One of the world’s biggest annual jazz festivals, the Montreux Jazz Festival, will celebrate its 50th anniversary this July.
What started as a humble three day event at the Montreux Casino in 1967, it progressively grew over the decades to become a two-week music festival featuring the world’s biggest names in Jazz, Blues, Rock, Soul and Pop including the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Count Basie, Keith Jarrett, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Prince and Portishead to name a few.
Entertaining about 250,000 visitors annually, this year’s event (from 1-16 July) will feature a special line up of artists across its four venues of Casino Barrière, Stravinski Hall, Montruex Jazz Lab and Montreux Jazz Club to commemorate the festival’s incredible milestone.
Director of Switzerland Tourism, Mark Wettstein, says not only will visitors witness and enjoy extraordinary line ups that will see well-known legendary musicians and fresh new talent share stages, but a number of specially created projects will ensure the city is drenched in music and festivities to celebrate the occasion.
Montreux Jazz Festival lowres
Some of the big names and new blood performing this year include Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Sigur Rós, Pa i Smith, Lana Del Rey, M83, Muse, Ernest Ranglin and Friends, Scofield Mehldau Guiliana, Christian Sco, Jean-Michel Jarre, Future, Simply Red, Beirut, Grimes and a host of others. There will also be performances by well known Latina American, Caribbean and African artists including Ana Carolina, Vanessa Da Mata, Dobet Gnahoré, Ernest Ranglin, Alfredo Rodriguez Trio and many others.
As part of the 16-day celebration this year, the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation have organised tributes to David Bowie and to Swiss Movement. There will also be a showcase of Swiss pianist, Nik Bärtsch, and his project, Mobile Continuum, at Chillon Castle; and visitors will also be treated to thematic live performances on the water aboard the Montreux Jazz Boats and all the way to the mountain tops via the Montreux Jazz Trains.
Montreux Jazz Festival lowres
“The Festival’s stage that is the shores of Lake Geneva is a very special place for visitors and music fans,” says Mark. “With the picturesque mountainous backdrop, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Lavaux vineyards down the road, the moated Chillon Castle a short ferry ride away, the newly opened Chaplin’s World by Grevin in Vevey a short bus ride away and the panoramic Golden Pass Train / Chocolate Train at the doorstep, visitors will be encouraged to keep their itineraries filled with memorable activities to complement their equally memorable musical experiences during their visit.
“Queen fans will also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the group’s former studio at the Casino Barrière, where they recorded the last songs released in 1995 (from the album “Made in Heaven’). Here, fans of Freddie Mercury can marvel at the countless souvenirs and eclectic wardrobe pieces of the eccentric musician,” says Mark.
To commemorate the occasion, a book entitled “50 Summers of Music” will be published, featuring carefully chosen photographs that document the musical adventure over the half century; and an interactive video will take fans through the major highlights of the musical journey.