Juno Awards 2020: Montreal’s jazz scene reigns supreme

Jazz and blues artists from Montreal won nearly all their categories in this year’s Juno Awards, which were finally announced Monday after being delayed for several months.

The Juno Awards gala was supposed to take place in Saskatoon back in March, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the awards ceremony took place virtually in a CBC Music live stream on Monday evening.

Montreal singer Dominique Fils-Aimé won the Juno for vocal jazz album of the year for her second record, Stay Tuned! The album, which was also shortlisted for the Polaris Prize, is the second in a trilogy exploring different styles of Black music, beginning with the blues record Nameless in 2018 and to be followed by a third album exploring soul, hip hop, funk and R&B.

Trumpeter and composer Jacques Kuba Séguin was awarded jazz album of the year: solo for his album Migrations. Billed as “one of Montreal’s most adventurous musicians,” Séguin returned to a more classic form of jazz for this album. He based each of the compositions on interviews with people from various cultural communities in Quebec and wanted to use the music to encourage openness in others. Séguin has previously been nominated for two Félix Awards and one Prix Opus.

In the third jazz category, Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop won the Juno for jazz album of the year: group for their third album, Abundance. The award comes two years after the Toronto-based drummer and his sextet were first nominated for their sophomore release, Rev. In total, Cervini has released six albums as a leader (three of them with a quartet) while also co-leading two trios: TuneTown and the Juno-nominated Myriad3.

Montreal-based “blues diva” Dawn Tyler Watson’s record Mad Love was named blues album of the year. Among the singer-songwriter’s previous honours are two Maple Blues Awards and a Canadian Folk Music Award.

The biggest awards of the night went to Shawn Mendes for artist of the year and Alessia Cara for album of the year. Among the evening’s many presenters were jazz and blues favourites Laila Biali, Tom Wilson and Florence K.

Here are all the 2020 nominees in the Junos’ jazz and blues categories, with the winners in bold.

Vocal Jazz Album of the Year
  • Bria Skonberg – Nothing Never  Happens
  • Dominique Fils-Aimé – Stay Tuned!
  • Elizabeth Shepherd – MONTRÉAL
  • Jazz Affair – Wishes
  • Monkey House – Friday
Jazz Album of the Year: Solo
  • Jacques Kuba Séguin – Migrations
  • Joel Miller – Unstoppable
  • John Stetch – Black Sea Suite
  • Ted Quinlan – Absolutely Dreaming
  • The Mark Kelso Jazz Project – The Chronicles of Fezziwig
Jazz Album of the Year: Group
  • Al Muirhead’s Canadian Quintet – Undertones
  • Brad Turner Quartet with Seamus Blake – Jump Up
  • Dave Young Trio – Trouble in Mind
  • Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop – Abundance
  • Jane Bunnett and Maqueque – On Firm Ground / Tierra Firme
Blues Album of the Year
  • Big Dave McLean – Pocket Full of Nothin’
  • Dawn Tyler Watson – Mad Love
  • Durham County Poets – Hand Me Down Blues
  • Michael Jerome Browne – That’s Where It’s At
  • Whitehorse – The Northern South Vol. 2