Switzerland

Montreux Jazz Festival

 

 

 

 

 

Set in a spectacular location on Lake Geneva with the Alps as a backdrop, the first Montreux Jazz Festival was held in 1967 at the Montreux Casino.  It lasted for three days, featuring the American Charles Lloyd Quartet as well as 12 European jazz artists participating in a competition.  It subsequently became an annual event, and since the late 1970s it has taken place for two weeks in July, showcasing blues, gospel, soul, rock and other music genres in addition to jazz.  When it became too large for the Casino, it moved to the Montreux Convention Center {which provides numerous auditoriums and event spaces} as well as to parks, trains, boats and indoor settings.  Hundreds of thousands of people attend the events, which include 300 free concerts and some improvised acts throughout the city.

 

Today the festival hosts scheduled performances, workshops and competitions for guitar, solo piano and voice.  The three ticketed venues showcase well-known artists, and have featured performances by Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana and James Brown, amongst many others.  In 1971, while the band Deep Purple was waiting to perform, someone from the crowd fired a flare gun at the wooden roof in the Casino, which immediately caught fire. This led to the writing of “Smoke on the Water”, which has turned out to be their most popular song.

 

Festival activities expanded over the years with the formation of the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation, which focuses on educational projects and the training of a new generation of artists. Since its inception, the festival has recorded all of its concerts, which now includes more than 5,000 hours of live music, and has been recognized by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme.

 

 





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