Ranked as the world’s largest jazz festival in the Guinness World Records, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal has been synonymous with a passion for music for nearly 40 years. Every year for 10 days, the French-speaking metropolis of North America becomes the venue where fans of all types of jazz-related music rub shoulders with aficionados of jazz in its purest form. All on a unique site designed to meet festival goers’ every need, right downtown in an area off-limits to car traffic! Montreal is without a doubt the true heartbeat of Planet Jazz!
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal was founded in 1979 by Alain Simard in association with André Ménard, Denyse McCann and Alain de Grosbois, with the purpose of bringing the best musicians on the planet to the public. A non-profit organization since 1981, its mandate is to popularize jazz and its related musical forms thanks to its free outdoor shows and its wide diffusion, in addition to being a major tourist attraction for Montreal and a springboard for its musicians.
Each year, the Festival is...
- Over 2 million visits
- 600 concerts
- 400 activities and events
- 3000 musicians from 30 countries
- 130 street artists performing non-stop
- 250,000 tourists
- 300 accredited journalists
- 20 stages
- 10 prizes
- An area of 760,000 ft2/70,060 m2
- Over 60,000 litres of beer
- Over 2,500 kilos of fries
- 977 temporary employees hired, including 832 for the outdoor site
- Over 100 video clips viewed 344,000 times
The Festival in 10 key dates
Summer of 1980: The first edition of the Festival gathers approximately one hundred artists, including Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Vic Vogel and Ray Charles on Île-Sainte-Hélène, attracting some 12,000 festival goers.
1982: Having become an autonomous non-profit corporation, the Festival moves to St. Denis Street.
1986: With over a thousand musicians on the program, the Festival launches its first large-scale free event, which was to become the midway event of every festival thereafter.
1988: The Festival definitively establishes its official site around Place des Arts.
1989: At its 10th anniversary, the Festival reaches a million visitors.
1991: The Festival site continues to expand, integrating for the first time the De Maisonneuve Blvd axis.
1996: The Festival Gallery is born, with works by Miles Davis, Tony Bennett and Yves Archambault.
2001: The Festival launches a new series of music presented all year long: Jazz All-Year Round.
2004: With 2 million visits, the Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary by entering the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest jazz festival.
2009: The Place des Festivals, the new epicentre of the event, is inaugurated.
Les dirigeants du Festival
After having studied communications at Université Laval and Concordia University, Jacques-André Dupont joined L’Équipe Spectra in 1988 as director of publicity. Considered by many to be an authority in marketing, sponsorship and the development of large-scale cultural projects, he was named in 1992 associate vice-president, Marketing and business development. He has supported the musical development of the next generation of Québécois artists thanks, among other endeavours, to the creation of the Blues Camp for teens, and staging a series of concerts presenting high school, cegep and university students. He is also responsible for many projects addressing the sustainable development of the group. In December 2015, he became CEO of L’Équipe Spectra and the festivals it manages.
Founder and Chairman of the Board
One of the pioneers and leaders of the Canadian music industry, Alain Simard has been a builder of Quebec’s culture for 50 years. A founding member of ADISQ, he launched in 1977 with André Ménard Spectra Scène, the nucleus of what would evolve over the years into L’Équipe Spectra. Alain Simard is known internationally for being the creator and president of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the founder of the FrancoFolies de Montréal and of the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE festival. He also co-founded the Audiogram record label in 1985, acquired the Spectrum and the Métropolis, launched in 2003 the first Nuit blanche in North America and participated in the creation of Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. In 2016, he was inducted in the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.
Cofounder and vice-president, L’Équipe Spectra, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
André Ménard numbers among the most influential figures in the Quebec artistic community, having greatly contributed to the cultural life of Montreal. Working in the domain of live show and concert production since 1975, he founded L’Équipe Spectra with Alain Simard almost 40 years ago, and remains vice-president of the company. He is also the cofounder of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal and has been a member of the board of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership since its inception in 2003. Driven by his insatiable cultural curiosity, André Ménard travels to more than 300 artistic events every year throughout the world. In 2016, he was inducted in the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.
Vice-president of Programming
A journalist specializing in music from 1982 to 1999, Laurent Saulnier wrote for a number of newspapers and magazines (Elle Québec, Clin d’œil, Chansons). He was editor of the music section at Voir from 1991 to 1999, in addition to collaborating with a number of TV and radio programs (including Christiane Charrette, La Ruée vers l’art, Cadillac rose and Beau et Chaud). Also, from 1997 to the spring of 2000, he co-hosted the TV magazine Les Francs-Tireurs on Télé-Québec. He has worked for the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the FrancoFolies de Montréal and MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE since autumn 1999, and is now vice-president of Programming for the three events. A true music fan, he has seen over 20,000 concerts in his life.