[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 48th edition of the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival opened on Friday, July 4th in Switzerland.
This almost half-a-century old music festival is not only located in idyllic Montreux on the quays of Lake Geneva with view of the Alps, it has become one of the biggest and most well-known jazz festivals of the year. Attracting now easily over 100’000 visitors, it also always provides its loyal fans with a very eclectic mix of music styles making this festival the most unique of all the jazz festivals in the world.
Among the headliners of this 2014 edition are Pharrell Williams, Amy Macdonald, Chris Rea, Robert Plant and Rodrigo Y Gabriela. The festival is especially proud to present a long awaited guest musician who will make his first appearance in the history of the Montreux Jazz Festival: Stevie Wonder. In addition to all the paying venues, there are a large number of free concerts of lesser known artists which always makes for good surprises.
[box_light]Music in the Park stage[/box_light]
The “Music in the Park” stage is always a great place to enjoy either Jazz Big Bands in the afternoons or a generous amount of lesser known artists of all music styles waiting to be discovered. This year’s opening weekend made no exception to the rule. Big Bands like the Roosevelt Jazz Band from Seattle, the Kansas University Jazz Ensemble, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Faculty Jazz Ensemble and the Brighton & Hove Youth Big Band performed in the afternoons during the entire weekend.
In addition of these “big bands”, I highly appreciated the latino music group Zule-Max from Cuba. They would have easily filled the place in front of the stage, but rainy weather as well as the soccer world cup kept the public away from the free stages on the first evening. The blues Swiss/Mauritian duo The TWO as well as the Swiss sister-duo Sheera’z had more luck with the weather and quickly attracted the crowd on Saturday.
[box_light]Headliners of the weekend[/box_light]
The honor of opening this 48th edition on July 4th went to the Scottish singer and songwriter Amy Macdonald. She played in Montreux in 2012 as well as at the Tribute to Claude Nobs back in February 2013. The multi-talented artist started her concert with a perfectly suitable song for the date, 4th of July from her latest album Life in a Beautiful Light. Besides her brilliant songs against drugs, against climate change and time and time again about human superficiality, she also charmed the audience talking in her Scottish accent. The bad weather in Montreux on the opening day made Amy think she must have brought Scotland’s horrible weather with her.
The supporting act of Amy Macdonald’s concert was Jack Savoretti. He is not new to the Montreux Jazz Festival. He performed back in 2011 on the free Music in the Park stage and even got the chance to open Deep Purple’s concert during the same edition.
On July 5th, those who missed the Belgian singer and songwriter Selah Sue at the 2012 edition of the festival received another opportunity. She creates an amazing mixture of styles between soul, funk and reggae with an impressive voice. Her deception was visible as she announced at the very beginning of her concert that Belgium just lost the soccer quarter-finals in Brazil. Selah Sue impressed the audience with intimate and intriguing solos as well as suddenly powerful moments by the group. The audience gave the impression of knowing all her songs by heart.
On July 6th, the Stravinski Hall of the festival put out blues music at its best. It started with the Tedeschi Trucks Band formed by husband-and-wife musicians Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi who won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. The amazing soulful voice of Susan Tedeschi combined perfectly with the guitar performance by her husband.
The living symbol of the Chicago blues Buddy Guy followed the Tedeschi Trucks Band. He gave what was for me my favorite concert so far in this edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival, an incredible voice combined with superbly performed guitar solos. I am still unsure if he was posing for the press photographers or just having fun with us to see which mimics can produce most photos.
The festival is not over yet. It was just the opening weekend and this article does not even cover it all. The festival will close on July 19th.
These and more photos are under flickr