Even though the Montreux Jazz Festival is still months away, villages close to the resort are getting in the right mood in March by hosting a couple of smaller, more intimate jazz events.
Starting with "Nuits du Jazz" from March 2 to 4, the festival in the hamlet of Chernex above Montreux is now in its 14th year, and will put the accent on jazz, unlike the Montreux Jazz Festival, where pop stars top the bill.
The Chernex event will kick off with "B-Connected", a Swiss band that draws its influences from the music of Miles Davis, Larry Carlton and the Breckers Brothers. Having toured China the past two years, the band claims it's better known in some parts of China than Davis himself.
B-Connected will be followed by the "Hot Blues Band", a 12-piece ensemble from northern Italy, which plays its own brand of soul, blues and rhythm and blues. The band was last in Montreux two years ago where it was a hit at the Off Festival on the fringes of the main event.
On March 3, the Nuits du Jazz will pay homage to the early jazz pioneers. "Daniel Thentz and the Swing Machine" quintet will share the stage with the "New Orleans Jazz Babies".
"De Soul Travellers Quartet" will end the festival on March 4 with its own gospel sounds. The group gives its music a sense of urgency, moving away from the music's spiritual roots in black America.
Three weeks later, the Cully Jazz Festival gets underway in the village of the same name, located on the shores of Lake Geneva. It's considered one of the major events on the Swiss jazz calendar, and has a faithful following because it respects the pure spirit of the music.