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Montreux gears up for musical blast-off

ZZ Top will be performing at the Montreux festival in July swissinfo.ch

This year’s Montreux Jazz festival is once again set to be a sold-out event, thanks to a heady mix of musical styles.

This content was published on July 4, 2003 - 08:58

Jamiroquai, Simply Red, George Benson and Radiohead are just a sprinkling of the artists gracing the line-up of one of Switzerland’s most prestigious music events.

Claude Nobs, the festival’s founder, is unfazed by comments that jazz does not feature enough in this year’s programme.

He says he has heard these comments for the past 30 years, but it hasn’t stopped the festival from securing its place among the word’s most popular jazz events.

“Jazz purists as well as fans of rock, pop, reggae, world music and electronic sounds will not be disappointed, as there’s always going to be something for everybody,” he said.

Nobs has brought in a broader range of musical acts over the years to ensure the festival’s survival and growth.

More than jazz

Only two evenings of the festival’s two-week run are entirely dedicated to jazz in the event’s main venue, the Auditorium Stravinsky.

George Benson and Natalie Cole will be joined by Yemenite singer, Noa, on Gala night (July 6), while on July 17, Steve Connell, Patti Austin and a multitude of other voices will take to the stage to celebrate the Concord record label.

But it’s the Casino Barrière that has become the hub of jazz acts.

The line up at the Casino includes: Michel Jonasz (July 11), Bireli Lagrene and a groups of others honouring guitarist Django Reinhart (12), the crooner Tony Bennett (14) and Swiss acts Jean-François Bovard and Pierre Audétat (18).

Stravinsky and Miles Davis

The Auditorium Stravinsky, as always, is hosting to the biggest acts, be they old timers or more recent discoveries.

Some of the more long-standing names playing on stage include Jethro Tull, making an appearance after an absence of 35 years (July 4), Van Morrison (19) and ZZ Top (20).

Newer acts coming to the auditorium include Radiohead (5), Morcheeba (9), Craig David (10) and Tom McRae (9).

Meanwhile, the Miles Davis Hall, which has not always been able to fill its seats in the past, looks set to reach its sales target even before the first concert begins.

The Hall is hosting a series of electronic music nights, with an Electro Pop night (6), an Electro Disco Rock night (19) and the Worldwide night, with DJ Gilles Peterson.

There will also be events for fans of reggae, soul and hip-hop.

Alternative festival

In addition to the main events, there is also the alternative festival which has around 300 events planned around town, on boats and special trains. The Montreux Jazz club and Montreux Jazz Café also have entertainment planned to take enthusiasts into the small hours.

The festival also hopes to discover the next big thing in the world of jazz music. Music competitions, aimed at rooting out new talent, will focus this year on the piano, the saxophone and singing.

Amateur musicians the chance to meet famous acts face to face in a series of workshops. This year, Noa and Charles Lloyd will be among the established names imparting their wisdom.

With a budget of SFr15 million ($11.2 million), 12 stages and 2,000 musicians, Montreux Jazz Festival is once again set to transform the small town in French-speaking Switzerland into a hub of musical activity.

swissinfo, Bernard Léchot (translation: Joanne Shields)

Key facts

The 37th Montreux Jazz Festival takes place from July 4 to 20.
The festival was founded by Claude Nobs in 1967.
The three main concert venues are the Stravinsky Auditorium, the Miles Davis Hall and the Casino Barrière, but there are also a number of other smaller venues.

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