The 51st edition just ended yesterday. It is almost impossible to imagine the lakeside city of Montreux without the annual Montreux Jazz Festival. Half a century of existence has resulted in the creation of some legendary material – images, recordings and publications. The archives of the festival are so important that it is on the UNESCO « Memory of the world » register.
In summer of 1967, Swiss chef and tourism promoter Claude Nobs transformed his love of jazz into the seed of a global phenomenon along the shores of Lake Geneva. Sure, other festivals now draw larger, younger and less well-heeled crowds. But in the terms of sheer music history, none have richer pickings. Notable moments include artists Prince bringing down the house – everybody on their feet – only three summers ago. The festival has been the stage for the creativity of big names such as Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, B. B. King and Nina Simone.
The Montreux Jazz Festival is not just one more music festival. The town doubles its population during the festival. Most events take place by the lake and the lakeside promenade has a fantastic evening atmosphere as music bursts from different stages, temporary restaurants sit over the lake and people bustle past the street food and watch the free bands in the parks.
[box_light]The 2017 edition[/box_light]
The eclectic music offer included musicians like Herbie Hancock, Chilly Gonzales, George Benson, Ibrahim Maalouf, Grace Jones, Max Richter, London Grammar, Pet Shop Boys or Lianne La Havas.
Besides the paying concerts, the Montreux Jazz Festival is always a great place to enjoy a generous number of lesser known but talented artists on various free stages as well as quite a few jazz schools from all over the world. This edition was no exception to the rule.
“It was a dense and complex edition,” said festival director Mathieu Jaton with a broad smile on Friday’s closing press conference. Among the major performances of the past two weeks were those of Tom Jones, Royal Blood, London Grammar, Lauryn Hill, Solange and Erykah Badu. The concerts of Ibrahim Maalouf, Tinariwen and Michael Kiwanuka on Thursday evening also provided goose bumps. Mathieu Jaton especially emphasized Grace Jones’ concert.
With a total of 230,000 visitors and 90,000 tickets sold, the figures for this year’s festival are slightly below those of the previous year – but because of somewhat poor weather conditions on some days, Montreux is still satisfied.
The next Montreux Jazz Festival will begin on June 29th and last until July 14th 2018.