Applications for 2014 are open: information and application forms here
The neon tubes buzzed out their last flickers right next to the new Claude Nobs Avenue. This sun-drenched 47th edition reached its end this evening under the watchful gaze of faithful friend Quincy Jones, in honor of his absent “brother”. The challenge was met head-on and the results were great: Montreux is fresh, lively, and touched by amazing artists.
At the Auditorium Stravinski, history-making moments followed one after another, adding to the Festival’s reputation while also continuing to enrich the depth of the archives which have been recognized as a world heritage resource by UNESCO. 11 sold-out shows including he deeply generous double opening nights by Leonard Cohen, the magnetic power exercised by Sting, and the three-night extravaganza by Prince bringing in crowds for the final evenings.
The Montreux Jazz Club, a venue that ended up maybe more experimental than the Lab, brought a diverse and astonishingly young audience. The excellent acoustics were underscored as much by the artists as by the public. This was nevertheless the first trial by fire for the Club, which will receive some improvements in configuration (length) for a more enjoyable concert experience. By coherently reintroducing Jazz (and more) to the heart of the Festival, with proximity and surprises as watchwords, this venue channeled the magic of major performance artists like Charles Bradley and Charles Lloyd as well as triumphant newcomers like Valerie June. We are still getting over the passage of young phenoms like Jonathan Batiste—no one came away unmoved by his version of the St. James Infirmary Blues, an anonymous standard from New Orleans…
The Montreux Jazz Lab came at the public from all angles with Rock, Electro, and Hip Hop sharing a tightly-crafted lineup in a flexible space at optimum capacity with constant traffic and excellent sound quality. The positioning and price were right on target with 9 concerts sold out. On the artistic side, concerts like those by James Blake and Patrick Watson grabbed their audiences with their musical intensity and kept them spellbound even after the show. Folk proved that it’s back in a big way with three sold-out shows (The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, and the surprising Ben Howard), while young artist Flume programmed as an aftershow had the drawing power of a headline act. Electronic music was on top with not-to-be-missed, high-draw acts (Kalkbrenner, Hawtin), success stories like Parov Stelar’s, and of course the ever-popular nightly free aftershows.
The Festival estimates 250,000 visitors overall over the 18 days. Improved circulation of festivalgoers on the lakefront promenade was in line with the objectives targeted by the overall reorganization of these spaces. More airy and open to the lake, the outdoor spaces better served the reinvigorated free offerings by attracting more visitors, and especially cooperative weather of course also reinforced this globally very positive outcome. Music in the Park remains the scenic core of the outside spaces, giving rythm to the public flow, thanks to an amazing, dense and various program.
Visitation of the new spaces offering free programming was very satisfactory. For example, the live shows in the Rock Cave were so packed that the Festival is now considering two live shows in place of DJ sets in the future, and also possibly a bit more floor space. If they took a few days to get into gear, the Club jams became systematic, and hopping to the point that artists were lining up to jam on stage the last few nights. (A few examples: Leszek Mozdzer, Angel Haze, Wyclef Jean’s bassist, Woodkid’s pianist, Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human, piano competition winner Jerry Leonide, Grace Kelly Quintet…) These jams clearly demonstrate that the Festival’s cherished tradition of improvisation is alive and well in Montreux.
Foundation 2, formed in 2008 for Creation and Cultural Exchange, consolidated its position and increased its visitation. We are seeing ever-increasing curiosity on the part of the public for the Foundation’s diverse and comprehensive projects: Workshops, Creations, and Competitions. The Competitions are so popular that they may enjoy a larger space in the future. This year’s winners were Jerry Leonide (piano), Leandro Pellegrino (guitar), and Wojciech Myrczek (voice). We are particularly proud of the success of our projects in cooperation with the Aga Khan Foundation, as well as Erik Satie’s Vexations—these were successful experiments in new ways of listening to music.
“We could feel the spirit of Claude.” This was the most significant comment heard around the brand new Chalet d’en bas, expressed by a public truly touched by the objects from the life of that child of the region. This space, a link heretofore missing on the Festival site, has become a necessary connection to a collective memory of sounds and sights. Its displays and programming showcased the richness of the archives, making it possible for one and all to revisit and experience in a new way the History of the Festival, a bit like you might page through a precious family album. The collection of vinyl records was brought to life by DJ sets and audacious presentations, making this unique cultural heritage even more accessible for future generations.
By continuing to write its history, the Festival is spilling over the limits of Jazz by following a definition of that art that would have pleased Claude Nobs: “more than a style of music, it’s the energy of life” (Vijay Iyer). Montreux proves without a doubt that variety is the spice of musical life.
See you on the lakefront 4 to 19 July 2014!
It is a major event, a legendary name remembered for eternity!
Indeed, tonight, Montreux municipality will honor Claude Nobs memory by changing a Grand-Rue’s section’ name between the Royal Plaza and the Montreux Palace to: Avenue Claude Nobs.
The town’s initiative feels like a Claude style wink. From now on the Fondation du Festival de Jazz de Montreux, the Convention Center’s, and the Montreux Palace’s offices now can be found at theFestival’s founding father’s adress. His name will echo in the very same place his work does, as much in the public space as in the collective memory.
Together, Montreux' mayor Laurent Wehrli, Claude's great friend Quincy Jones, Thierry Amsallem, the Claude Nobs Foundation new president and Mathieu Jaton, the Festival’s director will reveal the new street plaque during the Montreux Municipality’s official reception.
The Fondation du Festival de Jazz de Montreux warmly thanks the municipality for putting everything together in record time, to be able to inaugurate this new avenue during this 47th edition.
Laurent Wehrli, François Carrard, Mathieu Jaton, Quincy jones & Thierry Amsallem © 2013 FFJM - Vincent Bailly
The programme of the 48th Montreux Jazz Festival will be online on April 3, 2014. Tickets on sale on April 4.