And the winner is…

Arta Jekabsone! Here’s a chat with Sabine and Arta right after the award ceremony, as well as some more impressions from the finals. Enjoy!

The Voice Competition Finals

Fabio Giacalone performing ORANGE BLOSSOMS IN SUMMERTIME by Kurt Elling, FOUR by Miles Davis and TIGHT by Betty Carter.

Fabio won the 3rd prize of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2016. Congratulations!

Arta Jekabsone performing FOUR by Miles Davis, LET THE FEELING JUST FLOW: I FEEL YOU and her own composition SUN.

Arta Jekabsone has been elected as the winner of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2016. Congratulations!

Erik Leuthäuser performing IN MY SOLITUDE by Duke Ellington, FOUR by Miles Davis and his own composition CONCLUSION IN A TRAIN.

Erik won the 2nd prize of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2016 and was additionally awarded with the audience prize. Congratulations!

Winner 2016 SHURE Montreux JAZZ Voice Competition

Audience Price: Erik Leuthäuser

Special new Price called: THE JURY PRICE for Cristina Tanase

3rd Price: Fabio Giacalone

2nd Price: Erik Leuthäuser

1st Price: Arta Jekabsone

CONGRATULATIONS to you three wonderful human beings! …right now performing Straith no chaser to say Goodbye to the Audience. It has been two amazing nights and all three musicians are definitely winners. Like Angelique Kidjo says: now your responsibility starts to get better and better and better and make your audience cry!!!

2016 Finals SHURE Montreux JAZZ Voice Competition

Three finalists were selected yesterday: from Italy, Latvia and Germany:

Fabio Giacalone, Arta Jekabsone and Erik Leuthäuser.

In the Jury are Jerome Badini, Joe Farmer, Thomas Rees, Mike Novogratz, Wendy Oxenhorn and the head of the jury is Angelique Kidjo.

5:10 Fabio Giacalone

ORANGE BLOSSOMS IN SUMMERTIME is a smooth Jazz Walz known by Kurt Elling. He sings the beautiful song with so many colors in his voice – from gentle to dark to shiny – everything is already in it. Good choice for a first song I would say. His solo gives space, good build up, short phrases, 16th licks going up, some triads in chromatic sequences. Yes, this guy did some homework! Going back to the theme he shows his popy voice, takes it high and low, falsetto – but everything tasteful.

FOUR is his second song, Fabio smiles and listens to the kicks of the band, gives a short solo and hands it over to Jerry on piano. Now he starts trading fourth with the drummer again together with Jerry o piano. A very joyful and unexpected ending leads the audience to feel

Betty Carters song: TIGHT starts and he gives us the color of Betty Carters voice to introduce the song to us. He is definitely having fun, is playing around, joyful, nice! It’s a concert, not a competition – that’s also how it feels behind the scenes. Fabio has an amazing range – using his voice until the soprano range with a very good intonation, sound and feeling. Yeah – thats jazz, I love it!

5:25 Arta Jekabsone

Altering between Latin feel and swing we hear again Miles Davis song FOUR. She sings a vocals, back stage she told me that she always practiced it with her violin to get it right. She sings it so naturally that you think it is invented in the moment, with such a good feel of swing – wow! After the vocalese she has a scat solo for us – following the stream of ideas, enjoying the situation, the song, the band, the music. This is so nice to look at and so good to listen to.

LET THE FEELING JUST FLOW: I FEEL YOU with an out of time introduction of the piano we get in the mood of the song. She counts in securely and starts a beautiful pop ballad. She sings what she feels and its touching. so many colors in her voice.

SUN – is her own composition based on letvian original poems about the sun – from the start in the morning until the sun goes to sleep. A bass riff in 5/4 set by Jerome gives happiness an – yes – sunshine. An interesting composition, unexpected harmonic progressions, good sense for rhythm makes this a very good piece. Again she scat sings in a straight feel with good syllables, good phrasing and articulation – yes here we really hear a talent. A talent, schooled and willing to go for learning learning, learning more more more … She is a beauty on stage, but in a very natural way, honest and playful – totally into the music, enjoying what the four of them are doing – lets call her Arta Sunshine Jakabsone. I have to say it again: Yeah – thats jazz, I love it!

5:40 Erik Leuthäuser

He builds up his loop machines – and starts singing. He builds up the tune in 3 voices, steps out of the comping part and becomes the lead Jazz singer. IN MY SOLITUDE you haunt me… well, I can describe this for you, but … the good thing: tomorrow you already will be able to watch it and listen. Here in the wordpress blog you’ll find the link to his performance. It’s definitely worth it. I will not describe, I am going to listen and enjoy now… and so should you!

He sings FOUR with German lyrics as a translated version of John Hendricks text. A solo transcription also got lyrics from him: Eddie Lockjaw Davis Solo as a vocalese in German. Its fun to listen to, this is art, joyful and honest. I am so happy to be here – again listening to such great talents. What an amazing opportunity to show your talent to the world – but also for the audience to discover these new artists.

CONCLUSION IN A TRAIN –  he always wanted to use 12tone technique, he said, he tried that and now we listen to the result. The music is beautiful, the band fills the melody with live, with harmony, chords, freedom, space. They are fantastic and lift this tune up. The four of them make the music happen. His voice is beautiful and free, he is young and dedicated, honest and full of music. I hate to say it again but: Yeah – thats jazz, I love it!

The Jury has to decide now. This is not easy. The three of them are fantastic musicians – and also big big talents with a great gift and willing to search for music and develop – WOW!!!

A review of the Semi-Finals. Again, enjoy!

And here they are: the performances of the Semi-Finals 2016. Enjoy!

2016 Semi-Final SHURE Montreux Jazz Voice Competition

5:00 The jury is presented to the audience – of course Ladies first: the head of the jury is Angelique Kidjo and the other 5 jury members:

The musicians enter the stage and the first singer starts.

Three fine musicians support the singers: Jerry Léonide (Mauritius/France) on piano – he won the piano Solo competition in 2013, from Paris the incredible Zacharie Abraham on Bass and the fine tasteful drumming comes from Fred Bintner (Paris) living in Switzerland.

5:10 Camille Barbillon

starts singing the famous song FOUR composed by Miles Davis. Her scat singing is lively, somehow “french” – charming like “Amélie“, definitely inspired by trumpet and with nice unexpected rhythmical accents. Her second song: SOLEIL D’HIVER gives the piano player Jerry Léonide the chance to show us the beauty of jazz harmony in his comping. Beautiful fresh singing, Camille loves this music and thats what she shares with us. Big applause for Camille Barbillon!

5:20 Adelheid Erler

BEBOP LIVES is Adelheids first song – and with her fascinating high clear Jazz voice she celebrates the jazz language Bebop. In the theme she adds some pop embellishments, the drummer Fred Bintner catches every kick of her and brings a gentle end to this kicking song. THE MIDNIGHT SUN is a beautiful jazz ballad – in her version reharmonized in a way that Jazz lovers melt away – especially when it is played the way Jerry on Piano does. Adelheid adds some chromaticism and some pop embellishments. Now the song starts swinging and she scat sings joyful using her voice as an instrument. Coming back to the theme of the song and the beautiful ballad ends. There are defiantly some Austrian friends in the audience cheering up for Adelheid Erler.

5:30 Indre Gasiune

NICAS DREAM is Indres choice out of the mentioned pieces to be sung. She introduces this Horace Silver song with the Brazilian flavor and lightness. Her own choice GOODBYE PORK PIE HAT by Charlie Mingus with lyrics from Jony Mitchel is an all time jazz musicians favorite – talking about racial discrimination in “those days” but also of this big dream of Black and White together. The whole song including the vocalese on a solo of the alto saxophonist John Handy from 1959 got lyrics by Joni Mitchel. Not just the Mingus song is a dedication to Lester Young, Jony also invented a club named “Pork Pie Hat Bar” – an homage to the the incredible Lester Young always wearing this kind of hat. From Vilnius, Lithuania via Paris where Indre lives now – she transports real jazz feel to this Montreux Jazz Competition.

5:40 Fabio Giacalone

STOLEN MOMENTS is Fabios starter. He has a beautiful free sounding voice with well developed low and high register, falsetto, nothing forced. He takes a scat solo, starts it off with short phrases but quickly introducing tension notes. And he goes outside – plays little jazz musicians games – thats great! In a very nice way he leads the band to follow him either to be active and loud or sensitive and quiet. It is very nice to listen to and see him guide “his” musicians. He interprets NICAS DREAM and now adds a quick samba scat – yes, he knows what “phrasing” and “timiming” means in this music inspired from the Southern American culture. A very fine sensitive drum solo from Fred Bintner supports his style of interpretation. If you can talk about SWING in Brazilian Music – Fabio has it! GOOD LUCK; FABIO!

5:50 Arta Jekabsone

“Tonight I will tell you the meaning of love – YOU’RE EV’RYTHING”! This is how Arta introduces the song to the surprised and smiling audience. The song starts with an introduction played by Zacharie Abraham on Bass setting the Brazilian feel. The two of them play the first A-part of the song. This is may be the most difficult song from the repertory the candidates choose from. Arta is just 21 years old, very natural on stage, tells her story within the song she sings and she also scats like telling a story. The second song sounds brand new. Her voice is influenced from todays music, she uses “Millennium embellishments”, distortions of the voice, just a little dash of Belting, very tasteful and beautiful. She is fully aware of all harmonic changes, prepares them in an active way – so without it being too obvious or – she is a musician.

6:30 Esra Kayikci

Ezra introduces the song: “NICAS DREAM – its about Peace and Love, this is what the world needs, also especially my home country Turkey.” A very interesting book about the Jazz Baroness written by a family member Hannah Rothschild tells the interesting story of this unusual woman who flew airplanes in the 40ies and escaped the live of a rich housewife to become a big supporter of the New York Jazz Scene. An Anatolian Poet inspired her second song. The drummer gives a heart beat of this song, the tradition of Turkish singing with quarter tones and beautiful melodic lines is alive in Montreux through Esra. The arrangement gets a nice jazz touch with an added quick line played in unison. She is one with the music and the audience likes a lot what Esra is doing.

6:40 Erik Leuthäuser

LITTLE WILLY LEAPS is a old Bebop Song – Erik gave it some German lyrics. Now its a song about a little boy who jumps. Jumps high and sings Jazz. He scats Jazz. WOW! The first time the audience is really excited. SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE he starts of singing phrases into his loop station. It adds up to a song. In a very tasteful way he uses this modern instrument, fades voices in and out as he sings. There is nothing artificial – it’s all organic and beautiful. We see a nice and humble human being on stage – totally dedicated to Jazz music – in a very hip way. After the first A sections – with different spheric backgrounds he sang before into the machine – it fades into the B-part as “normal” Vocal Jazz with a coming Trio. And he does this very well as well.  Unexpected and very gently they change tempo into a more heavier swing. Now we hear nice, adventurous scat singing, beautiful and honest, it’s bebop tradition at it’s best. After Solos the theme comes again in this quicker tempo and goes out of time after the B-Part. Without a second of doubt his loop machine enters back to bring us back to the first mood he had set for this song. This is such a little master piece of how one can mix loop station with real good jazz singing making it more interesting. Congratulations, Erik! Obviously the audience loves you – good luck!

6:50 Anna Lukshina

She put ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE in a new dress: Some chords are changed and she leads the band through the song – of course the musicians follow at ease. Some surprises put into this very old song makes the audience listen with new ears. She swings the song to the end. FASCINATING RHYTHM by George Gershwin: another arrangement of hers: She starts it out a cappella before the bass gives the root for the Verse of the song. She also really performs the song with the flavor of Musical Theatre. There is an pushing moment of a famous rock bass line she also put in the song. That makes us smile and enjoy her performance.

7:00 Soyoung Park

DON’T GO AROUND MUCH ANYMORE starts off with floating harmonies – definitely not the traditional version. She plays a chromatic game to enter the second A part. Interesting kicks for the band makes this an outstanding arrangement – fun to listen to. FOR ALL WE KNOW is a very sad song in my eyes and Soyoung interprets it in a very soft way, honest and humble – almost “naked” dedicated to the Jazz language. Her voice is clear and she shows good taste. Soyoungleaves the stage with the shyness of a girl from South Korea – what an interesting mixture!

7:00 Cristina Tanase

DON’T GO AROUND MUCH ANYMORE starts with a good powerful voice and a good feeling of powerful swing. That grabs the immediate attention of the audience. The musicians follow her drive and this song is alive! Her second song is taken from the Romanian tradition. The lyrics are written by Maria Tanase. Again we get the flavor of a totally different tradition of music mixed with Jazz. That’s what I really like about the European approach of young musicians. We mix our homeland tradition with the American Jazz culture and something new happens. Something much more connected to Europe than “just” singing The Great American Songbook and it looks like this is a success as well. Her interesting use of the voice with flips and quarter tones give a special taste to this song. The band supports with all the history of jazz. Go for it, Cristina! Big applause.

JURY DECISION: Angelique Kidjo

ALL OF THEM WERE REALLY GOOD!  only three can go to the finals and you give us a headache to choose – but these three are going to the Finals:

Fabio Giacalone, Arta Jekabsone and Erik Leuthäuser

And evrytime you gonna touch a song – make it yours!



Ready, steady, go!

20 min left, the musicians are prepared, singers warm up, the audience enters the room, running to get the best seats. Ready, steady……go!

Welcome to the Competition 2016


Schedule: Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2016

It’s only a few days until the 14th Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition starts.

Time to take a closer look at the schedule. Continue reading