The Montreal Jazz Festival is one of the premier events of its kind. Every year, hundreds of artists from around the world come to the city for close to two weeks of badass performances at indoor and outdoor venues across town. As we’ve discussed, some of these shows are pretty pricey to get into, but there’s plenty of good free music to check if you’re on a tight budget or if you'd rather use your money for other things.

Woodkid

Where: Scéne TD

When: June 26th at 9:30 pm

Jazz Fest is starting off in style by featuring a free performance from this international pop sensation on opening night. He’s a French music video director, having created videos for artists like Lana Del Rey and Pharrell, but he’s gone on to have an impressive performance career of his own. His orchestral pop would be worth paying quite a bit for, but you can check it out live without having to pay a dime.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSkb0kDacjs

John Roney

Where: Hyatt Regency Montreal

When: June 26th-June 5th at 11 pm

If you’re a musician, or if you’re just trying to sleep with one, you’ll definitely want to check these out. Roney is hosting late-night jam sessions every night of the festival, and they’re sure to be going until the wee hours of the morning. If you come on the right night, you might even be lucky enough to catch one of the festival’s more well-known performers.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBlnQgVcrXY

Cyrille Aimée

Where: Scéne Rio Tinto Alcan

When: June 29th at 8 pm

This French singer is one of the most popular vocalists in the international contemporary jazz scene, and you can see her for free. She brings her trademark fusion of gypsy, jazz, and Brazillian styles to a group of tunes ranging from standards to originals. She’s great on record, but you have to see her live to really appreciate her brilliance as an improviser.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8htJVyavMvo

Diana Krall

Where: Scéne TD

When: June 29th at 9:30 pm

This singer and pianist has becoming among the most popular performers in the world thanks to her husky vocals and appealing stage presence. She offers traditional takes on standards as well of compositions of her own. Fans routinely pay hundreds of dollars to see her play, but you can see her at Jazz Fest free of charge.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it1NaXrIN9I

Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Where: Scéne TD

When: June 30th-July 1st at 1 pm and 2 pm, July 2nd at 9 pm and 11 pm

You wouldn’t think that ska and big band music would go well together, but these guys will prove you wrong. They play jazz standards and other tunes with ska rhythms, and they flesh them out with big band instrumentation that fits the material surprisingly well. Music lovers of all sorts are sure to have a blast at this show.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8htJVyavMvo

Speakeasy Electro Swing

Where: L’Astral

When: June 30th-July 2nd at 12 am

If you’re into dancing, but twerking and grinding aren’t your thing, you might want to give these guys a try. They mix the sounds of the swing era with modern sounds like house and dubstep. Their DJs combine diverse styles of music in ways you never would have thought possible. It’s a one-of-a-kind dance party you’re sure to love.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftf-s9YVKkc

Vintage Trouble

Where: Scéne TD

When: July 1st at 9:30 pm

As much as we love checking out a killin’ jazz set, sometimes we just want to rock out. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be sure to want to catch this band. They don’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but they do deliver a classic rock ’n roll sound driven by distorted electric guitars. Fans of 60s blues rock bands like Cream will definitely want to see these guys.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pDr7cQgTHk

Vincent Gagnon Quartet

Where: Le Bleury Bar á vinyle, Scéne CBC/Radio-Canada

When: July 1st at 11 pm, July 2nd at 8 pm

This pianist hails from Quebec, but he’s brought his talents to places as diverse as New York and Haiti. His deceptively simple melodies give way to complex and creative improvisations. The Jazz Fest is a special place for him, since he was given the Galaxie Rising Star Award at the 2012 edition.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsGBaO1Xh1M

Hot Sardines

Where: Scéne Rio Tinto Alcan

When: July 2nd at 8 pm and 10 pm

Don’t tell these guys that the swing era is dead—they’d beg to differ. They play jazz that sounds straight out of a New York speakeasy, and they pull it off with such mastery and style that even more contemporary-minded music fans will enjoy themselves. They’re especially renowned for their live shows, so definitely don’t miss this one.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLhhlQzbRI0

Hutchinson Andrew Trio

Where: Scéne TD

When: July 3rd at 6 pm

Hailing from Alberta, this piano trio does an incredible job of combining the music of their home in the Prairies with the odd meters and complex harmonies of modern jazz. On their 2013 album, they featured luminaries of the contemporary jazz world such as Donny McCaslin and Rogério Boccato. They’ll be on their own at the Jazz Fest, but it’s still sure to be a can’t-miss show.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVHiCX63xUU

Balkan Gypsy Party

Where: L’Astral

When: July 3rd-July 4th at 12 am

This is the show to check out if you’re looking to party. They play Eastern European music that mixes electronic and live instruments, and it’s sure to have you dancing in no time. Even if you’re new to this style of music, you’ve got to check it out—you’ll be glad you did!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8_FHgBhz68

Dirty Loops

Where: Scéne Bell

When: July 4th and 5th at 10 pm

Even if you totally hate jazz, don’t worry, because there are still great bands like this Swedish pop trio to check out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you think you’re too cool for pop, you’re sure to love these guys. They bring impeccable musicianship and a sense of fun to their energetic covers and unique originals.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsqh9jHkHlM

Joe Sullivan Quintet with Lorne Lofsky

Where: Scéne CBC/Radio-Canada

When: July 4th at 8 pm

Sullivan is the director of McGill’s flagship big band, but he also has a vibrant career as a trumpeter, composer, and arranger. You’ll get to see his many talents on display at this show. Not only that, but you’ll get to hear Lofsky, who’s long been among Canada’s most renowned guitarists.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaqaOd-bkzU

Lake Street Dive

Where: Scéne Rio Tinto Alcan

When: July 4th at 8 pm and 10 pm

This soul band consists of musicians who trained at the prestigious New England Conservatory jazz program, and their virtuosity makes them a can’t miss act. They’ve gotten their widest public recognition for their memorable cover of Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back,” but they also have a wide catalogue of originals, some of which they’ll surely play at their Jazz Fest shows.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EPwRdVg5Ug

Deltron 3030

Where: Scéne TD

When: July 6th at 9:30 pm

Hip-hop fans need not worry, because Jazz Fest has something for you, too. This hip-hop supergroup, featuring beloved local DJ Kid Koala, will be playing a free set on the final evening to help close out the festivities.  Their unique sound and creative thinking are not to be missed.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54l0aJH7r0A

For more, follow Max on Twitter @mbled210

Hungry after the show? Click here for Best Montreal Mac 'n Cheese.

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