Of the many fabulous things that happened in my little world yesterday, two were especially noteworthy. First, at 4 p.m., over in the press room, The Montreal Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director, André Ménar, presented Bill Milkowski with the Bruce Lundvall Award. The Lundvall Award was created in 2009, and the first recipient was Lundvall himself, the great and joyful record-label executive and music aficionado who passed away six weeks ago. Each year since then, the Award is presented to a non-musician who has left a substantial mark on the jazz world in one way or another. Milkowski was the first journalist to receive the award.
Since 1980, Bill’s been writing about jazz for a variety of publications, including JAZZIZ. As an editor, I’ve had the pleasure of working with him on many occasions, most recently on our July cover story about singer Kurt Elling. Bill has a great rapport with most every artist he encounters, and I’ve long-suspected it’s because they sense he’s eminently sensible and trustworthy—which, in my experience, is entirely true. I value Bill’s deep knowledge of music and his great wealth of experience as a truly professional, first-rate journalist, and I was pleased to see him receive the Lundvall Award yesterday. He earned it.
The second noteworthy event from yesterday actually went off last night around 10 p.m., which is when Lucinda Williams took the stage at the Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, Montreal’s largest concert hall with seating for nearly 3,000. It’s a handsome room.
Williams topped a bill that included a solo—and not especially memorable—performance by Justin Townes Earle and a hard-driving hour-long set by The Mavericks that had just about every butt in the house shaking by the time they were through. And then came the nearly magisterial 62-year-old Williams, with her killer three-piece band and her whiskey-stung voice and her incredible songs that range from sad and introspective to venomous and blistering. She delivered one devastating ditty after another, and the cumulative effect was at once numbing and staggering. It was a grand, memorable performance.
Tonight I’m going to see Patricia Barber, a singer of a far different stripe than Williams. I’ll let you know how that went tomorrow. Until then, happy Saturday. —David Pulizzi