Montreux Jazz Festival

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Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux Jazz affichage lumineux.jpg
Official logo by Jean Tinguely (poster 1982) reinterpreted by Giovanni Riva for the 50th anniversary of the festival in 2016
Genre Jazz, rock, pop
DatesFirst fortnight of July
Location(s) Montreux Convention Centre
Grand-Rue 95
1820 Montreux
Years active1967–present

The Montreux Jazz Festival (formerly Festival de Jazz Montreux and Festival International de Jazz Montreux) is a music festival in Switzerland, held annually in early July in Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline. It is the second-largest annual jazz festival in the world after Canada's Montreal International Jazz Festival. [1]



The Montreux Jazz Festival opened on 18 June 1967 and was founded by Claude Nobs, Géo Voumard and René Langel [2] with considerable help from Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun of Atlantic Records. The festival was first held at Montreux Casino. The driving force is the tourism office under the direction of Raymond Jaussi. It lasted for three days and featured almost exclusively jazz artists. The highlights of this era were Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Evans, Soft Machine, Weather Report, The Fourth Way, Nina Simone, Jan Garbarek, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Montreux Jazz Festival 1983 poster designed by Keith Haring Montreux Jazz Festival (1983).png
Montreux Jazz Festival 1983 poster designed by Keith Haring

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. Part of the festival's expansion was due to coproduction by Quincy Jones, who brought many international artists in the early 1990s. 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, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, Canned Heat and many others. 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 and 1980. Other artists included B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Weather Report, Don Ellis, Crossfire, Buddy Guy, Camarón de la Isla and Tomatito, Soft Machine, Chuck Berry, Peter Tosh, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Eric Clapton, Luther Allison, Bo Diddley, Stan Getz, Airto Moreira, Joe Henderson, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ney Matogrosso, Charles Mingus, Etta James, Sonny Rollins, Son House, Count Basie, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Gilberto Gil, Ray Charles, James Booker, Hermeto Pascoal, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Rory Gallagher, Marianne Faithfull, Elis Regina, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Pasadena Roof Orchestra, New Order, Jaco Pastorius, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Toto, Zucchero Fornaciari, André Geraissati, Korni Grupa, Jan Akkerman, Joe Satriani, Status Quo, Prince, and many more.

Initiator and head organizer Claude Nobs brought an array of artists to Montreux. [3] Mathieu Jaton has organised the festival since Nobs' death in 2013.


The festival was originally held at the original Montreux Casino, which burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa's performance (as referenced in "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple). 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 Montreux 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 Montreux Musique & Convention Centre (though the Casino still hosts the odd one-off shows), owing mainly to logistics: the Casino is approximately 1 kilometre (1,100 yd) 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, Auditorium Stravinski (capacity 3,500) and Miles Davis Hall (capacity 1,800), 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.

Venue history

Venue history
16–18 June 1967 Montreux Casino
12–16 June 1968
18–22 June 1969
17–21 June 1970
12–20 June 1971
16–29 June 1972Pavillon Montreux
29 June 15 July 1973 Montreux Convention Centre
28 June 7 July 1974
3–20 July 1975Montreux Casino
25 June 6 July 1976
1–24 July 1977
7–23 July 1978
6–22 July 1979
4–20 July 1980
3–20 July 1981
9–25 July 1982
8–24 July 1983
6–22 July 1984
5–20 July 1985
3–19 July 1986
3–17 July 1987
1–17 July 1988
7–22 July 1989
6–21 July 1990
9–29 July 1991
10–22 July 1992
2–17 July 1993Montreux Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/The New Q's)
1–16 July 1994Montreux Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
7–22 July 1995Montreux Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Montreux Casino
Montreux Jazz Café
5–20 July 1996
4–19 July 1997
3–18 July 1998
2–17 July 1999
7–22 July 2000
6–21 July 2001Montreux Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Montreux Casino
Montreux Jazz Café
Scène Bleu
5–20 July 2002Montreux Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Montreux Casino
Montreux Jazz Café
Montreux Jazz Young Planet
Montreux Jazz Club
4–19 July 2003Montreux Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Casino Barrière de Montreux
Montreux Jazz Café
Montreux Jazz Young Planet
Montreux Jazz Club
2–17 July 2004
1–16 July 2005
30 June 15 July 2006
6–21 July 2007Montreux Musique & Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Montreux Jazz Café
Montreux Jazz Young Planet
Montreux Jazz Club
4–19 July 2008Montreux Musique & Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Montreux Jazz Café
Montreux Jazz Young Planet
Montreux Jazz Club
MDH Club
Studio 41
Music in the Park
3–18 July 2009
2–17 July 2010
1–16 July 2011
29 June 14 July 2012
5–20 July 2013Montreux Musique & Convention Centre
(Auditorium Stravinski/Miles Davis Hall)
Montreux Jazz Café
Montreux Jazz Young Planet
Montreux Jazz Club
MDH Club
Studio 41
Music in the Park
Montreux Jazz Lab
4–19 July 2014
3-18 July 2015
1-16 July 2016
30 June – 15 July 2017
29 June – 14 July 2018


The festival changed in the 1980s: it grew dramatically and included an even wider variety of music styles. [4] Jazz remained important, as did Brazilian music, but more rock and pop artists were also invited.

Miles Davis came to Montreux several times, British hard rock band Deep Purple were invited as headliners eight times, and Status Quo have headlined the festival twice. Other notable artists at Montreux were Sandra, 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, Rory Gallagher, Leonard Cohen, Nina Hagen, Eric Clapton, Queen, 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, 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. Young, talented musicians are encouraged to take part in several competitions.


Three international competitions are organised by the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation [5] every year: Solo Piano, Guitar, and Voice. Each competition has its own jury composed of professionals and chaired by a world-renowned musician (in 2008: Fazıl Say for the Piano Solo, Lee Ritenour for the Guitar, Patti Austin for the Voice competition). In addition, until 2016, a local competition, the Tremplin Lémanique, was 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. [6]


Over 1300 artists have performed at the Festival from 1967 to 2016, with the most appearances by Herbie Hancock (27 times) and B.B. King (21 times).


Australian Youth All Star Big Band performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2004. AllStars MJF 3.jpg
Australian Youth All Star Big Band performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2004.

Albums recorded at the festival

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  1. Mutter, Zoe (6 July 2015). "Meyer Sound LEOPARD takes to the Montreux jazz stages". AV Magazine. Metropolis Business Media. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. "Géo Voumard, a Founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Agence France-Presse. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2008.
  3. "Claude Nobs". Montreux Jazz Festival. Archived from the original on 2 November 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  4. "Evolution of genres in the Montreux Jazz Festival". 29 July 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  5. "Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation" . Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  6. "Patrimoine du Canton de Vaud: Montreux Jazz Festival". Archived from the original on 24 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.

Coordinates: 46°26′20″N6°54′16″E / 46.43889°N 6.90444°E / 46.43889; 6.90444