Record turnout for Montreal jazz fest: organizers

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The Independent Culture

The Montreal International Jazz Festival, billed as the largest event of its kind in the world, was attended this year by a record of nearly two million people, organizers said Tuesday.

The 32nd edition, which featured 1,001 outdoor and indoor concerts, wrapped up on Monday night in Montreal, Quebec with a closing show by American rock band The B-52s.

Organizers told a press conference it was the highest attendance rate in festival history with an occupancy rate for the indoor shows of more than 85 percent.

"It was above all an unprecedented musical success. There were so many great shows," said festival vice-president of programming Laurent Saulnier, confirming that the $30 million, 10-day event had turned a profit.

The festival was marked by the success of GRUBB, a young Roma and Serbian group that mixes dance, hip-hop and pop, as well as three concerts in three nights from innovative Tunisian oud-player Anouar Brahem.

It also featured performances from French R&B artist Ben l'Oncle Soul, sold-out solo shows by famed Canadian pianist and contralto singer Diana Krall, as well as Prince and American bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding.

Critics praised Sophie Hunger, a folk-pop-blues singer from Zurich, and young pianists Tigran Hamasyan from Armenia and Thomas Encho from France.

The festival, which attracts a large number of American tourists, is also known for late-night partying that endures long after the concerts have ended.