The Montreal International Jazz Festival is the world's largest jazz festival, attracting more than two million visitors each year. Founded in 1979 by Alain Simard, André Ménard, Denyse McCann and Alain de Grosbois, the festival has grown to become a world-class music event. It takes place in early summer and features over 650 concerts with musicians from more than 30 countries. Most of the concerts are free to the public and take place in a variety of locations throughout the city, with a focus on the Place des Artes, a large performing arts complex in downtown Montreal. The Montreal International Jazz Festival has a truly international flavor, with luminaries such as Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolza, American R&B star Norah Jones and Cuban salsa legend Ibrahim Ferrer gracing its stages.
There are two large outdoor stages and 20 indoor stages, ranging from elegant concert halls to hip jazz clubs and cozy cabaret venues. The festival also has a year-round jazz program that brings together international jazz and music artists from around the world. An important contributor to the cultural life of Quebec, Alain Simard is a renowned producer of large-scale jazz events and co-founder of the Audiogram record label. He has worked for the Montréal International Jazz Festival, the FrancoFolies de Montréal and MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE since autumn 1999, and is now Vice President of Programming for all three events. Jazz Festivals Canada is a national network of 20 member festivals committed to the development and vitality of jazz performance in Canada. The Montreal International Jazz Festival holds the 2004 Guinness World Record as the world's largest jazz festival.
It also has an impressive commitment to sustainability: between 90 and 95% of the food sold within the Festival is purchased within 40 km of its distribution site, stimulating local economies and reducing carbon emissions. Originally just a jazz and blues festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival has grown to include reggae, African, Latin and other world music artists, as well as pop and electronic artists. Every year, for 11 days, music lovers from all over the world flock to downtown Montreal to attend this incomparable event.