Montreaux jazz – a class act   12 Jul 2005

MARTY FREE

It’s a sensation of carnavalesque proportions and it’s almost on our back doorstep. MARTY FREE discovers the sights and sounds of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Montreux is majestic in June. The weather is warming up and the school year is winding down.

There’s a market on the boardwalk on Fridays and a palpable buzz in the air as the internationally acclaimed annual Montreux Jazz Festival is fast approaching.

In just a few days, this placid paradise will ring with music of all descriptions; jazz, rock, blues, reggae, electronica – you name it, it’s here.

To call it a jazz festival is almost a misnomer, it doesn’t convey the range of artists who grace the bill these days.

This year sees as diverse a programme as ever.

Tori McRae sold out within hours, but there’s still more than anyone can possibly see in the two weeks from July 1 to 16.

Queens of the Stoneage, Garbage, Crosby, Stills and Nash with Steve Earle supporting.

Elvis Costello, Kasabian and The Bravery, Brian Wilson on his Smile album tour with Ibrahim Frerrer and the Buena Vista Social Club, Audioslave and Isis. Soul legends Billy Preston with Booker T and The MGs and Isaac Hayes on the same freaking stage!

Stalwarts such as George Benson, David Sanborn, Oscar Peterson and Jean Luc Ponty are back.

So is BB King, together this year with Robert Cray and Solomon Burke. King, as did Freddie Mercury, loves it so much he bought property here.

It’s easy to see why. To the east, the pre-Alps angle steeply from the shore. They run to the south behind Villeneuve and Aigle where they divide and flank the Rhone valley.

Around the northern edge of the croissant shaped lake lies Lausanne and if it wasn’t for the French Alps rising up from Evian, you could see right across to Geneva at Lac Leman’s southern most shore.

Hopefully Queenstown will remain this beautiful after centuries of settlement. Here, history is dignified and alive everywhere you look.

Thirty-nine years ago when festival director Claude Nobs conceived this baby as a tourist office employee, its future success was beyond his wildest dreams.

These days he resides comfortably in Caux, a small hamlet perched precariously on the hillside above Montreux, with one of the most breathtaking vistas imaginable.

Now a sprightly septuagenarian, but looking a good 20-years younger, Nobs has nurtured the festival to its present profile on a diet of dreams and determination, artfully accommodating contemporary musical styles alongside the event’s renown roster of the world’s best jazz artists.

Thanks to his vision and the festival’s continuing viability, Switzerland has become an early springboard into the European summer touring circuit for many acts.

Festivals have blossomed like Edelweiss across the country as promoters seek to emulate Montreux success.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Nobs is a beacon in a sea of sycophancy.

Some, like the Paleo festival at Nyon and Bern’s Gurten festival, have achieved longevity by catering to a young demographic, but none approach the variety, style or comfort levels of Montreux.

For two weeks, the town undergoes a transformation, even adopting its own on-site currency, the "Jazz" token, for use in the official venues and bars.

The party is relentless. The festival site spans the lakefront from the 3500 seat Auditorium Stravinsky and adjoining 2000 capacity Miles Davis Hall to the 1000 seat Casino Barriere, with shows from 8.30pm.

Jazz Trains run daily from 2pm, offering spectacular lake and mountain scenery.

Jazz Boats ply the lake with blues, reggae and Latin bands. Four free open air concert stages and the late night venues, Montreux Jazz Club and Montreux Jazz Cafe complete the official programme.

While Glastonbury has mud and Reykjavik is cold, Montreux has class, five-star hotels and Michelin star restaurants.

It’s an icon, a musical Mecca. Make the pilgrimage – it won’t be your last.

• For further information visit www.montreuxjazz.com.

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

Your Comments:

left by JuliaJules 25 Sep 2007

Fantastic piece of writing. I'm convinced, solely on the strength of this article.

News

NZ Election 2017: Labour’s plan to unlock Canterbury’s potential

28 Aug 2017 News
Jacinda Ardern on August 28, 2017 Christchurch’s rebuild will be fast-... more

Updated plan to address Auckland’s growth

11 Aug 2017 News
11 August 2017 Transport Minister Simon Bridges has released a joint report by the Government and Auckland Council, which updates work... more

Business

Rocket launch a huge step for New Zealand’s space industry

25 May 2017 Business News
25 May 2017 Minister for Economic Development Simon Bridges has congratulated the team at Rocket Lab on the successful launch of... more

Increased investor confidence welcomed

29 May 2017 Business News
29 May 2017 Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean today welcomed the Financial Markets Authority annual survey results... more

Living

London Cafes to Soothe Kiwi Homesickness

24 Nov 2017 London By Emma Creese
Exploring the world is a big draw for Kiwis to take an OE, but everyone moves their lives 18,000km from home not even thinking... more

New London venue and new look for New Zealand Annual Tasting

24 Nov 2017 Food & Wine
New Zealand Winegrowers will hold their Annual Trade Tasting in January at a new venue, and with it a new look and features for... more

Property

New Zealand Housing Affordability Measure released

10 May 2017 Property
10 May 2017 The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) new Housing Affordability Measure will allow the market... more

NZ house prices gain 11% in October

14 Nov 2016 Property
Article - BusinessDesk Monday 14 November 2016 10:28 AM NZ house prices gain 11% in October, driven by sales of higher value homes By... more

Migration

Suspension of decision making authority

25 Apr 2017 Migration
24 April 2017Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is taking steps to improve Immigration New Zealand’s decision making... more

Recognised Seasonal Employers employ more Kiwis

8 Feb 2017 Migration
7 Feb 2017 Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal... more

Travel

NZ Election 2017: Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation

28 Aug 2017 Travel & Tourism
Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation Posted by Kris Faafoi on August 28, 2017 more

International visitors projected to spend $15 billion

12 May 2017 Travel & Tourism
12 May 2017 New Zealand’s tourism sector is forecast to grow significantly over the next seven years, with international... more

Sport

Last chance to see All Blacks v Barbarians - Twickenham, this Saturday 4 November

1 Nov 2017 Rugby
Expect some fireworks this Saturday at Twickenham for the Killik Cup when the Barbarians take on the Double... more

All Blacks v Barbarians at Twickenham, 4 November - under a month to go! £55 tickets!

17 Oct 2017 Rugby
The Barbarians will kick start the Autumn Internationals and take on the Double World Champions and... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome more

Kiwi Success

Law Commissioner appointed

29 May 2017 Appointments
29 May 2017 Former Secretary for Justice Belinda Clark has been appointed as Law Commissioner, Justice Minister Amy Adams announced... more

Spencer to be Acting Governor of Reserve Bank

8 Feb 2017 Appointments
7 Feb 2017 Finance Minister Steven Joyce will appoint current Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer as the Acting Governor of... more

Recruitment

Online job ads continue growing strongly

26 Jun 2017 Recruitment
23 June 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says the latest Jobs Online report shows strong growth... more

New employment resource for young people

1 Mar 2017 Recruitment
28 Feb 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith and Associate Education Minister Louise Upston have... more

s