50th Montreux Jazz Festival celebrates freedom

Deutsche Welle
2 Min Read

Major rock, pop and jazz musicians bump shoulders in Montreux from July 1-16. It is no longer a purely jazz festival, emphasizing instead creativity. Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, PJ Harvey and ZZ Top will be there.
Mention “jazz festival,” and people immediately think of Montreux. The festival in Switzerland is an institution – and has been for 50 years. But music is not pidgeonholed there; pop and rock greats like Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash and Herbert Grönemeyer have all occupied the Montreux stage, as have jazzers Les McCann, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

In its anniversary year, the lineup reads like a Who’s Who of the international music scene, with Santana, Al Jarreau, Deep Purple and Simply Red. Highlights also include Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, a 50-year gala organized by Quincy Jones, ZZ Top, Slayer, Van Morrison, PJ Harvey, Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Lana del Rey and Patti Smith.

UNESCO world document heritage

Festival founder Claude Nobs, who died in 2013, had the concerts live-recorded for decades – at first, an innovation in the music industry. His goal was to pass the music down to further generations and to preserve it as a cultural heritage. The roughly 5,000 hours of audio and video files were the first audio-visual library to be inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World register.

Interest remains high

Part of the Montreux atmosphere are concerts where artists often perform more freely than otherwise, sometimes in stylistically diverse und genre-bending jam sessions. Accordingly, audiences are curious.

In its 50th year, the #top:Montreux Jazz Festival# presents all the ingredients that have made it legendary: jam sessions, workshops, concert movies, DJ parties and concerts on trains and boats. Not least of all, more than 100 free concerts on the shore of Lake Geneva and in local parks satisfy a wide range of music lovers, whose total numbers are once again expected to exceed 230,000.

jb/so/rf (dpa, Jazzfest Montreux)

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