by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
Successful First Weekend at Montreux
The Montreux Jazz Festival is the premier music festival of the summer. While others may be larger, this fest has a huge variety to please everyone. There are 2 paid venues with jazz, blues, Latin and world music with stars like B.B. King, David Sanborn, Buena Vista Social Club members to reggae artists, hip-hop and DJs for entertainment for people 8 to 80. The fest includes jazz trains and jazz boats which not only provides fine music, but shows off the beautiful scenery in the Swiss Alps.
The Grand Opening concert in the Stravinski Auditorium at the Montreux Jazz Festival was jam-packed with a variety of sounds, including more live music in the lobby between acts. British blues guitarist and harp player Chris Rea opened the concert ; then renowned blues legend Buddy Guy wowed the crowd until midnight when former members of the Grateful Dead entranced the remaining audience for two more hours.
Chris Rea did not seem to disappoint the crowd, even though most songs were slow blues with a slide. The tempo never seemed to change throughout his set. The presence of an accordion player and Montreux founder, Claude Nobs on harp on a tune, provided the only change to the set.
Contrast that performance with the wild antics of Buddy Guy, who had the crowd where he wanted them: gazing at him constantly and cheering his every move. Guy did not disappoint either. He jumped from the stage and walked through the audience out into the lobby all the while doing a solo.
By midnight the blues fans had gone, but there was another act, the Rat Dogs made up of Bob Wier and Robert Wasserman. It was the Grateful Dead all over again. They performed the familiar tunes and the encore was the famous « We Will Survive ». The small crowd that remained was the dancing, loving group that follows the Dead. The Rat Dogs are in Europe to expand their style of music to a new audience. There were many Europeans who also have been following them, judging by the accents of the fans in the hall.
One criticism of the festival has to be the occasional mismatch of acts on a bill. Unfortunately, the fans of Buddy guy are not necessarily the same people who are enthralled with the style of the Rat Dogs.
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
Two Bluesmen Open the Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland (APS) The thirty-sixth edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival blasted off on July 5th with two hot blues artists. British guitarist and harp player Chris Rea and renowned guitar-legend Buddy Guy performed to a jam-packed crowd in the Auditorium Stravinski.
Chris Rea opened the show and did not seem to disappoint the crowd, even though most songs were slow blues. He used a slide on most songs like "Burning Feet" and "Easy Rider". Unfortunately, the tempo never seemed to change throughout the set. The presence of an accordion player and festival founder Claude Nobs on harp provided the only change to the set.
Contrast that performance with the wild antics of Buddy Guy, who had the crowd where he wanted them: gazing at him constantly and cheering his every move. Guy did not disappoint them either. He performed straight-ahead blues along with some classics like "Mustang Sally". The music had a full and powerful sound thanks to the Hammond B3 organ on stage. One memorable slow number was "Fever" which Buddy Guy sang with gut emotion.
There was no encore but Guy gave his all. At one point, he jumped into the crowd and walked through the audience out into the lobby all the while doing a solo.
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
B.B. King Becomes Tradition at Montreux
Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland (APS) If anyone could do it, it had to be B.B. King. He has become an institution at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He has been performing there now since 1979 and both festival founder Claude Nobs and the fans do not seem to tire of his shows. In fact, at this year’s workshop where B. B. met with fans to discuss music and the blues, a bust of King was unveiled. At last year’s show, the clay was molded on stage and finished during the year. While the unveiling occurred at the workshop, the general unveiling happened the next evening when festival founder Claude Nobs, the mayor of Montreux, and B. B. King got together for the "ribbon-cutting".
His show indicates why B.B. King has become the institution at Montreux.
His eight-piece band opened the show with "Summertime" and then Blues Boy comes onto the stage. At 76 years old, King does not disappoint. While he must sit in a chair during his performance, due to weak knees, his hands are in top form. He started the show with "Let the Good Times Roll", I’ll Survive", and "Bad Case of Love".
He does not just play a note and let the band do the rest. He has the vocals, the delivery, and those facial expressions when he plays those licks. By the time he got to the powerful tune ""I’ve Never Had Piece of Mind", the crowd was mesmerised. Then he led into one of the tunes for which he is famous: "Caledonia". It was easy for him to coax cheers from the satisfied audience in the sold-out event.
Mid-set, the horn section left the stage and it was blues how it was meant to be played. All the familiar King tunes from "Early in the Morning", " I Ain’t Got Nothing but the Blues" Just Like a Woman" to the medley "Three O'clock", "Rock Me Baby", and "Give Me One Kiss before I Leave". Then the horns came back and King did the signature tune which took him to the pop charts in 1973 ("The Thrill is Gone").
Once again, there was a jam session at the end of the night with Joe Sample and 5 guitar players from a band that was performing in the lobby between sets. Add in a couple of harp players, including festival founder Claude Nobs, and you have a party. BB King kept control of
the solos, giving them all 24 bars and then going around again for 12 bars. However, it was starting to drag during that second round, but BB's charm kept the fans cheering. The show ended about 1 am as the crowd funneled into the lobby to listen to more live blues until 4 am.
The evening started with one of the famous R&B stars of the 1970s, Isaac Hayes. He went through a repertoire of new and his classic songs like from the Hot, Buttered, Soul album. But the big mystery on the audience’s mind was where were the horns. Hayes had keyboard players, 4 of them including him. The keyboards did the horn work but for a performer that is known for the orchestrations, it seemed a little odd.
Great set though from slow tunes that "witnessed" to the audience to funky upbeat numbers that had everyone dancing. Of course the show ended with the famous Shaft theme.
Montreux Jazz Festival July 6 and 7
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
It has been a wonderful weekend.
On Saturday, Isaac Hayes and BB King were at the Stravinsky Auditorium. Hayes had keyboard players, 4 of them including him. But where were the horns? Must be a strong union! The keyboards did the horn work but for a performer that is known for the orchestrations, it seemed a little odd. Great set though from slow tunes that "witnessed" to the audience to funky upbeat numbers that had everyone dancing. Of course the show ended with the famous Shaft theme.
BB King, at 76, does not disappoint. While he must sit in a chair during his performance, due to weak knees, his hands are in top form. He does not just play a note and let the band do the rest. He has the vocals, the delivery, and those facial expressions when he plays those licks. He played a number of his famous tunes and coaxed cheers from the satisfied audience in the sold-out event. Once again, there was a jam session at the end of the night with Joe Sample and 5 guitar players from a band that was performing in the lobby between sets. Add in a couple of harp players, including festival founder Claude Nobs, and you have a party. BB King kept control of the solos, giving them all 24 bars and then going around again for 12 bars. However, it was starting to drag during that second round, but BB's charm kept the fans cheering. The show ended about 1am as the crowd funneled into the lobby to listen to more live blues until 4am.
Sunday night had many acts on both stages. The Miles Davis Hall was the metal night with Watcha, a French group with several albums out. Then Soulfly took to the stage to wail with more metal. Soulfly is Max Cavelera's new band- you remember him from the Brazilian band Sepultura. His mix of classic metal à la Black Sabbath and the South American spirituality in folk make him the Bob Marley of metal, as some have called him. Finally, the crowd was exposed to another classic metal act, Slayer. No one was disappointed by 1h30 when the concert ended.
Contrasting the sold-out metal concert, was the less that full attendance in the Stravinsky Auditorium, where there was mix of guitar blues, funk/rap and hard rock! Joe Satriani started the evening and the guitars in that hall were louder than in the metal concert downstairs. Satriani is a great guitarist and one can see in his playing, his influences, along with the how he has influenced younger guitarists. But how many solos can you do and make things sound different. It can be done, I am sure, but Satriani failed to do it this evening.
The next act, with David Stewart (Eurythmics) and Gary Mudbone Cooper from the P-Funk gang (George Clinton, etc.) hit the stage with a truly different show. Da Universal Playaz had a mix of soul and funk with Cooper singing with feeling. Along with him to stress his lines was a young woman rapping or calling out as he sang. Just like in the Sunday praising in America's black churches. The blending of voices and styles was definitely pleasing to the listener. Add the rhythm section, Stewart on guitar and a DJ (yes!) scratching during the songs, and one gets an interesting and melodic set from these well-known performers. Check them out.
Finally, hard British rockers Bush ended the evening with many familiar tunes from their many albums. Gavin Rossdale's high-energy performing and unique vocals keep your interest throughout the set, from the slower numbers to the rocking songs familiar from the radio/videos. Rossdale's solo version of Stone Temple Pilot's Glycerine was not only a tribute to STP, but to Gavin's own interpretive expertise. Grunge with a certain style.
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
Blues to Funk to Rock Hit Montreux on Sunday Evening
Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland (APS): The Stravinski Auditorium was host to a variety of music on July 7, 2002. The music spanned the spectrum of the blues of Joe Satriani to the soul and funk of Dave Stewart and Gary Cooper to the rocking sounds of contemporary rockers Bush.
The show opened with guitarist extraordinaire Satriani with a quartet of straight-ahead guitar music. Satriani is a great guitarist and one can see in his playing, his influences, along with the how he has influenced younger guitarists. All the songs were instrumental and they highlighted Satriani’s guitar virtuosity. From "Mindsorm" played on a 7-string guitar, through many more guitar solos, one soon realized that Satriani is a technical wizard. But ho-hum, let’s hear a melody, a tune or something. How many solos can you do and make things sound different. It can be done, I am sure, but Satriani failed to do it this evening. Satriani did play harp also to add a little variety to his show.
A new project, created by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper from P-Funk and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, were the next act at the big stage. hit the stage with a truly different show. Da Universal Playaz had a mix of soul and funk with Cooper singing with feeling. Along with him to stress his lines was a young woman rapping or calling out as he sang. Just like in the Sunday praising in America's black churches. The blending of voices and styles was definitely pleasing to the listener.
Add the rhythm section, Stewart on guitar and a DJ (yes!) scratching during the songs, and one gets an interesting and melodic set from these well-known performers. It was quite different show than the previous act. They managed to keep the audience entertained with songs like "Freedom’s Coming", a melodic tune reminding us to love our fellow man. The song’s structure was quite different with the rap background accentuating the singing. Very interesting. Finally, the Eurythmics’ classic tune "Missionary Man" ended the set.
The hard rock sounds of Bush made for an energetic ending to the evening. Gavin Rossdale's high-energy performing and unique vocals keep your interest throughout the set, from the slower numbers to the rocking songs familiar from the radio/videos. Rossdale's solo version of Stone Temple Pilot's "Glycerin" was not only a tribute to STP, but to Gavin's own interpretive expertise. Grunge with a certain style.
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
Biréli Lagrène’s Gipsy Project Makes a Mark at Montreux
Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland (APS): The Stravinski Auditorium was host to the acoustic sounds of Romania on July 17, 2002. Biréli Lagrène hosted a set of melodic music reminiscent of the gypsy master, Django Reinhardt. The evening was a melange of instruments and performers as Biréli Lagrène combined various musicians on stage. It was the passionate tradition of the gypsy soul on one stage.
Lagrène entered the stage with two other guitarists, violinist Florin Niculescu and bassist Diego Imbert. Their songs were upbeat and kept in the genre. The tight band provided the background to Lagrène’s quick and tasty fretwork. After a few songs, the band leaves the stage and guitarist Sylvain Luc joins Lagrène for one tune and then leaves the stage. Then guitarists Rosenberg and Schmitt returned to the stage with Lagrène for some acoustic sounds. When they left the accordion player, Richard Galliano, joined Lagrène as a duo before all the musicians returned to the stage for a bouncy rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown".
Since the audience begged for just one more, Lagrène came out to do a solo number. The hall cleared but the music of Romania was fresh in our memories.
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
Dr. John at the Right Place
Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland (APS): New Orleans blues and eclectic musician Dr. John performed in the Stravinski Auditorium of the Montreux Jazz Festival last July 17 as part of a three-group concert of various styles. Dr. John sat at a grand piano, where he also had access to an electric piano. His trio of guitar, bass, and drums surrounded him and provided vocal harmonies to the evening’s repertoire of tunes.
Starting the evening with a famous blues novelty, "Makin’ Whoopie", Dr. John set the stage for the night of entertainment. Great piano work on every song from Louis Armstrong’s "You So and So" to the funky "Holding Pattern". Then he pays tribute to Duke Ellington along with a rendition of "It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got that Swing" with the Dr. John touch. He even got out of his seat to dance with the song.
Guitarist Renard Poche had the Hendrix look and the obvious playing influences especially on some of the tunes from Dr. John’s new album Creole Moon. A rocking tango-type tune complete with guitar solo had the audience on their feet even before Dr. John told them to get out of their chairs to dance.
His concert would not be complete without "Right Place, Right Time" and a few other classics, where his voice which changes up and down, wavers, and growls. This is his trademark, which has made him a dominant person in the blues/R&B world since the 1970s.
by Mark "Toomey" Bonardelli
Blues/Rock Innovator Play Montreux
Montreux, Vaud, Switzerland (APS): Well-known but less-renowned musician Ike Turner took to the stage at the Stravinski Auditorium on July 19 as part of a Reggae and Rhythm evening. Ike Turner is definitely a founder of rock and roll. He was performing race music in the 50s when the white audiences were beginning to seek out this rhythm and blues. But Turner never received the accolades that B.B. King, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry were getting for being the "founders" of rock and roll.
Ike Turner, born in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1931, experienced music quite early in life. Little Ike took piano lessons from Pinetop Perkins at 7 years old. Turner performed in B.B. King’s band as a pianist in the 1940s and the led many Delta musicians to the famous Sun Records studios in Memphis. He played with and recorded with Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Little Milton, Elmore James, among others. It was at Sun where he released "Rocket 88", which some claim to be the first rock song. He states that blacks artists were doing that Rhythm and Blues for many years before "being discovered".
Picking up the guitar in the early 1950s, he developed a distinctive sound. Moving to St. Louis in 1954, he continued his career with recordings on the King/Federal labels (King was James Brown’s record label). He was close enough to the Chicago scene, so he recorded there under the auspices of Willie Dixon.
In St. Louis, he met a great singer, Anna Mae, who would become his wife. Ike and Tina Turner Revue would impress large pop audiences in the 1960s due to their tour with the Rolling Stones. As many readers already know, the couple went their separate ways after a very public feud.
At his press conference the day before the show, Ike reflected on his career. While somewhat bothered by the separation of music based on colour in the early years of rock, he looks at the positive aspects of that era. It was Chess Records and Atlantic (Ahmet Ertigen) that were helpful in getting race or black music to the big audiences. After some drug problems in the 1980s, he mentioned that he has been clean since 1989 and that he has been building his career once again.
He has always been in the background and perhaps that is why the recognition has been slow to come. It was Tina up front years back, but he liked it that way. He was shy, he admitted, but now he is front and center. On stage there are two keyboards on either side of him, and he plays keys too, but then will pick up and play guitar. His ten-piece band included 3 horn players.
Ike walked out on stage with a silver jacket that glittered in the spotlight. Opening with an instrumental version of "Have Mercy on Me", his colleagues did a guitar and sax solo to get the crowd revved up. Then he stood up and put on his guitar and into a nice arrangement of "Tequila". He made the transition easily from guitar to piano and back to play other blues numbers like the mellow "You Can’t Win Them All" to the upbeat "Baby’s Got It", which is on Ike’s new album, Here and Now. Then back on guitar with "Sweet Black Angel", using his famous whammy bar.
Who would have thought the overplayed "Johnny B. Goode" could be welcomed by the audience. Ike Turner took the standard and made it a hot number! Then stood up to play down and dirty blues. The crowd loved him and cheered wildly. Turner was truly touched; one could see him crying on stage and his voice cracked as he thanked the crowd.
The show moved to the next phase where Turner told us he would play some "shit-kicking music". It was the country-flavoured "Mama Don’t Like Guitar Playin’ ‘round Here". Then he invited Audrey Madison onto the stage, a Tina look-a-like with a great voice. They did the tune "Only Women Bleed" which, given Ike’s abusive history, seemed to be a "mea culpa" to the world. In Otis Redding’s "I’ve Been Loving You Too Long", Audrey sweet voice was juxtaposed with Ike’s rough voice in a back and forth singing full of sexual innuendoes. And to freak out all of us, the last song was "Proud Mary". I was surprised that he would perform that song due to the bad memories, especially since he asked the reporters not to ask about Tina in the press conference. Nevertheless, the song was a hit with the audience and Ike was coaxed to come back to do Sly Stone’s "I Want to Take You Higher". This evening’s show was excellent and in the back of your mind you knew that you were seeing one of rock’s true legends.
Web Master an article of Toomey's
August 24, 2003