Montreux Jazz Festival 2016

Ian Patterson By

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Montreux Jazz Festival 2016
Various Venues
Montreux, Switzerland
July 9-12, 2016

No matter at what point, or for how long you dipped into the Montreux Jazz Festival during the seventeen days of its 50th edition, the sense of history was palpable. Charles Lloyd was present, just as he was in 1967. Deep Purple and Dweezil Zappa formed a poignant double-header on MJF 50's final night, recalling the 1971 fire at the old Montreux Casino during a Frank Zappa concert that gave birth to Purple's rock anthem "Smoke on the Water."

Heavyweight names—and old friends all of the MJF—graced the program in significant numbers: Quincy Jones; John McLaughlin; Van Morrison; Al Jarreau; Carlos Santana; Monty Alexander; Angelique Kidjo; Randy Weston; Buddy Guy; ZZ Top; Joao Bosco; Simply Red -representing the MJF's long association not just with jazz, but with blues, soul, rock, pop and 'World' rhythms.

Workshops and giant photos paid tribute to David Bowie and Prince, who passed away within a few months of each other. Both enjoyed a special relationship with the MJF and its legendary founder Claude Nobs.

Nostalgia and tribute, as might be expected, were not in short supply, but so too was the sense of continuity, with the free Music in the Park stage providing a platform for school and university bands from Switzerland, Holland, France, the USA and the UK—an MJF tradition that goes back to the early 1970s—where big-band standards from Glen Miller to Weather Report rubbed shoulders with full-on tributes to Snarky Puppy and Frank Zappa.

The same stage also showcased a kaleidoscopic range of artists, from up-and-coming talent like the UK's Chris Read Quartet to veteran ensembles like French popsters Les Innocents. Cuban son and Brazilian capoeira set feet and pulses racing, while vocal ensembles, Celtic folk and alt-rock bands meant there was something to suit just about all tastes.

Musical diversity, as ever, was apparent at every turn, not just on the main program either, but in the dedicated rock club, the dance venue Strobe Club and in the form of the numerous buskers who enlivened the lakeside promenade, where food and beverages, merchandising, and arts and crafts stalls did brisk business. Reggae, Senegalese kora, didgeridoo, rock and folk practitioners all brought their unique spice to the festive atmosphere.

Yet, to suggest that the MJF, even in this landmark edition was rooted in nostalgia would be to miss the bigger picture, which is, and always has been, one of innovation, education and inclusion. A workshop to create a giant MJF canvas, a delightfully fun photo-bombing booth—where anyone could 'bomb' iconic photos from the MJF archives—a jazz choir and dance workshops were just some of the special participatory projects this year.

The internationally renowned MJF voice, guitar and piano competitions once again encouraged some of the best international talent, helping to provide a successful launching pad for a fortunate few. The presence in the Montreux Jazz Club of sixteen-year old Chinese pianist A Bu—winner of the MJF Solo Piano Competition in 2015—was testament not only to the leg-up the MJF can give to emerging talent, but also a sign of the growing reach of jazz in an area of the world not usually associated with the music.

Naturally, the figure and legend of the late Claude Nobs, the spiritual father of MJF—and one of its founders back in 1967—loomed large throughout the festival's 50th edition. It could hardly have been any other way. From the stages, musicians paid verbal and musical homage to Nobs, the indefatigable Director of MJF for the guts of those fifty years until his death in 2013.

With an avenue and a bar named in Nob's honor, and a wonderfully quirky mechanical sculpture on the lake shoreline dedicated to Nobs, there were plenty of permanent monuments to the founding-father of MJF dotting the Montreux landscape.

More than anything, however, MJF 2016 was about huge crowds of all ages and nationalities digging the musical feast. And what a feast it was!

Day 10: Saturday, 9 July

Pedro Martins

Winner of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition in 2015, Brazilian guitarist Pedro Martins was making his third appearance at the MJF, at the head of a quartet comprised of bassist Frederico Heliodoro, drummer Antonio Loqueiro and keyboardist Felipe Viegas. Martins lifted the wraps on new material from his as-yet unreleased CD, produced by Kurt Rosenwinkel, the follow-up to his debut, Dreaming High (Adventure Music, 2013).

During the five-song set Martins demonstrated not only a fine technique, but an imaginative, melodic approach to soloing. Martins' self-penned tunes followed a broadly similar blueprint, where vocal and guitar melodies worked in unison, with harmonizing vocals from Heliodor and Loureiro evoking, to some extent, the Pedro Aznar-era Pat Metheny Group. It was fine for the first couple of tunes, but as the set wore on the pattern grew just a little predictable.

Martins' cleanly articulated, flowing improvisations—undoubtedly impressive—were the high-point of numbers characterized by insistent vamps and well-defined motifs, though had he conceded any of his band members similar elbow room for self-expression, the overall effect might have greater. Still only twenty two, Martins is, inevitably enough, still honing his compositional skills; the prospect of his writing one day approaching the level of his noteworthy playing remains an exciting one.

Gregoire Maret & The Inner Voice Ensemble

Swiss harmonica player Gregoire Maret is best known, at least in jazz circles, for his mid-2000s stint with Pat Metheny, which brought him a Grammy for The Way Up (Nonesuch Records, 2005). However, Maret already boasted an impressive pedigree, having previously recorded with Jacky Terrasson, Jimmy Scott, Jeff "Tain" Watts and Steve Coleman. In fact, Maret has been in such high demand since the late 1990s, on a dizzying array of other people's projects, that it wasn't until 2012 that he released hiseponymous debut as leader.

Four years on, Maret's new release, Wanted (Sunnyside, 2016) was getting its first European run-out at MJF, with a core group of organist Ondre J., bassist Robert Kubiszyn and drummer Marcus Baylor. It was clear from the first number that Maret's considerable chops were balanced by a keen sense of group dynamics, with the rhythmic intensity oscillating subtly and effectively.

On several numbers the group was augmented by vocalists Monique Meale, Kersha Bailey, Raffaele Crolla and Stephanie Fisher, whose lush harmonies added breadth and depth to tunes that ranged from jazz-funk groovers to soulful, Manhattan Transfer-esque fare. Special guest Zara McFarlane, with her hybrid jazz-nu soul style, was a perfect match for the broad vocabulary employed by Maret, who switched seamlessly between caressing lyricism and exhilarating, tumbling improvisations.

A feel-good set was peppered with Maret's virtuosity, though never at the expense of the songs. Maret's compositions, his sound, drew from gospel, soul, funk, blues and jazz, to create a delightful brew that left the crowd baying for more.

Chico Freeman

Few tenor saxophonists have played in such diverse settings as Chico Freeman. Though steeped in jazz traditions as diverse as Dizzy Gillespie, Sun Ra and Wynton Marsalis, Freeman has also played with the biggest names in Latin, blues and R&B—from Tito Puente and Celia Cruz to Memphis Slim, The Temptations and Michael Jackson. This concert, however, steered a steady course through progressive jazz of the post-John Coltrane variety, with the opening track "Elvin"-a nod to Elvin Jones,with whom Freeman collaborated extensively in the 1970s----setting the tone for what was to follow.

The guts of the set highlighted material from Spoken into Existence (Rens Newland, 2015), the group alternating between searching impressionism, rhythmically pulsating post-bop, and bluesy balladry. Most of the meatiest solos were shared between Freeman and pianist Antonio Farao—notably on the early bar-setter "Erika's Reverie"—while bassist Heiri Kaenzig and percussionist Reto Weber brought buoyancy and textural shading to the mix. Weber slipped in and out of the line-up, his absences as noticeable as his contributions. His deft African percussion and melodic Hang rhythms were at the heart of his atmospheric "Five Days in May."

The quintet chemistry was pronounced on fiery material like the Farao-penned "Free Man" and "Black Inside," with the leader in expansive form. Freeman, however, is both a nuanced balladeer and a fine blues player, as witnessed on slower tunes like the mellifluous "Dance of Light for Luani"—with the leader beguiling on soprano saxophone—and the romantic "Niskayuna," written by Kanzig. And it was with the sultry, aptly titled "Soft Pedal Blues" that Freeman and quintet drew a line under a consistently persuasive set.

Day 11: Sunday, 10 July

Jazz Boat

If there were prizes for the most stunning locations for a jazz festival then MJF would surely be a podium contender. Montreux sits by Lake Geneva—one of Europe's largest lakes—which lies on the course of the River Rhone. The town rises up the slopes of the southern hills, with church spires and crenelated, castle-like edifices peppered among the stylish villas. Just a little way out of the town vineyards cover the hillsides.

On the opposite side of the lake, rugged Alpine mountains dominate the skyline, with the last vestiges of snow clinging to the upper extremities. The clouds and sun combine to deliver an ever-evolving light show on the peaks and steep-sided valleys. Little wonder that musicians and fans alike return year after year, seduced by the panorama.

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the spectacular scenery during MJF is to take either the Jazz Train, which winds its way through the mountains, or hop on the Jazz Boat, and let yourself be transported gently around the lake. Live music is a feature of both options.

It was a packed Jazz Boat that left Montreux's shore at three thirty on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon. The music was already in full swing as the last passengers embarked. Downstairs, Zumbido's one-stringed bass, clarinet, alto saxophone/accordion and drums got the party going with swinging New Orleans sounds. On the upstairs deck, Florence Chitacumbi's classic soul and R&B had them dancing.

The boat's bars were bustling and in no time at all the atmosphere was delightfully festive. Some never left the music's siren call, while others never ventured far from the ship's outer decks, preferring to soak up the scenery, with the music in the background. Small boats cruised the lake every which way, while high above, the indigenous red kites shared the air currents with paragliders.

After ninety minutes, the old-style jazz of The Ladies Swing and the funky Lamuzguele took over the two floors, ensuring there was no let-up in the music. Revellers of all ages and from all over Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, made for a very cosmopolitan party that left everyone in high spirits, in more ways than one, as they disembarked a little over three hours later. An essential part of the MJF experience.

Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo first came to MJF in 1986 as part of Jasper Van't Hof's Pili Pili and has won the hearts of MJF crowds on each of her subsequent appearances, as leader of her own bands. The Beninese legend returned to the Stravinski Hall for the first time in six years at the head of all-star cast of African women singers. In Benin alone, as Kidjo told the audience, there are ten million people, fifty langauges and different rhythms from village to village. So rich, so diverse, is the music of Africa that Kidjo's MJF 2016 project was designed specifically to celebrate this cultural wealth, and in particular, the strength and talent of the continent's women.

To this end, following one of Kidjo's typically powerful, and enchanting vocal/guitar duets, the band kicked into high gear, as one by one, Asa (Nigeria), Dobet Gnahore (Cote D'Ivoire) and Lura (Portugal/Cape Verde)—joined the music. For the next two hours, the singers and backing musicians rotated, with solo, duet and complete ensemble turns mesmerizing the crowd. Beninese backing vocalists Trio Teriba—who recorded with Kidjo on her wonderfully eclectic album Eve (Savoy, 2014) were central to much of the music; their solo spot, blending percussion and gorgeous close-knit harmonies, and on another number with Kidjo, provided set highlights.

Gnaore's rendition of "Na Dre," the title track of her excellent 2014 release set the bar high, though there was none of the explosive dancing that was a feature of her unforgettable set at Bray Jazz a few months earlier. The Ivorian star was then joined by Kidjo for a sunny duet. Asa and Lura likewise enjoyed solo spots followed by duets with Kidjo, with Asa's reggae-tinged "Fire on the Mountain" and Lura's sensuous, Latin-flavored "Na Ri Na" real crowd-pleasers.

Kidjo, however, remains the brightest star among the constellation of African women singers, and her voice—and her moves—remain as compelling as ever. On the sing-along "Mama Africa," Kidjo moved through the crowd, singing and dancing to the refrain. The crowd returned the favour, with a number of the brave-hearted climbing onto the stage for the finale, where Kidjo's percussionist led the woman, one by one, through some impassioned dancing.

Just as the great Miriam Makeba paved the way for Angelique Kidjo and those of her generation, Kidjo in turn continues to be an inspiration, both musically and as a figure of empowerment for African women, to Asa, Gnaore, Lura and to the female stars of the future.

Brazilian Night

Billed as a tribute to Claude Nobs, Brazilian Night was a reminder of just how much Brazilian music has been a part of the MJF's identity, since 1974, when Flora Purim led an ensemble featuring Airto Moreira and Milton Nascimento. Since then, Brazilian greats such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paulinho DaCosta, Gilberto Gil, Hermeto Pascoal, Elis Regina, Jorge Ben and Caetano Veloso have graced MJF's stages. This was truly an all-star performance, with several generations of Brazilian popular music represented across the night.

Bandolim maestro Hamilton de Holanda was at the heart of much of the early action, his staggering virtuosity the epicentre of lively, jazz-inflected samba and infectious forro. By contrast, veteran Martinho Da Vila, tambourine in hand, led the many Brazilians in the packed Stravinski Hall in a singalong of popular Brazilian tunes. On one tune, the full band backed Da Vila, on another De Holanda provided more intimate accompaniment, but you had the feeling that just the seventy eight-year-old's voice on its own could have held the majority of the crowd spellbound.

There were more singalong tunes than you could shake a berimbau at, with Elba Ramalho, Maria Rita, and Vanessa Da Mata all serenading the crowd. Following De Holanda's brief rendition of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" by way of introduction, Jaoa Bosco, another veteran of musica popular Brasiliera, gave an artful demonstration of the craft of the singer-songwriter. Ana Carolina, with guitar, in an unaccompanied turn, impressed with the strength of her vocal delivery.

After so much romantic song, the return of the band and an injection of samba was welcome, with the floor breaking out in feverish dancing. Quincy Jones—former Artistic Director of MJF and a long-standing friend and ambassador of the festival—then came on stage to introduce the much-loved Ivan Lins, who Jones described as "one of the greatest composers I've known." Whether solo on keyboards, or whether backed by the band, Lins held the audience in the palm of his hand with his trademark, harmonically sophisticated balladry.

Arguably, there weren't quite enough changes of gear across the concert to maintain the interest of the less devoted fans of Brazilian music—there was a lot of traffic back and forth to the bar outside—but there was no escaping the beauty in the music, the heartfelt tribute to Claude Nobs—almost as big a fan of Brazilian music as he was of blues—and the passion of the dancing Brazilians, on this memorable night, for their popular music.

Day 12: Monday, 11 July

Jean Michelle Jarre

There was a sense of expectation about Jean Michelle Jarre's concert at the MJF 2016. In a career that formally began in 1969, the sixty seven year-old electronic/ambient pioneer was making his first appearance at MJF and the Stravinski Hall was duly packed.

Following a recording hiatus of eight years, Jarre has returned with two albums in six months: Electronica 1: The Time Machine (Columbia, 2015), and Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise (Columbia, 2016) -both collaborative ventures with a who's who of electronica, synth-pop and ambient artists. These two recordings formed the backbone of his concert in the Stravinski Hall.

From the opening ambient waves of "The Heart of Noise Part 1," it was clear that the visuals might just be the star of the show. Curtains of primary colors bathed the stage, with Jarre —standing centrally—commanding a bank of keyboards, and electronic drummers/keyboardists Claud Samaud and Stephane Gervais—flanking Jarre left and right towards the rear—dark silhouettes all. An insistent rhythm introduced "The Heart of Noise Part 2," which segued into the equally bouyant "Automatic," inducing clapping from the crowd, as sheets of lights engulfed the stage from all angles.

Jarre addressed the audience frequently, acknowledging "one of the most unique and fantastic music festivals in the world." He spared a special thought for Claude Nobs and his vision for a festival of such diversity and eclecticism.

Inevitably, perhaps, the melodic signature tracks from Jarre's multi-million selling albums Oxygene and Equinox stood out from the ambient textures and techno-derived beats that dominated the set. An exercise in nostalgia perhaps, but it's easy to forget just how significant these albums were at the time. For many, Oxygene was the first album they ever heard in stereo through headphones. The Telegraph's Thomas H Green was on the money when, in a 2008 article, he cited Oxygene as leading "the synthesizer revolution of the seventies."

At times the music tread synth-pop/New Age waters without causing too many ripples, but at no stage were the lighting effects/visual effects anything less than spectacular -a veritable work of art, in fact. Frequently, it seemed as if the space above the audience' heads was a canvas for a brilliantly shifting shawl of colors.

Urgent electronic rhythms signalled "Exit," which featured a video message from former CIA whistle-blower Edward Snowden: "Technology can actually increase privacy. The question is, why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are private details stored in our personal devices any different than the details in our private journals? Asked the Russian-based exile on a giant projection.

"Saying you don't care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. It's a deeply anti-social principle, because rights are not just individual, they're collective, and what may not have value to you today may have value, you know, to an entire population, an entire people, an entire way of life tomorrow, and if you don't stand up for it, who will?"

At times, with the beat operating at pneumatic precision, Jarre, like a club DJ, exhorted the audience to bounce in time. Yet rather than cutting-edge techno, the music at its most urbane was somewhat retro-futuristic. A visual example of this was Jarre's laser harp—a fan of green laser light that he played with gloved hands, a little simplistically, like a giant keyboard. Yet, even allowing for the occasional theatrics or passages of noodling ambiance, Jarre still delivered an absorbing extravaganza.

Electro-pop? Progressive ambient music? Musique concrete? Electronic dance music? Jarre synthesizes all of these like nobody else. The encore could almost have been the instrumental B-side to an old Pet Shop Boys single, but then Jarre has always unashamedly embraced pure melodicism and uncluttered rhythm.

A hit-and-miss soundtrack to the greatest visual feast you're likely to experience, Jarre remains, warts and all, a unique figure in contemporary music/art.

The Shit

Right next door to the Stravinski Hall, The Rock Club served up more raucous musical entertainment on a nightly basis, with The Sex Pistol's Glen Matlock—inevitably enough—packing the club out. The bravely named Berne rock band The Shit might not have attracted quiet the audience of Matlock, but its ballsy, take-no-prisoners brand of rock, expertly executed, was all-conquering.

The Shit maximized the potential force of its unusual formation; two drummers (Pitlee Hertig and Roland Bucher), three guitarists (Christian Aregger, Franz Haussamann and Robert Butler) plus bassist Phillip Thoeni, rocked with punkish energy, whilst boasting significant chops. Butler, the lead vocalist, sang with a bullish conviction that belied the fact he had a broken rib.

Pounding, interlocking drums, grinding bass, thrashing guitar lines and roaring vocals cast a potent spell on the audience. Danceable, mosh-worthy and thoroughly head-banging, The Shit—who would enliven any festival or grungy club—was the shit, and no mistake.

Day 13: 12 July

An Audience with Quincy Jones

A highlight of the MJF for those fortunate enough to attend, was the opportunity to hear the legendary Quincy Jones in conversation with Arnaud Robert—author of 50 Summers of Music (Montreux Jazz Festival/Editions Textuel, 2016). Following a short video presentation of selected highlights from Jones' unparalleled sixty-year career, Jones opened up in front of a rapt audience, giving insight into the forces that shaped his life, his passions and his undying love of music.

Jones wasted no time in praising Claude Nobs and the MJF, which he described as "the Rolls Royce of festivals." There were few revelations that didn't surface in his 2002 autobiography, but the eighty three-year-old Jones was every bit as frank in his opinions in the flesh, describing Chicago, where he grew up in poverty in the 1930s, as "a breeding ground of gangsters."

Yet, the focus of the conversation was squarely on music. Jones talked about his earliest ventures into writing music, at the age of twelve or thirteen, for multiple voices ("I used to write until my eyes would bleed") and his entry into Lionel Hampton's band at age sixteen.

As Artistic Director of MJF in the early 1990s, Jones produced some memorable concerts at MJF, and he shared his memories of the special projects "From Bebop to Hip-Hop" in 1991 and the Miles Davis/Gil Evans project that same year. The links between music, and the roots of music were recurring themes of Jones' conversation. "We were doing rap in Chicago in 1939, when I was five years old. Basically it came from the Imbongi in South Africa thousands of years ago. You've got to know your roots," explained Jones.

The lack of a Minister of Culture in America was a sore point for Jones. "We're trying to get a definitive curriculum in the schools because there's a very complex background to all the music and it would be nice if the kids knew what it was about, because it has as much to do with sociology as it does with culture. Whether it's gospel, blues or jazz, it all came from sociological circumstances."

He spoke of the State Department tours with Dizzy Gillespie to Cyprus and Yugoslavia and of the power of music to bring people together. "Music is powerful stuff," Jones said. "It's like water; could you go a week without music?" he asked rhetorically.

A short Q&A with the audience rendered surprising insights into the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller (Epic, 1982), which Jones produced. "Rod Templeton and myself went through eight hundred songs to get nine," Jones related. "It was worth it though."

As a tireless advocate of children's education, Jones was generous in his praise of the young generation of musicians who have come through the MJF educational programs. "When I was young, Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Ray Charles and [Count] Basie —they put me on their shoulders, and it's just an honor and a privilege to put these kids on our shoulders."

Few have shoulders quite as broad, nor a story quite as inspiring as that of Quincy Jones.

Iiro Rantala & Ulf Wakenius

Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala and Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius's concert was one full of surprises. The opening track, a dizzying hybrid of flashing ragtime figures, elegant interludes and boppish fluidity, was titled "A Shit Catapult." Little about this duo was entirely conventional.

Even old chestnuts like John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" stemmed from refreshingly innovative, dancing arrangements -the two musicians bouncing off each other with brio. Their shared admiration for Esbjorn Svensson was expressed through Rantala's "Tears for Esbjorn," a delicate ballad of emotive import. Eight years after his death in a scuba diving accident, Svensson's presence continues to be felt. Wakenius dedicated an entire album to the Swedish pianist—Love is Real (ACT, 2008)—while Rantala has been performing with Svensson's former colleagues Magnus Ostrom and Dan Berglund in the project EST Symphony, whose debut recording is due for release before the end of the year.

There was real drama in "Breakfast in Baghdad"—a staple of Wakenius concerts with Youn Sun Nah—with scurrying unison lines juxtaposed against free improvisational flights of sustained tension. Tender lyricism suffused "Once Upon a Time in America," while the swinging "Homage to Oscar Peterson"—an extended, exhilarating workout—referenced Wakenius' eleven years on the road with the Canadian piano legend.

The duo explored the light and shade of Mike Mainieri's melodically and rhythmically jubilant "Oops," while Wakenius' "Momento Magico," inspired by Egberto Gismonti's "Frevo," saw guitarist and pianist execute dazzling jazz-classical runs. Wakenius' vocabulary on this thrilling track contained more than a hint of flamenco, the result perhaps of his recent collaboration with flamenco guitarist Gerardo Nunez, due out shortly on the ACT label.

In a rousing finale, the duo ran through a lively, boogie-flavored medley of "Stuff's Stuff" and Stephen Still's "Love the One You're With." For the encore, Rantala and Wakenius gave a playful, if fairly faithful rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke," which set a pleasingly sunny seal on a storming set.

Kenny Barron & Dave Holland

There was a tremendous sense of intimacy about Kenny Barron and Dave Holland's dialog, from the very opening notes of "Spiral"—an experience akin to eavesdropping on the easy conversation of old friends. The set, and indeed the order of the songs differed little from the last time All About Jazz was privileged to catch these two NEA Jazz Masters together—Holland will be officially inducted in 2017—at the London Jazz Festival 2014, but the chemistry was just as pronounced.

Both musicians expressed a seemingly inexhaustible wealth of ideas on a melodically snaking, twelve-minute interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Segment." Though Holland rarely had a moment's pause, comping sympathetically when not soloing, Baron frequently dropped out when Holland soloed, perhaps so as not to overwhelm his acoustically subtle playing.

It was a delight to bask in the sonic warmth of the duo's interplay on bouyant tracks such as "Seascape," but on more delicate tunes like "Waltz for Wheeler" and the ballad "Rain"—and especially any time Holland played unaccompanied—the hubbub from the festival goers outside was intrusive, at least at the very back of the Jazz Club in the media section, and perhaps too, for the rows immediately in front.

The sound at all the concerts at the MJF was consistently excellent, and credit is due to John and Helen Meyer of Meyer Sound, who have been providing outstanding sound systems to MJF since 1986. Therefore, it seems a shame that the enjoyment of an acoustic jazz concert should be compromised—even if only for a small minority of music fans at the rear end of the Jazz Club—for the lack of a bit of double glazing or wall insulation. It's something that the MJF might consider addressing for the next edition.

Barron and Holland were clearly unaffected, and their sparkling performance was rounded off with the spirited "Pass it On," dedicated to the great New Orleans drummer Ed Blackwell, which saw Barron stretch out emphatically over Holland's grooving, probing bass lines. Holland in turn, soloed unaccompanied, and with as much vigour as imagination. The nuances of the encore, "Daydream," were, unfortunately, spoiled by the outside noise.


The 50th MJF delivered more than anyone could rightfully have expected. Diversity and quality were the watchwords. The passion and dedication of the MJF team, not least of which the numerous volunteers, who were really the oil in the machine. A t-shirt that a few of the 1,644 volunteers wore, carried a dictionary-type definition of the word 'staff.' It read: Staff: [nom. m. f.] A passionate person, generous and tireless, who gives of him/herself for no recompense every year so that the magic of the MJF can happen. [See also Star: Superhero].

Without the staffers, Claude Nobs' vision for a festival of global music could never have scaled the magnificent heights, nor reached the milestones that the MJF has over its first fifty years. Endlessly patient and good-natured, they did a wonderful job in making every visitor's MJF experience a positive one.

Nobs' vision, meanwhile, has been carried on and expanded by CEO Mathieu Jatton and his dedicated team. The vision continues to grow, striving to make the MJF ever-more inclusive of all music. Or, in other words, to create musical spaces that welcome all people.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Montreux Jazz Festival/Lionel Fulsin

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