All about that Jazz: Kool & the Gang and Danny Brown

Last night’s amazing show and the living legends, great rappers and can’t-miss locals playing the Jazz Fest tonight.


Kool & the Gang. Photo by Cindy Lopez

If you’ve grown up with a radio anywhere near you, you’ve grown up with Kool & the Gang. It’s not even a stretch to suggest that a bunch of us were probably conceived to the strains of their lowdown nasty funk and their high-caliber slow jams, in some order or another. (And I gotta believe that, because picturing Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton is horrifying.)

While to describe Kool & the Gang’s dance throwdown as “a family affair” may borrow liberally and lazily from a sentiment expressed by their ’70s heyday contemporaries I can’t think of a better way to describe the multi-generational turnout of faithful fans the jazz-cum-funk-turned-disco legacy act drew out to Place des Arts last night.

From the green to the greying, not a soul in Salle Wilfrid Pelletier was left untouched by the hour-and-a-half super-jam unleashed on a near-capacity crowd following a rousing set from local funk outfit the Brooks.

Imagine, for a moment, the best wedding you’ve ever attended. Picture a live band rather than a DJ belting out hits. And then imagine that the band is Kool & the Gang, with four original members (including bassman Kool himself, and OG drummer George Brown on percussion and keys) holding the rhythms down, while a crack outfit of brass players and singers lend their considerable chops to the most classic of feel-good radio staples, to round out the funkiest of nuptials, a marriage of fandom to hit music that lasts forever.

‘Cuz that’s what it was.

Do I really need to tell you that “Can’t Get Enough” and “Jungle Boogie,” early on, brought the crowd to our feet and our backs up off the wall, for keeps? Do I have to explain how “Joanna” makes ladies of every generation swoon?

Can you not guess how the celebration comes to its staggering conclusion? And do I really need to get down on it any further?

The gang was all there and we left with broad smiles. All props due to a legendary foundation of modern music. Bravo and thank you, Jazz Fest, for knowing what, when and where.

Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill

It damn near brings a tear to my eye to think I’ll get to see my one of my generation’s greatest, Ms. Lauryn Hill, in the same room on Wednesday — see our interview with her guitarist, a Montrealer, here. (She plays her first Place des Arts show tonight, but it’s sold out.)

That tear may well be the last bodily fluid I have left by the time Detroit’s Danny Brown is done with us at Metropolis, tonight.

I have no idea who is reading this ongoing series of review/previews I’ve been doing since last week. Honestly, it’s just lots of fun and I don’t have time to stop and think about it much. But part of me at least likes to think a few new readers have stumbled on my ramblings.

If so: A) Thanks and welcome; and B) I’m not trying to blow smoke up your ass by suggesting that if ever in your life you’ve kinda wanted to see a crazy-ass rap show and weren’t sure how to proceed, you should grab a ticket to see latter-day hip hop saint and born sinner Brown tear down the best standing room venue in town.

Spreading fuel for the fire is opener Husser, one third of Montreal’s the Posterz, going in on the solo tip with a rumoured assist from another rising outfit to watch, Ragers. So again, if I’m reaching someone who isn’t in the know, I’m saying: don’t be an Opie Opening-Act-Skipper. When this show is done, it’s legend.

Follow @ShineCultMTL to see if I can string together a coherent phrase as it all unfolds.

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Danny Brown. Photo by Cindy Lopez

Tuesday, July 5

5 p.m.: So I figured out what West Trainz is. It’s five dudes jamming on a moving train. They may have been heading west, but this is Montreal, so who even knows? I do know they were on a wikkid riddim when I crossed their tracks. They play a few times this week, so just don’t be surprised if you get run over by reggae. (Place des Festivals, Jeanne-Mance btwn Ste-Catherine & de Maisonneuve, free, outdoor)

7 p.m.: Guitar/beatbox combo Hey Moonshaker get freaky in the comforts of Place Heineken. They do it again Wednesday, same place, at 5 p.m. (Ste-Catherine & Bleury, free, outdoor)

It’s a good thing they have that second gig because with all due respect it might be difficult to walk away from Tokyo Chukei Iki, a casual 13 baritone-sax player ensemble over from Japan, playing in front of Complexe Desjardins, also at 7 p.m. tonight. (150 Ste-Catherine W., free, outdoor)

10 p.m.: California’s Son Little claims no genre and promises many. (Turkish Airlines/CBC Stage, Clark & de Montigny, free, outdoor)

11:59 p.m.: The Savoy du Metropolis welcome Montreal instrumental hip hop/groove institution Nomadic Massive back to their free midnight series for a one-night, guaranteed workout to bring us into the early Wednesday hours. Their brand-brand new-new LP, The Big Band Theory, is out-out now-now. (59 Ste-Catherine E., indoor

For a detailed site map, ticket info and the complete schedule, please consult the official Montreal International Jazz Festival website