts on the 28.

"His music cannot be pigeonholed," said Eatmon. "Even though he's not what you would call a jazz musician so to speak, he's an incredible addition to the festival this year. And I'm really excited that he's coming to the city."

Duke's top pick of the festival is Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite. (Press)

Eatmon also gave the nod to American jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, who is making his debut at the festival.

He described Washington as an artist who isn't afraid to mix it up and is a front runner in a new wave of jazz musicians who integrate hip hop elements into their performance.

"We are talking about a man who has been on the jazz scene since the 1960s. Broke into it as part of Miles Davis' quintet," said Eatmon. "He was probably the first jazz artist to incorporate computers and technology into his music."

Hancock and Thundercat will perform at Place des Arts July 2.

Music columnist Duke Eatmon has five picks for the 2018 jazz festival lineup. (CBC)

Eatmon highlighted Montreal-based vocalist Ranee Lee as a must-see, calling her an incredible vocalist, "our own Billie Holiday."

"Ranee Lee is one of those singers that knows no bounds. Her voice is never flat. And she always puts on an incredible performance."

Find the complete indoor schedule here. The full program will be announced May 30.