KW-14-2016: Leonard Cohen und … die Festivals. Das Montreux Jazz Festival ist das zweitälteste der Welt. Älter ist lediglich das Montreal Jazz Festival in Cohens Heimatsstadt. Das Montreux Jazz Festival feiert 2016 sein 50jähriges Bestehen. Diese Woche wurde das Programm für das 50. Montreux Jazz Festival bekanntgegeben. Leonard Cohen ist nicht dabei, dafür aber Neil Young, Patti Smith u.v.m. – Das 50. Montrezx Jazz Festival 2016 – Text & Fotos: Christof Graf


Das Auditorium Stravinsky in Montreux: Leonard Cohen 2008:  Fotos: Christof Graf



The programme for this anniversary edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival has been constructed like an echo of the historic depth of this Swiss event. Dense and vibrant, this 50th offering merits being examined in detail. It is marked by an array of projects and lineups imagined especially for the occasion, combining great artistic friendships and the promise of fresh new musical talents.

On the marquee among others: Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Sigur Rós, Patti Smith, Lana Del Rey, M83, Muse, Ernest Ranglin and Friends, Scofield Mehldau Guiliana, Christian Scott, Jean-Michel Jarre, Future, Woodkid and Friends, Beirut, Grimes…

At Montreux, each night counts. Over the 16 days of the Festival, the programming is conceived and organized as lineups, with the aim of creating real substance and meaningful links between the three concert halls. The attention we give to detail reaffirms what makes Montreux special: crafting narratives, celebrating the Festival’s living roots, and generating artistic encounters between all the generations of musicians who have conceptualized, are creating, and will continue to fashion the music of tomorrow. This anniversary is the occasion to underscore what drives the Festival: an insatiable desire to “be there”, up close and personal, under the spell of music.


It will all start with Charles Lloyd for an Opening Night at the Casino Barrière, a sacred hall that once went up in smoke on the water, to which we return this year to host the first American jazz musician who came to the Festival in 1967. He will perform with his new quartet: Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland. That same night, Monty Alexander, who will also have top-notch accompaniment, will revisit his landmark album recorded in 1977, Montreux Alexander.

At the Stravinski, the inimitable Quincy Jones will direct an event in tribute to his ties of brotherhood with the Festival featuring the Pepe Lienhard Big Band, which will assemble artists from all generations.

How could we not highlight Brazilian dreams with a high-flying multigenerational concert? Montreux’s heart has always bled green and gold, so the stage will welcome in turn Maria Rita, daughter of Elis Regina, João Bosco, Ana Carolina, Vanessa Da Mata, and more! Angélique Kidjo, a faithful friend of Montreux, will be surrounded by Aṣa, the Trio Teriba, Lura, and the peerless voice of the Ivory Coast’s Dobet Gnahoré, for a carte blanche around African Women All-Stars.

The now traditional Montreux Jazz Academy Project will bring back to the Club the talented young guns from the 2015 Academy under the guidance of their mentors Yaron Herman and Ziv Ravitz.

And then, for love of Montreux, Woodkid, although not touring anywhere else, has decided to invite some of his highest-profile friends (mum’s the word on who!) for a unique creation.

Two other monuments of Montreux history will be celebrated in Creations: “Bowie: The Swiss Years” and a nod to the foundational album Swiss Movement by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, revisited by the musical collective Stade.


The mixing of genres so dear to the Festival couldn’t dream of a better representative for its opening than the out-of-this-world personality of the singer Anohni (aka Antony Hegarty, ex-frontman of Antony and the Johnsons), followed by a breath of fresh Air.

In that concert hall with its unique acoustics we will discover particularly gratifying lineups: two friends known for incisive rock, Patti Smith and PJ Harvey, who is releasing a new album…tomorrow (15 April)! Sigur Rós will share billing with the atomic project of Mogwai, and the enchanting Lana Del Rey will present her new protégé Max Jury. Irresistible! An evening in jazz heaven with the trio of John Scofield, Brad Mehldau, and Mark Guiliana, the drums genius featured on Bowie’s final album, followed by John McLaughlin. Where else but at the Stravinski could you see Buddy Guy and ZZ Top share the stage, to satisfy the hardest core blues fans?

And triumphant returns: Van Morrison, Simply Red, Neil Young’sfirst visit in 15 years, and then Jean-Michel Jarre, who has never before come to Montreux.

And of course some family affairs: Lisa Simone will present her new album with Jamie Cullum in the place where her mother, Nina, was truly imperious. “Uncle Nobs”, as Lisa used to call him, would have been jubilant…

An explosive wink and nod with the double presence of Deep Purple and Zappa the son performing his father’s music. It was in 1971, during his father’s concert, that the Casino caught fire, and the members of Deep Purple, in the audience that day, turned it into the worldwide hit “Smoke on the Water”. The lake, glowing from the neon lights on the promenades, will retain its starring role in the background – a landscape of ineffable beauty – all throughout the festivities.


More close to the Festival’s origins than ever, the Club is what brings together the masters of jazz and the new guard of that musical genre that informs all the others. The presence of the long-fingered magician Randy Weston with his African Rhythms Quintet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Group after luminous group will perform, with such keen musicians as Steps Ahead, Volcan, the Chico Freeman Quintet, the duo of Dave Holland & Kenny Barron, the genius Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin and the amazing artists surrounding him, including Cheikh Lô, Tony Allen and Courtney Pine. And let’s not overlook the reunion of former the bandmates of Miles Davis: Mike Stern, Bill Evans, Darryl Jones and Dennis Chambers.

Biréli Lagrène first came to Montreux in 1981, and at 14 completely subjugated the audience. This worthy scion of Django will be surrounded by top-notch talent: Antonio Faraò, Gary Willis & Lenny White.

The Cuban Latin jazz scene is particularly well represented, notably by the Harold López Nussa Trio, the Alfredo Rodriguez Trio, Richard Bona and his band the Mandekan Cubano, Gonzalo Rubalcaba with his project Volcan, and Aruán Ortiz opening for Randy Weston.

The Genevan who conquered New York, Grégoire Maret, will play the night before trumpet star Avishai Cohen. French-language artists are well represented, with Manu Katché, François Lindemann, and the prolific project French Jazz Quarter bringing together some of the top names in French music: the expat Hugh Coltman, with Airelle Besson, Emile Parisien, Vincent Peirani, Thomas Enhco, Thomas Bramerie and Anne Paceo.

You can’t afford to miss the new faces of jazz: New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott, with hip-hop and rock influences, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant and Manchester’s GoGo Penguin. Blues by the promising Selwyn Birchwood, then Jack Broadbent opening for the legendary bluesman Robben Ford.

Finally, an intimate encounter with the scintillating voice of Keren Ann, with a folk gem of an opening act in the person of Montreal’s unbelievably captivating Basia Bulat.


Once again, the lineups here are painstakingly assembled. At the Lab, the programmers serve up the pleasure of discovery—that’s the guiding principle of this ferocious venue. Here you will find names that will get your pulse pounding: M83, Beirut, Grimes, Other Lives, Mac DeMarco, Kurt Vile (ex-member of The War on Drugs) & the Violators, not to mention the cream of thrash metal Slayer, with Meshuggah, who are not touring widely this summer. In 2016 the Lab is strongly marked by hip hop with the US duo of the moment Future, introduced by A$AP Ferg, the sensations of French rap Nekfeu, PNL, the electric Afro-trap of the new fresh prince of the 19th Arrondissement, MHD, and up-and-coming acts like Vald. Another highlight from France: a fantastic lineup with the crystalline voices of Jeanne Added, Lou Doillon, and the rock sensation Feu! Chatterton.

Electronic music is legion, and is to be consumed without limits: such masters as DJ Shadow, Moderat, Laurent Garnier, and Four Tet hand over to Gramatik, Flume, and Floating Points, and encourage the minimalist experimentations of Iceland’s Kiasmos and France’s Petit Biscuit.

The established voices of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and Glen Hansard will echo others that are still on their way up: Ry X, HÆLOS, Daughter, and the hallucinatory psych-rock of the Allah-Las. And two new voices, one from a faraway land, Australia’s Matt Corby, and one from out of this world, Aurora, demand that you experience them. And, of course, our new soul favorite, presented live at today’s press conference, England’s colossal Rag’n’Bone Man.


Creations are really in the spotlight this year, and the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation knows how to situate them in incredibly beautiful places. Along with the tributes to Bowie and to Swiss Movement, a third Creation will showcase Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch and his project Mobile Continuum at Chillon Castle. And to really get the most out of the idyllic setting of the marvelous Montreux region, music can be experienced pretty much everywhere, with thematic live performances on the water – Montreux Jazz Boats – and all the way to the mountain tops – Montreux Jazz Trains.