June 9, 2000
VARIETY IS THE MANTRA AT THE MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL
Montreux, Switzerland (APS): July always means Montreux to the music lover. The Montreux Jazz Festival combines jazz, blues, rock, house, and world music in a two-week event snuggled between Lac Léman and the Alps. During this time, music combines with the scenery to swell the boardwalk and streets with visitors from all over the world. As the Montreux Jazz Festival celebrates its 34th year, there are no indications of wear. From its 3-day inception in 1967 to its present size and variety of music, it has become a mecca for performers and fans alike.
The two indoor venues of the Centre de Congrès are just part of this year’s festivities. The "Off" Festival, which includes music workshops, acoustic presentations, themed boats tours and train tours showcases over 1,500 musicians at these venues. In addition, the Jazz Café welcomes 500 artists from DJs to bands to jam sessions. One stage on the terrace of the Stravinski Auditorium and the other stage farther along the boardwalk, provide big band and university jazz bands throughout the afternoons and early evenings. The workshops are a great opportunity to learn a few tips from a famous musician or to get intimate with your favorite performer.
The two indoor stages are the heartbeat of the festival, however, providing a collage of concerts for a variety of tastes. The first weekend showcases the Blues Brothers Band, which includes legendary performers Steve Cropper and Matt Murphy and reggae and African music for the rest of the opening weekend.
Blues is quite popular at Montreux. There is the blues night along with other evenings with blues players on the bill with other styles of music. The Blues Explosion on July 12, will include B.B. King, Gatemouth Brown and his big band. The show’s headliner, B.B. King always has unexpected guests come and jam with him at the end of his set, including festival organizer Claude Nobs. Later on in the week Taj Mahal performs with an evening devoted to Trinidadian music.
The next couple of nights will showcase singers and songwriters like Lou Reed, and various jazz styles too. Al Jarreau will join two veteran jazzmen, who come together with two younger players; the result is Sanborn, Sample, Bona, Blade — a dream quartet for Jazz purists. The saxophonist David Sanborn and the pianist Joe Sample have the kind of stature that makes them benchmarks in their respective disciplines. Richard Bona on bass and Brian Blade on drums may be younger, but they have already proved that they deserve their places alongside their prestigious elders.
Latin music is not forgotten here either with a Cuban and a Brazil night. Michel Camilo Trio, William Cepeda, and Maria Ochoa bring their Cuban talents to bear in the smaller Miles Davis Hall while Geraldo Azevedo, Nana Vasconcelos and others bring in their music from Pernambuco, Brazil to the large Stravinski Auditorium.
As one can hear, music runs the gamut from folk to rock and closing night with have the modern sounds of the Rollins Band along with the 60s group, Deep Purple.
Other events also permeate the Montreux Jazz Festival site. The "Off" festival includes two stages along the lakefront showcasing big bands and college jazz bands. All afternoon and evening, lakeside strollers can listen to music along the almost mile-long walk.
There are music workshops, where the performers host a clinic, to explain their music and demonstrate their playing. B.B. King usually has one every year where he fields questions from the audience and shows them some famous B.B. riffs. This year Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker are among the jazz and other musicians providing the public with a workshop.
Acoustic evenings at the Montreux Palace are quite relaxing in this 4-star hotel. One could sit down in palatial surroundings and believe that you are being personally serenaded.
The Jazz Café, an eclectically-designed bistro, is the meeting place of almost everyone at some time during the festival. While a hang-out for teenagers, it also attracted the post-concert crowd to the music. Events in the café include videos of past Jazz Festival performances, concerts showcasing all types of music, and jam sessions, which, in the past years, have included Carlos Santana and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. If that is not enough, the DJ plays records until 5 am.
Furthermore, the concerts and many interviews are available live on the World Wide Web, meaning that music lovers all over the world are able to see and hear the concerts as they happen.
Two weeks of music, music education, and pleasant diversions occurr at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Web Master an article of Toomey's
August 24, 2003