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For the 1967 American festival, see Monterey Pop Festivalmarker.
For the Montreal Jazz Festival, see Montreal International Jazz Festival.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is the best-known music festival in Switzerlandmarker and one of the most prestigious in Europe; it is held annually in early July in Montreuxmarker on the shores of Lake Genevamarker.


The Montreux Jazz Festival was founded in 1967 by Claude Nobs, Géo Voumard and René Langel. The festival was first held at Montreux Casino. It lasted for three days and featured almost exclusively jazz artists. The highlights of this era were Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Evans, Soft Machine, Weather Report, Nina Simone, Jan Garbarek, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Originally a pure jazz festival, it opened up in the 1970s and today presents artists of nearly every imaginable music style. Jazz remains an important part of the festival. Today's festival lasts about two weeks and attracts an audience of more than 200,000 people.

In the 1970s, the festival began broadening its scope, including blues, soul, and rock artists, for instance Marianne Faithfull, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, Prince and many others. In December 1971, Montreux Casino burned down (an event memorialized in the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water"). The festival was forced to move until the new Casino was ready in 1975.

Towards the end of the decade, the festival expanded even more, including music from all continents (with an emphasis on Brazilian music) and lasting a full three weeks. Santana came to Montreux for the first time in 1970; Van Morrison played in 1974. Other artists included Weather Report, Camarón de la Isla, Soft Machine, Chuck Berry, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Eric Clapton, Bo Diddley, Stan Getz, Airto Moreira, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Charles Mingus, Etta James, Sonny Rollins,Son House, Count Basie, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Gilberto Gil, Ray Charles, James Booker, Hermeto Pascoal, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Elis Regina, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Pasadena Roof Orchestra, New Order, Jaco Pastorius, Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, André Geraissati, Korni Grupa, Joe Satriani, Status Quo, and many more.

The initiator and—as of 2008—still the head organizer, Claude Nobs, has managed to bring an array of artists to Montreux, both established ones and newcomers (see, for example, [53705]).


The festival was originally held at the old Montreux Casino, which burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa's performance. ("Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple tells that story.) The festival was held then in other auditoriums in Montreux, until it could return to the rebuilt new Casino in 1975. The festival continued to grow, and in 1993, it moved to the larger Convention Centre. From 1995 through 2008, it occupied both the Convention Centre and the Casino. Beginning with the 41st MJF in 2007, nightly performances of headliners were again moved mainly to the Convention Centre (though the Casino still hosts the odd one-off shows), owing mainly to logistics: the Casino is approximately from the Convention Centre, making it difficult for crew, artists and technical personnel (as well as fans) to travel easily through crowded streets from one venue to the other. (This is exacerbated by the presence of a large number of streetside vendors and artisans - as well as strolling crowds of tourists - on the lakefront walk that connects the venues.) As of 2007, the Convention Centre hosts two main stages, Stravinsky Auditorium and Miles Davis Hall, as well as the smaller Montreux Jazz Cafe, and several smaller open-air stages around the Centre. Additional themed shows (Bahia, Blues, etc) are held on boats cruising the lake and train cars traveling the region, and various workshops and competitions are held at the nearby Montreux Palais and Le Petit Palais.


The festival changed in the 1980s: it grew dramatically and included an even wider variety of music styles. Jazz remained important, as did Brazilian music, but more and more rock and pop artists were also invited.

20th anniversary poster (1986) designed by Andy Warhol and Keith Haring

Miles Davis came to Montreux several times, also British hard rock band Deep Purple were invited as headliners five times. Santana returned in 1980. Other notable artists at Montreux were Max Roach, James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Wynton Marsalis, Art Blakey, John McLaughlin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, Al Di Meola, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Cliff, Steel Pulse, Mike Oldfield, Brian May, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Hagen, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Joe Cocker, Los Lobos, The Manhattan Transfer, Tracy Chapman, and Van Morrison again.

The expansion that began in the 1980s has continued since then — Montreux transformed from a jazz festival into a world music festival. Quincy Jones co-produced the festival from 1991 to 1993. By 1993, the festival had outgrown the Casino and moved to the larger Convention Centre. The number of visitors rose from 75,000 in 1980 to 120,000 in 1994, and an "Off-festival" developed on the lakeshore promenades and in the cafés of Montreux.

Many "regulars" returned, but many new artists also appeared on stage: Sting, Bob Dylan, Fats Domino, Deep Purple, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, Johnny Cash, Cheap Trick, Cheb Mami, Youssou N'Dour, Marianne Faithfull, Ice T, Jazzmatazz, ZZ Top, Simply Red, Eric Clapton, Marisa Monte, George Benson, Jazzkantine, Alanis Morissette, David Bowie, Paul Simon... In 1999, the festival saw more than 220,000 visitors.

The festival has also played host to some well-known and talented student groups, including big bands and vocal ensembles.

The expansion has also prompted a DVD series to be released showing the sets of a number of great artists from a range of genres playing at the festival. The series, entitled 'Live at Montreux' includes performances from artists such as:


Three international competitions are organised by the Montreux Jazz Festival Foundation 2 every year: Solo Piano, Guitar and Voice. For each competition a jury composed of professionals and chaired by a world famous musician (in 2008: Fazil Say for the Piano Solo, Lee Ritenour for the Guitar, Patti Austin for the Voice competition) award the three prizes. In addition, a local competition, the Tremplin Lémanique, is aimed at jazz bands that are based in one of the regions of the Léman lake: the French departments of Ain and Haute Savoie and the Swiss cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais. All the information is available on: []. The yearly deadline to apply is April 15.

The Montreux Competitions are part of the free events of the Festival, along with the workshops, the archives projections, the exhibitions and the free concerts in the park. All these events are organised by the Montreux Jazz Foundation 2 -



Albums recorded at the festival


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