And here they are: the performances of the 3 finalists 2017. Enjoy!

Listen to part of Alexander Lövmark’s winning performance at the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition.

Welcome to the Final of the 15th Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in 2017

with the fantastic singers Sara Decker, Alexander Lövmark and Talie Monin.

5.00 Here we are … sitting and waiting for the doors to close and the show to start. The three finalists look fabulous and have a chat backstage. Julien Coriatt (France) piano, Gabriel Midon (France) bass drummer Fred Bintner (Paris) rehearsed with them in the morning, warm up … everybody gets excited…

The jury will judge the candidates on these criteria: Vocal and musical quality, originality of the interpretation and personality, improvisation skill, interplay with the band and stage presence.

5:10 Sara Decker

AUTUMN NOCTURNE is one of Sara’s favorite Ballads. She sings it with only bass, deepening in the loneliness of the song and it’s giving us shivers. Her voice is going from velvet timbre to really soft. FASCINATING RHYTHM starts with a slowly but swinging intro and changes into a tricky arrangement with kicks and lot of drive. A little trumpet imitation interacting with Julien on piano goes over to a real vocal solo, which takes Sara from low to high. The final theme brings back the joy of the arranger. You see how Sara enjoys the band playing her well-prepared thoughts. IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND. Julien prepares the piano with some plastic card – John Cage style, some sounds like from a cymbal (Russian cymbalon) appear, Sara sings like heavenly sounds from the universe, clouds, wind. She whispers an 8th note figure to the drummer, he picks it up. A 2bar bass figure in 5 and 6/8th gives a drive behind her singing – so 11/8th – but it does not sound complicated. Now the changed time feel again to a very slow swing, beautiful comping from Julien Coriatt show his mastery at his instrument. So beautiful. Such a great support for a singer – the band is just fantastic. Key change. Nice and unexpected effect – together with this clear and very personal voice it all makes sense. After the last theme they go back to the driven bass figure and take sounds to improvise their way out of the song. It was a beautiful start of the evening with Sara’s special voice and sound with her timing and phrasing remembering of relaxed sweetness of Sheila Jordan or Betty Carter. But she is more modern. I got to know Sara 8 years ago when she took the entrance exam at the Conservatory Maastricht – I work as a vocal teacher there. So I coached her in the process of becoming a professional singer, later she went to NY to compete her studies and finished her Masters degree again with me. Great to see and hear her development – listening carefully, taking a lot in – but making it her own. I am so proud of Sara.

5:30 Alexander Löwmark

FASCINATING RHYTHM is Alexander’s first song. Funny – also in the Semifinal Sara and Alexander chose the same song. The band starts steaming, swinging like hell. It’s a pleasure – they get a whole chorus to warm the stage up. The Alex starts interpreting the song. He is backphrasing and uses popy embellishments and also a modern vibrato. So here we hear Jazz up to date. Good impro – a whole chorus, good energy behind, theme out with much more timing and clear jazz approach – still with his popy modern voice. Short ending – and it’s over. Big applause. PEAK is his own composition, he introduces it like this: “last year I was blessed with a son and now I think of him when I sing the song.” A grown up arrangement and a beautiful composition show us his musical world. Beautifully sang and felt – the band masters this piece. He moves to a spot in front of the drum to sing some background fills while the piano solos, taking over with some rhythmical fills. Beautiful theme out. “A song that’s very dear to me, most of us probably have had a hard time knowing where your heard is … the song is may be slightly naive but its a beautiful thing. Its named: SKYLARK.”  This beautiful jazz ballad just accompanied by piano – slightly reharmonized and with a very personal interpretation. Also a trumpet solo and a great old-fashioned trumpet sound coming out of his mouth, ending in a beautiful theme out.

5:50 Talie Monin

Horace Silver wrote a tune about Pannonica de Koenigswater Rothschild: NICAS DREAM. She starts in a 6/8 feel – singing and dancing along – making us feel at ease. There is a funny change in melody and unexpected chord… she is playing with the original, adding some modern thoughts in it. She has fun, is playing with the song. Yeah! AND IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HER BETTER – YOU HAD BETTER BEHAVE is a blues and she got the full attention of the audience following her story. Wow – this feeling leaves us breathless listening to all the beautiful sounds her voice. Again – before the song ends – people are screaming and applauding. She is an incredible artist – wow. A South African Song written for Miriam Makeba – GILO GILO – the bird song brings us to a samba feel. She fills the stage with her warm presence, feels the music, the musicians, looks beautiful, sounds fantastic and the audience is just thrilled. So many facets and such a sweet woman, a loving musician.

Now – the jury is going to find out about winners and 2nd and 3rd winners and I will go on stage to sing some songs in the break. …..30 min later …. now the jury is done, and the

AUDIENCE CHOICE goes to Talie Monin

3rd price goes to Talie Monin

2nd price goes to Sara Decker

1st price goes to Alexander Lövmark

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE THREE OF YOU. Incredible singers – also the 4 singers more we heard in the semi finals – you were fantastic – that’s why you were chosen to be in Montreux: Christian Conti, Laura Totenhagen, Miriam Ast and Helena Hulsman!








Here they are: the semi-final performances 2017

A recap of the semi-finals 2017

AND THE FINALISTS of the 15th Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in 2017 are: Alexander Lövmark, Talie Monin and Sara Decker!

Cécile McLorin Salvant enters the stage and talks about performing and losing vocal competitions – and not being chosen after sending in something.. So keep playing and singing, its fine!!!! So here we have the three finalists:

Alexander Lövmark … Talie Monin … Sara Decker


And tomorrow there will be again the three great musicans playing for them: Julien Coriatt (France) plays beautifully piano, Gabriel Midon (France) with fantastic sense of time on Bass and the fine tasteful drumming comes from Fred Bintner (Paris) living in Switzerland. See you all tomorrow!!!

Welcome to the Semi-final of the 15th Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in 2017

1:00 Rehearsal time. Montreux Palace – Petit Théâtre: The Band is there patiently practicing the arrangements with the incredible seven contestants. They started at 10 o’clock. Three fine musicians support the singers: Julien Coriatt (France) plays beautifully piano, Gabriel Midon (France) with fantastic sense of time on Bass and the fine tasteful drumming comes from Fred Bintner (Paris) living in Switzerland.

4:30 The audience arrives, people take seats in the front, the singers are prepared and soon the show will start. Seven candidates will perform in the next hours. The jury will take a decision about who will be the three finalists. I am excited. And I am not the only one…

5:00 Every seat is taken, we wait for the jury to arrive. Who is in the JURY?

This year, the jury will be presided by Cécile McLorin Salvant. The other Jury members are: Jérôme Berney (Composer), Laurence Desarzens (Director of the Music University Lausanne – Site Flon), Elina Duni (Singer, Composer), Stéphane Gobbo (Le Temps Swiss Newspaper, Head of Culture), Thierry Savary (Radio Fribourg, Director).


SEMI-FINAL at July 4th 2017, Petit Théâtre- Montreux Palace, Order of appearance: alphabetical order, Performance: 10 minutes maximum per candidates. 6 :20 – 7 :00       Jury’s deliberation and announcement of the finalists. The Montreux Jazz Artist Foundation has received 100 eligible applications from young singers under 35 from 40 different countries, from which 7 candidates have been selected by the Jazz and Contemporary Music School, EJMA in Lausanne and Cécil McLorin Salvant to play at the semi-finals in Montreux. And here we go…

5 :10 – 5 :20       Ast Miriam – Germany, 1989

The first song of this evening is FOUR by Miles Davis with lyrics by John Hendricks – put to the solo of Miles. She starts it out only with drums and a switch in the time feel of 4/4 switching to a 6/8 triplet feel – nice. The vocalized solo is performed only with bass – which breaks it down to the essence. Now she starts scat singing with a lot of fun and bebop-language, trading 4th with the drums. Fred Bintner on the drums is a great partner for the theme at the end. Nice arrangement, the audiance is clapping, screaming. DIVERGENCE is her second tune – an own composition. It is about the end of a relationship and the beginning of something new… Its a beautiful ballad – inspired by jazzharmony and popy sounds and pop chord progressions – all presented alongside the marvellous melody. She sings interesting embellishments in the theme, beautiful colors in Miriams voice unfold within the story she tells. A beautiful personal approach to music, a complex arrangement well performed by the band. Wow. Big applause guides Miriam to the door – WOW!


5 :20 – 5 :30       Conti Christian – USA, 1984

I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU is his start – making Jazz history alive. He sings the song with a full voice and entertainer qualities. Now his solo starts – and surprise: Chet Baker seems to be a big inspiration for him. That changes the mood immediatly. He surely did his homework and presents cromaticism, double time phrases, beautiful phrases – the band is steaming behind him. In the second chorus of his solo he goes to double time and starts interacting withJulien Coriatt at the piano. wohoooooo. From the B-part he takes it out to the last theme – flirting with the audiance. “This next song is a ballad. And I wrote it when I was sad… ” IF ONLY YOU is the title. He starts singing and within the first sentence he touches me, it’s not the entertainer anymore but an honest statement from a young man. He wears a suite and I imagine him singing the song in a jazz club – loving his life and the jazz tradition. YEAH.

5 :30 – 5 :40       Decker Sara – Germany, 1984

YOU’RE EV’RYTHING by Chick Corea is Saras first song. She introduces a loop as a vamp to start the song – making the bass to join her. Now drums come it – sound of percussive improv from her, lines together with the piano. Good start. Its a difficult composition especially for improvising. And thats what Sara does. Such an easy journey it sounds – but the specialist knows it isn’t an easy journey. She makes the audiance feel comfortable, enjoy the ride or flight of the birds… Nice impro to take the song out. Her second song is a standard. HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN starts with a vocalese getting us in the mood for the song, telling a story. Saras voice is warm and soft and tasts the sound of every word chaning the color with almost every word – so nice. No pressure on the voice. Now she makes the bass play along a written solo and they both dive into the world of Irving Berlin – composer of the song. Surprise: from Ballad to medium swing – now for the piano solo it goes to uptempo. And we hear the first time our fine piano player give more than background and fills. The last theme plays with the time changes again, bringing it back to medium time and finally a rubato out again with Gabriel Midon on bass. The audiance cant wait till the end and starts clapping. That was deep, honest and heart felt. Lovely!

5 :40 – 5 :50       Hulsman Helena – Netherlands, 1984

Working as a Marine Biologist Helena lives in Singapoor. She followed her love for jazz and singing just recently. And this sounds good – she is blessed with a real jazz voice, timbre from the “old days” – impressive: SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE. It all comes with ease – remarkable high notes and a contrasting intimate sound happen here – well she definitly has a big talent not just for Biology – but for Jazz as well. She ends SOFTLY from out the impro – no theme out but a powerful improvisation. Helena comments “this is life changing for me”. TICK TACK is her own composition about being 33 years old and waiting for the “Prince on the white horse”. This is a bluesy song, a little bit of Country and a spice of pop in it. Her twangy voice in this song fits in the UP TO DATE style of singing – Adele is a role model for this. She has hip flips in her voice, strength and super good intonation as well. So here waits a carreer, a journey, I life with something else than biology I would say. Very touching.

5 :50 – 6 :00       Lövmark Alexander – Sweden, 1985

WINTER AND FLOWERS written in 2011 – the first composition of this Sweedish Man. He has a shining voice, counts in, guides the band through the interesting and special arrangement with kicks behind him. In his impro he suddenly sounds a little bit like Kurt Elling but than takes highest notes in a pitch perfect falsetto voice. Thats playful and impressive at the same time. The band follows him on his journey – another great pianosolo by Julien Coriatt guides him back to his theme out. He smiles at the musicians. And another YOU’RE EV’RYTHING – he grew up with it – his parents had Chick Coreas record LIGHT AS A FEATHER. he starts improvising light as a bird, flighing it seems… having fun with the band.  The theme out has some variations. He feels very comfortable in this difficult high range for a Tenor, totally mastering it. oh my god – this will be so difficult for the jury… I must admit – I heard him taking much more risks in the rehearsals and I know his big potential. So another WOW from me…

6 :00 – 6 :10       Monin Talie – South Africa, 1988

Talie anounced her first song with a sympathic warm voice – I am already feeling good because of her nice presence. From 1957 and the album THE BIRTH OF THE COOL the song called BOPLICITY is performed by her in an interesting arrangement – adding some bars for scatting between the lyrical lines. Now her scat solo starts – behind kicks from the band. A beautiful voice unfolds, great sense for timing in the swing – her sweet fills and every well arranged – presented with a smile… yeah – as if it was invented that second. Her voice reminds me of Dee Dee Bridgewater somehow. LITTLE BIRD is her own song sang in French. The intro is sweet and soft. But now: she counts in a quick tempo and: sings a bebop tune. The band is steaming and so is she. Wow – own composed bebop tune in the tradition of Jazz but fresh and cute. Love it.

6 :10 – 6 :20       Totenhagen Laura – Germany, 1992

“The song talks about that special person in your life, that simply blows you away: I GOT A KICK OUT OF YOU”. The song comes along totally different then we heard it at the beginning of the evening. Laura makes an interesting und unexpected appearance: dressed in white and a little pale and somehow fragile – she starts singing with an open and warm low voice with a beautiful powerful timbre. This is an interesting contrast. Her arrangement of the song changes from harmonically intense to surpising uptempo and nice modern jazz harmony. She starts her solo and constantly builts it up from soft and low to high and higher and super high whistle register … still with incredible rhythmic approach… Her second song is a poem from Yehuda Amichai set to Music – about busy rushing times in your life. Here modern jazz with a free approach is presented, the song changes between groovy parts and somehow free influences all delivered with an attitude of freedom of choice and the history of for instance Jay Clayton… The band follows this journey and we hear something really unexpected and modern. The voice as somethow theatralic now. One more time the song and: Over. The band also is applauding now for Laura. wooooo.


7:10 Cécile McLorin Salvant enters the stage and talks about performing and losing vocal competitions – and not being chosen after sending in something.. So keep playing and singing, its fine!!!! So here we have the three finalists:

Alexander Lövmark … Talie Monin … Sara Decker