Always on the lookout for weird but multicultural stuff, I went through the schedule of Montreal Jazz Fest with a fine-tooth comb. Below, you will find my suggestions for this 2012 edition of the Festival. If  you can’t attend all the shows, do like me, listen at least to the tracks on the Internet. You may discover your next album purchase in this post. Listen to my thoughts!..

1. Souad Massi : Maghrebi sounds, folk and flamenco (Wednesday, July 4th)

Souad Massi. Picture credit: Hiba Music

North African music is never too far from my heart and I often feel to escape in the fine sands of the desert… Now that I have listened to Souad Massi songs, I understand why she’s called the « Tracy Chapman of Maghreb ». Her music is a mix of simplicity and meticulousness. She subtly incorporates pop and folk music into Arab rhythms. I suggest you read her interesting biography.

  • Listen to the song Ech Adani via Youtube
  • Listen to the song  Malou via Youtube
  • Listen to the song  Khalouni via Youtube

2. Osaka Monaurail : japanese funk (Saturday, July 7th)

Osaka Monoaurail
Photo credit: Osaka Monaurail Myspace.

I initially thought that Osaka Manaurail sang in Japanese. I then thought that funk sung in Japanese could be either surprisingly horrible or totally enchanting. However, after listening to few songs I realized they sing in English. It takes away the exotic side of it yet, their music is refined and entertaining! It reminds me of my childhood when my father would play his LPs of James Brown or other funk artists. So it’s worth the try!.

  • See the complete schedule of Osaka Monaurail at the Jazz Festival
  • Listen to few of their songs via their official Myspace page

3. Paulo Ramos, Brazilian music (Friday, July 6th)

Photo credit: Montreal en Lumière

I am interested in Paulo Ramos not only because he is Brazilian but also because he is the 2011 Éval-Manigat Award winner for multicultural music. Never heard about this prize before but it shows that this singer deserves attention! He has lived in Montreal for the past 18 years and music allows him to preserve his cultural identity. His songs remind me of the some telenovela‘s theme songs. He is proud to sing that he is not from here (Quebec) but at the same time he is very much in love with Montreal!

  • See the complete schedule of  Paulo Ramos at the Jazz Festival
  • Listen to the song Bossamba via Youtube

4. BlackMahal : hiphop and panjabi music (Saturday, July 7th

Photo credit: Official website of BlackMahal

BlackMahal style has nothing to with my favorite songs from Indian movies. I would describe it as hip-hop with some Punjabi spice added to it. It’s bizarre and yet it’s ingenious because the group is made of different artists who excel in their respective music styles. For instance, the band is constituted of Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti, a famous teacher and singer of Dholi (an instrument widely used in Punjabi music) and other artists who are hip-hop experts.

  • See the complete schedule of BlackMahal at the Jazz Festival
  • Listen to few of their songs via their official website

5. Kalmunity : R&B, hip-hop, afro-beat, funk, reggae, soul, flamenco, slam, alouette (Thursday, July 5th)

Photo credit: Le Devoir

Wow, that’s lot of different style for just one band! According to the picture, this a multiracial band. Mind-blowing! I would be curious to see how they manage to make a song out of so many different genres. Personally, I found that their songs have more of an hip-hop vibe han anything else but I’m still impressed by so much diversity.

  • See the complete schedule of Kalmunity at the Jazz Festival
  • Listen to the few of their songs via their official Myspace page

6. Curumin: samba, funk, jazz, bossa nova and hip hop (Friday, June 29th)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Unfortunately, I didn’t see Curumin’s show because I had to see Johnny Clegg’s performance, something I had been waiting for so long. Curumin is described as a « delicious combination of Spanish and Japanese roots ». It’s too bad he wasn’t scheduled for more than one performance. I’ll have to be content with listening to his music at home.

  • Listen to few songs from his official Myspace page

7. Boogat : hip-hop, rap, world music, dancehall, cumbia ordubstep (Sunday, July 1st)

Photo credit: Boogat’s website

Another multi-genre giant! After listening to his songs, I was so sorry I didn’t get to attend the show. I strongly suggest his music !…

  • Download the song »Dos Cervezas » from the official website (free)

8. Heavy Soundz: urban latin music, reggae, ska and hip-hop (Wednesday, July, 4th):

Photo credit: Heavy Soundz website

Obviously, there’s a lot of hip-hop in my suggestions. Heavy Soundz is made of 5 musicians and 5 MCs from Quebec and some hot countries: Salvador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Peru and Guatemala. Another exquisite mix between latin beats and black music.

  • Download their album Tumba Parlantes from their official website (free)

9. Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats: traditional rom music, gitan rythms, world beat, rap and hip-hop Tuesday, July 3rd)

Photo credit: Jazz Festival website

Gypsy Roma is probably the weirdest mix and also one of the best. The band is made of 20 Serbians. I must admit my ignorance when it comes to traditional rom music. In any event, Gypsy Roma is a happy mess of tradition and modernity. Another interesting fact; the group was founded as a volunteer initiative to support the cause of Young Roms.

  • A performance by Gypsy Roma Urban Balkans Beats from Youtube

10. Johnny Clegg: Mbaqanga, Afro-pop (Friday, June 29th)

Photo credit: Johnny Clegg’s website

The last but not the least is the « white zulu ». I have so much to say about him that I will have to write a separate article. Stay tuned!

  • Listen to few of his songs from his official website