Ella Fitzgerald, who performed at the 1969 Montreux Jazz Festival, would have welcomed this year's event - opened by three female singer-songwriters. She might have been less impressed, however, by the high prices. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Amy Macdonald, Ayo and Agnes Obel got the head-bobbing and foot-tapping off to a start on Friday, with other attractions being Outkast, Massive Attack and Jamie Cullum.
The hottest tickets, however, are for Pharrell “Happy” Williams and Stevie Wonder, with fans being asked for up to CHF450 ($500). Festival organiser Mathieu Jaton says founder Claude Nobs, who died in January 2013 and who never managed to attract Wonder, would be “thrilled” that the pop and soul legend is finally taking to the Swiss stage.
While the Montreux Jazz Festival “adds bling to Switzerland’s otherwise stiff, unemotional image” – to quote Nicolas Bideau, head of Presence Switzerland, the government office in charge of the country’s image abroad – some people question whether the word “jazz” still belongs in the title.
In Montreux the definition of “jazz” is elastic, according to Swiss aviation pioneer Bertrand Piccard, who appreciates the eclectic mix of genres on offer. As will the 230,000 other visitors to the musical celebration, which runs until July 19.