This year is the 50th anniversary of the Montreux Jazz festival. Founded in 1967, the festival takes place over two weeks each summer on the shores of Lake Geneva. And I had the great pleasure of experiencing it with Parmigiani Fleurier.
So how big is it? well, It now draws 200,000 fans every year. While jazz and blues have always been at the heart of the event, other genres of music are now featured. Artists such as Miles Davies, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder have all performed at Montreux. Having been at the festival this year myself, I was struck by just how relaxed and intimate the environment was. Speaking to those who have come year after year – all said that what they particularly enjoy about the festival is the fact that it hasn’t lost its soul as its grown.
It wouldn’t be possible to talk Montreux, without mentioning the legendary Claude Nobs, who founded the festival back in 1967. By all accounts Nobs was a wonderfully entertaining character, who would regularly host legendary private parties for the artists at his chalet in the hills above Montreux. After apprenticing as a cook, Nobs worked in the Tourism Office of Montreal. Later in his career he met the then-president of Atlantic Records, Nesuhi Ertegün on a trip to New York, which proved pivotal in the formation of the festival as we know it.
Prior to the concert yesterday, I was given a tour around Nobs chalet up in the hills of Montreux. Boy was he a collector! Every room had a host of eclectic items from around the globe, including motorbikes, bronzes, model trains to vuvuzela’s (you remember those highly irritating trumpets used by fans at the South African football World Cup?). What an experience. If only walls could talk. Nobs passed away at the age of 76-year-old when he suffered a fall while practicing cross-country skiing during his Christmas holidays.
Performing yesterday evening was WoodKid. Now, I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure of who he was beforehand. However, I left a HUGE fan. Woodkid is an author, composer, singer, and producer from Lyon. Having studied illustration, animation, and screen printing before moving to Paris, he has since worked on projects with Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift to some amazing effect.
The man brought the house down. A number of the Parmigiani Fleurier team, many of whom had been in attendance for years, all agreed they had never seen an atmosphere quite like it! Just to give you a vibe for the man, take a look at his smash hit ‘Iron’ below and then after that it’s wristshots galore.