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A Look Back at the Montreux Jazz Festival

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Mathieu Jaton, who gave the commencement opening address at EU Business School Munich’s 2014 ceremony has continued to impress after taking over the legendary founder of the festival, Claude Nobs, after the latter’s tragic death in 2013. He described the 49th edition, which ended on Saturday, July 18th, as a dream. The weather was in stark contrast to last year’s festival when it rained for a record 12 days in a row and the music was better than ever. EU is thrilled to have taken part in the festival as an atypical partner.

The unique culture of the MJF means that collaboration is encouraged; this year, Irish folk singer Damien Rice combined with the previous act, Nils Frahm, who blends classical jazz and electronic music. The unlikely pairing did not even know each other until they looked at the set list, but decided to blend their two distinctive styles – a true success of the freedom of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Headliners Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga stole the show at Montreux

As expected, the headline act of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga were in perfect harmony and blew crowds away with their 100-minute non-stop show. Quincy Jones, who worked with Bennett as far back as 1966 (20 years before Lady Gaga was born), introduced the pair, claiming that the act “would be Claude’s [Nobs] definite dream”. The sold-out crowd lapped up the classy performance, and gave the biggest cheer for Gaga’s rendition of Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose.

Lionel Richie took social media by storm with his comical t-shirt

One surprising star came from veteran Motown singer Lionel Richie. He exuded energy on the shores of Lake Geneva, continuing his successful summer during which he made waves at Glastonbury and on social media with his “Hello, is it mud you’re looking for?” in reference to the typically terrible weather at Glastonbury and Richie’s hit Hello. He rolled back the years with hits like All Night Long and proved that he certainly hasn’t lost his magic.

Sam Smith, who recently recovered from surgery on his vocal chords, gave a brilliantly smooth performance in his first appearance on the legendary shores of Lake Geneva. However, at only 23 years old, he was already familiar with the festival before singing there himself. “Wow, this is amazing to me for many reasons, I get to play a jazz festival which is historic. I saw Claude Nobs’ house yesterday and got to see all the history that has happened over more than 40 years, all of my idols,” said the four-time-Grammy winning singer.

John McLaughlin (left) with Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana, a true Montreux icon and returned this year for his 13th edition, accompanied by John McLaughlin. At 67, Santana shows no signs of slowing down and put on a blistering display of his trademark face-melting solos, while remaining as cool and composed as expected from the veteran guitar hero.

If I could clone myself, one of the ‘me’s would live in Switzerland.
– Carlos Santana

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil’s friendship and musical connection was clear through their complete dialogue of guitars. With samba and bossa nova rhythms, the Brazilian Duo brought an exotic, Latin feel to Switzerland.

Montreux and music fans everywhere are already waiting with baited breath for next year’s 50th edition, which will surely prove to be one of the most memorable musical occasions of the 21st century.