Over 50 years the Montreux Jazz Festival has become a singular rendezvous in the world of music. For this edition, the Festival intends to tell its story and affirm its values and specificities in order to better project itself into the future. From its creation in 1967 by Claude Nobs, who would have turned 80 this February 4th, the Festival rapidly earned a reputation for fantastic concerts, unbelievable artistic collaborations, rare moments, improbable anecdotes, audacity, ambitious projects, and impulsive decisions.
The Festival has welcomed legendary artists into its idyllic embrace. Some, like Prince and Deep Purple, contributed to penning the legend of Montreux through their songs, while others, like David Bowie, Nina Simone, and Freddie Mercury came and lived in the region, or recorded albums here. The Festival has mixed all musical genres and discovered and nurtured talented young artists, carving out a permanent mark on the world map and in the hearts of the public. The Festival continues today to bring to life the unreasonable dreams of its founder. Claude Nobs has inspired in his teams of yesterday, today, and tomorrow his passion and fundamental values: a sense of hospitality, close, friendly ties with artists, an obsession with sound quality, and a gift for bringing about the unexpected so that magic happens. To breathe life into all kinds of music for the greatest possible number in optimal conditions, Montreux has always been committed to progress, both on the main Festival stages and at the free venues.
From its inception the Festival has proven visionary by scrupulously recording every single concert using the latest technologies of the moment. This absolutely unique collection of audiovisual archives contains more than 5000 hours of live music, and has been recognized by UNESCO through inclusion in the “Memory of the World Register”.
This year the logo is at the heart of the poster artwork, with a multihued synthesis of all the posters produced up until now symbolizing 50 years of artistic encounters and mixing genres.
The artist behind this poster, Giovanni Riva, recomposed the official Festival logo from Jean Tinguely’s 1982 poster. On a midnight blue background grooved like a vinyl record, the logo is made up of fragments of the 49 preceding posters, laid out in chronological order. The 2016 poster thus brings together another incredible story: that of the connection between the Montreux Jazz Festival and the visual arts. The posters, like the audiovisual archives, constitute part of the Festival’s heritage. Since its creation, the Festival has given international artists “carte blanche” to create the posters. With his poster paying tribute to this Montreux tradition, Giovanni Riva wanted this symbolic artwork to be solidly rooted in the bedrock, the terroir, of the Festival, so he crafted a monumental luminous installation with help from local artisans.
The projects conceived for this jubilee year are steeped in the stories and unique details that have made the Festival what it is today. In different ways, they each illustrate the Festival, pay tribute, and continue to write the Festival story.
This digital platform provides access to the audiovisual treasures represented not only by the archives of concerts recorded since 1967, but also a variety of video features produced by Montreux Jazz TV. With this tool, the Festival content is centralized and complemented with editorial information. New videos, photo galleries, and thematic playlists are provided regularly. On the platform, a Concert Database, an excellent research tool, inventories every concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival since 1967, complete with set lists and artist lineups. Visit montreuxjazz.com
A retrospective covering the last 49 editions in the form of short, jazzy videos showcasing the greatest moments of this musical odyssey. Visit montreuxjazz.com/50
Texts by Arnaud Robert, preface by Mathieu Jaton
400 pages, 175 photographs
Published by the Montreux Jazz Festival and Éditions Textuel
June 1967: a live wire named Claude Nobs launched one of the most beautiful musical adventures of his time in his little town in French-speaking Switzerland. Fifty years later, the story of the Montreux Jazz Festival is told by those who created it. The voice of Nina Simone, the trumpet of Miles Davis, and the guitar of B.B. King echo through these candid recollections from Quincy Jones, Carlos Santana, and Lenny Kravitz. Sixty artists share the most beautiful pages from the history of live music. A half century of emergencies, of unbelievable stories, and of incandescent beauty. This story, which is still being written, is presented through nearly 200 photographs. Mostly never before published, these images bring this legendary festival to life, on stage and behind the scenes. This book does not claim to tell “the beautiful history” of this unique festival. It leaves that to the artists.
On sale on 15 June 2016 on montreuxjazzshop.com
For this special anniversary year, the Montreux Jazz Festival is teaming up with three major emblematic institutions which, like the Festival, bring people together around music and culture, with local roots and international scope: Présence Suisse, Festival Images, and the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, which will kick off this collaborative effort by performing especially for Montreux their landmark spectacle “Le Presbytère n’a rien perdu de son charme, ni le jardin de son éclat” at the Auditorium Stravinski on March 15th and 16th of this year.
The Béjart Ballet Lausanne, directed by Gil Roman, wanted to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary and to Claude Nobs’ legacy of the Montreux Jazz Festival by offering to Montreux, its inhabitants, and the Festival the most “rock-n-roll” of their dance spectacles: Ballet for Life. This poignant homage to youth and hope will be given a special performance, the first time in Montreux. This is a particularly logical collaboration, since The Presbytery shares lots of DNA with the Festival: featuring music by Queen, the ballet provides a telling reminder of Freddie Mercury’s close ties to the Montreux region. This event is part of the Saison Culturelle de Montreux. Two performances on 15 and 16 March 2016 at the Auditorium Stravinski
Festival Images, Switzerland's premier visual arts biennial, will be present throughout the Montreux Jazz Festival with two never-before-seen projects custom-tailored for this 50th edition. These two co-produced projects reflect the long-term friendship between these audacious neighbor institutions, and will be revisited during the Festival Images Vevey from 10 September to 2 October 2016. With support from the Fonds Culturel Riviera.
BOOK BOX: "Rewrite a page of history!": proposed by Festival Images Vevey, the Book Box invites festivalgoers to photobomb images from the book published for the jubilee. In this temporary studio situated in the Festival's main hall (B4), the public can use a green screen to strike a pose in a photograph from the book 50 Summers of Music, then leave with their personalized photo, thereby tangibly taking part in the legend of Montreux.
PICOTIN, AN EXHIBITION BY CYRIL HATT: In homage of the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, French artist Cyril Hatt has recreated the atmosphere of Claude Nobs' legendary chalets through photographs. With snapshots, tape, and staples, French artist Cyril Hatt has photographically recreated the atmosphere of the chalets of Claude Nobs, filled with objects from his immense, whimsical collection.
During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Présence Suisse kicked off a two-year program called Swissando. Given the importance that Brazilian music and its stars have always had in Montreux, it was natural that the Festival would take part in this program. In May, Swissando is organizing a residential cultural exchange between Swiss and Brazilian artists, featuring The Young Gods (from Switzerland) and Naçao Zumbi (from Brazil). This will be followed by concerts across Brazil before a grand finale in Montreux in July. This initiative of the institution responsible for Switzerland’s international image shines a spotlight on the strong relations that have always existed between the Festival and Brazil.