If there was ever a party that you knew about, and wished you could have attended, this would be it for me. I wish I could have been at the Montreux Jazz festival in 1969, or possibly 1972. My awareness of the power of music started with the 1969, the Les McCann & Eddie Harris album, “Swiss Movement” [1]Ahmad Jamal described the album as “one of the greatest records I ever heard.” – it opened with the uptempo”Compared To What”, written by Gene McDaniels [2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_McDaniels.

The only time I attended the Montreux Jazz Festival was in 2004. That year I had qualified to represent Great Britain in the European Triathlon Championships, they were held on July 4th in Lausanne, Switzerland. Lausanne is some 16-miles from Montreux and three of us set off on the afternoon of July 2nd to see Faithless at Montreux [3]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=La6VLv4Iwk8. We took the local train with our triathlon bikes and a couple of locks. Sometime around 11p.m. We ended up riding back to Lausanne in the dark, no lights. Hardly safe or great preparation for a triathlon but we’d been to the Montreux Jazz Festival, at least in name.

Over the years there have been many “Live At Montreux” albums, CDs, DVDs and films. Back a couple of years ago I posted the film of the The CTI Jazz All-Star Band at Montreux in 2009, on youtube. It’s embedded below. The band are introduced by a smallish, older man in a proto-typical French accented English. According to the DVD sleeve notes, the “MC” is Claude Nobs [4]Of course, I knew that as I added the DVD to discogs [5]https://www.discogs.com/release/19852948-The-CTI-All-Star-Jazz-Band-Montreux-Jazz-Festival-2009. If you are like me, I’d heard of legend of Claude Nobs [6]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Nobs, but didn’t really know anything about him or the backstory to the festival.

Yesterday, while working on reorganizing my vinyl collection and re-stacking the shelves, I had time to put on the 3-part mini-series “They All Came Out To Montreux”. It was remarkable. Suffice to say not much work on the shelves happened. The series was originally released in March 2023 and is currently on limited release. At this point, the only place I can find that is streaming it is the BBC in the UK [7]https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m001n2n1/they-all-came-out-to-montreux.

I contacted Marc Myers (jazzwax) who was a contributor to the film, I asked him if he knew what the release schedule was, Marc tells me “It’s supposed to be in select theaters and will likely be available via streaming in Q1 of 2024.” So this is one to watch for, as we start the run-in to the end of the year. Even though I’ve been able to pre-screen it, I’d still love to see it on a big screen.

The official trailer only gives a small insight into Montreux. It’s both a bio-pic on the legend of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s creator, Claude Nobs, and of the festival itself. Many great jazz stars make a fleeting appearance, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones more so than others. The series does include tracks from numerous performers, but it’s really not a music documentary, it’s a film about the festival.

If you are interested in longer concert performances, reelgood has a great service for tracking and finding services that are streaming [8]https://reelgood.com/search?q=live%20at%20montreux. The Internet Archive also has some performances but sadly not many of the great Jazz perfomances [9]https://archive.org/search?query=montreux+jazz+festival&page=2&and%5B%5D=mediatype%3A%22movies%22.

I learned from the film that Claude Nobs had the foresight to record and film the festivals from day-1. Nobs died January 10, 2013 (aged 76), but as the film says “he passed it on”. Put it on your watch list!

Bonus Trailer

Oliver Murray has a video about the legendary Ronnie Scotts jazz club in London. Released in 2020, at least here in the US it is available currently on Apple TV+ [10]https://tv.apple.com/us/movie/umc.cmc.4rng1bzkax0m1rdi6c36eavfq.

RONNIES_Clip 1_Roland Kirk Performance from Oliver Murray on Vimeo.

Further Information

They All Came Out To Montreux – Background and details on the film series [montreuxjazzfestival.com]

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