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Live Reviews

Montreux Jazz Festival 2010: Grand Geneva Finales

By Published: August 12, 2010
Actually, amidst an almost perfect storm of happily raging instrumental interactions, everyone showed the power of righteous restraint. The songs were excellent but in truth, the parts were just as great as the sum under these circumstances. How far the Imagine Project reaches or endures remains to be seen. It could conceivably rotate players and classic tunes season after season. At the very least, Hancock and friends showed the concept was well worth it in terms of kick ass bands alone.

Besides, any concept that has "Space Cowboy" on its set list has a heart in the right place. Hancock, a classic, cosmic soul man himself, has a lifetime pass to the musical pilot's seat on any worthy "rockit." Tonight, the synthesis engines were on full throttle.

Into the Night

A pair of the free programs most interesting offerings came back to back as a waxing moon presided over Parc Vernex. Mac Abbe et le Zombi Orchestra are a face-painted quartet from France who are equal parts stage show and band, a kind of Spike Jones spinoff with some legit chops to accompany their gimmick. The "macabre" pun is definitive. Think of the band for a Munsters wedding and you've got the picture, candelabras and all, definitely one of the best Halloween party combos to haunt a stage.

Next came a great set of tribal island beat hopping that was hip enough without urbanization. The group billed as Nana'n'kho featured some primary members from Senegal and were definitely one of the very finest acts in the park. This seemed to be one of the most diverse, high quality programs in recent seasons. Anyone who couldn't find loads to love must not enjoy live music.

Montreux Jazz is not only jazz, not half the time, but still just jazz enough. The experience is enchanting for any musical taste. As the sun set or moon shined softly to create hypnotizing light patterns across the lake, multiple jazz notes throbbed like beacons of calm in a crazy world.



Maybe the most charming thing is that Montreux Jazz remains relatively small enough that the festival makes a noticeable difference in the makeup of the town. Necessary commercialization doesn't bury the spirit of the scene. Like other increasingly rare destinations on the planet, Montreux is not only an exquisite experience but also a unique state of mind. Many music festivals have a wandering tourist vibe around either the grounds or more intangible intellectual properties.

In Montreux it seems the local language for two weeks is jazz in many similar dialects. Word gets around. Ironically the packed double 2am sardine can buses crammed with a weary wide variety of people is a fitting image. Some general concert schedules were set with earlier starts than in prior years to allow less pre-dawn bus stop overcrowding, but the majority of the crowd stayed late whether they attended the main marquee shows or not.

Once again, on what many travelers treat as a justifiable jazz pilgrimage, the faithful showed up, at an amazing altar to musical art. Once again, as almost every visitor to Montreux Jazz finds, the journey was rewarded.

Photo Credit

Lionel Flusin: Mark Knopfler, Quincy Jones, Richard Bona, Lionel Louke, Francisco Mela, Herbie Hancock

Daniel Balmart: Phoenix

David Bjorken: Tal Wilkenfeld

Odile Meylan: Zombi Orchestra


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