No, I haven’t visited the Festival this year as I have done so many times over the years, mostly during the 90s and the early 00s. But I think it is worthy of note that the 49th edition has, again, convinced the audience and the artists alike after the passing of Festival founder and head for so many years, Claude Nobs.
It has always been the way that many artists have tried to squeeze in several days to stay in Montreux instead of being on the road and in another city every day. The Festival organizers announced a turnout of 240.000 people and perfect weather throughout the entire two weeks. All three main concert halls and the free stages were constantly full and it was, again, a way for artists of different generations and genres to come together and play. Quincy Jones was present almost during the entire festival and introduced a lot of the artists.
I remember being invited several times to Claude’s chalet in Caux high above Lac Léman where artists and guests alike were watching old video footage from the early years. I was sitting on a sofa and had Nicholas Ashford to the left and George Benson to the right with Quincy, Ice T, Andrae Crouch and many more in the room watching the fabulous Aretha Franklin on the screen from one of the Festivals from the early 70s. I’ve read that this tradition continues and that artists like Sam Smith are enjoying this treat as well commenting, “I want to be part of this” or Steve Lukather saying, “This is exactly why I love Montreux, because I can meet all my friends.”
Awards were given out as well this year: winner of the Socar Montreux Jazz Electric Guitar Competition is Brazilian artist Pedro Martins. The winner of the Parmigiani Montreux Jazz Solo Piano Competition is Chinese artist Dai Liang a/k/a A Bu and the winner of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition is Alina Engibaryan from Russia. I guess we’re going to hear more from the three in the years to come. There was also a young indie folk singer from Sri Lanka, Amiyna Farouque, who won the Prix du Public UBS. All winners are invited to join the Montreux Jazz Academy in October with Yaron Herman as musical director and Al Jarreau among the mentors.
It will be interesting to see what the 50th anniversary edition in 2016 will be like. Several artists have already shown their interest in participating. And it is very tempting to visit again after so many years.