Montreal is a city where a heady mix of innovation, musical appreciation, joie de vivre and public celebration are all important ingredients of the civic cocktail. It’s a city that loves the tradition and history that jazz represents, but also respects the flexibility and improvisation implicit within the genre. The city’s inaugural jazz event in 1980 was headlined by none other than the great Ray Charles, who helped invent soul and R&B music. Since then – aided by the resurgence of jazz in the 1980s – the Montreal International Jazz Festival has grown into the largest jazz festival in the world. Headliners for the 39th edition include multi award-winning international singer and songwriter Seal (pictured), and jazz giant Herbie Hancock. Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section, was one of the primary architects of the post-bop sound, and will be back at the festival eight years after his last appearance.