Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 – Diary (Part IV)

Hello again! Although the festival is now officially over I’d like to share some of my experiences of the last few days with you…

Monday, 07/09: Labrinth and Pitbull at Stravinski. During the soundcheck I did a backstage tour with some guests (dealers, PA rentals) from Germany and we could catch a glimpse of the band doing the soundcheck. Only for a few minutes, but better than nothing. And although Hip Hop is normally not my kind of music it became quite an entertaining evening. Pitbull showed up with a whole bunch of instruments – drums, percussions, bass, keyboards, sax… Plus a DJ, of course 🙂 I spent some time at the FOH place watching our PSM 1000 systems. As before during the soundcheck, all transmitters were close to the clipping – Pitbull prefers to perform a little bit louder.

When Pitbull was over, I went to the Miles Davis Hall. After “Dr. House” Hugh Laurie and Dr. John, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue entered the stage. Amazing performance. For the first concerts the hall was furnished with chairs but when Trombone Shorty started no one was sitting anymore. It seemed as if Trombone Shorty didn’t want to finish, he and his musicians played and played and even changed their instruments among each other. This was definitely one of the highlights!

Tuesday, 07/10: Today: Nick Waterhouse and Anastacia at Stravinski, Gilberto Gil’s Viramundo and Melody Gardot at Miles. During the souncheck, the crew of Anastacia as well as the monitor engineer seemed to be very nervous. Anastacia brought only parts of their backline, including wireless mics and 3-4 in-ear channels of another well-known manufacturer. Futhermore the band management requested another 14 in-ear channels of this manufacturer. Because of these additional channels I’ve had a chat with the responsible sound coordinator as he’s in charge to tell the band management, that we do have 14 more channels – but from Shure. Wasn’t a problem at all and they “only” needed 8 channels in the end. The concert of Anastacia was scheduled to begin at 21:30 but then Butterscotch ( made it to the lineup on a very short notice. She played about half an hour but obviously Anastacia’s management wasn’t involved in that and was not very happy about this. So, how do I describe the show? First the positive: Her voice was very impressive and transparent as we all now it from her recordings. She played the songs everyone knows. Other than that there were some glitches – the band didn’t really look as if they had fun playing plus they had some issues with the timing, Anastacia missed the start of one song and told the band to start with the chorus. Maybe she had just a bad day.

After Anastacia I went down to see Melody Gardot at Miles Davis. When I ran into the hall I had the feeling of having a sauna as the singer wished that the air condition was switched off. It was barely to stand.

Wednesday, 07/11: Fourplay (Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Chuck Loeb), Herbie Hancock (for the 28th time at Montreux!), and Sergio Mendes at Stravinski. The soundcheck was very relaxed. No comparison to the day before. Fourplay and Herbie Hancock brought parts of the backline plus some wireless and IEM systems. I already knew the tour and production manager of Fourplay and it was cool to meet them again. I watched both concerts at the FOH place. Great musicians, great sound. After the concert I joined the soundcrew of Herbie Hancock for a few drinks 🙂

Thursday, 07/12: Two soundchecks in parallel. Jessie J at Miles Davis and Nightwish at Stravinski. Pop at Miles, Symphonic Metal at Stravinksi. Both bands arrvied with their own backline and lots of wireless, of course… I was in touch with the bands’ monitor guys to coordinate the frequencies. As expected the Wireless Workbench Software shows some interference alerts from Stravinski. Ok, apparently Nightwish has powered their wireless systems on. When I came to the monitor place about the half of the 16 Axient channels blinked red due to the interferences. These could be solved with the Spectrum Manager’s back-up frequencies.

Axient Interference Alert @ Nighwish soundcheck

Afterwards Jessie J soundcheck at Miles. Just wanted to see if there are also any interferences around when the production manager asked all technicians who do not belong to the Jessie J crew to leave the stage. Just watched our receivers on stage, were looking fine. Then the Miles Davis stage crew and I left the hall. Around 18:00 I went to the Fourplay workshop at the Montreux Palace where I met Nathan East. After the workshop I enjoyed a few beers with the Fourplay sound and production crew at the Palace. Cool 🙂

Nathan East and I

Friday, 07/13: The Nightwish performance yesterday was simply incredible. I’ve never seen them live before and was blown away. This concert could have lasted longer, 90 minutes were much too short.

Today Freak Out! party at Stravinski. All 16 channels Axient and 14 channels PSM 1000 in action. The concert was planned to last from 20:00 until 04:00 in the morning! Or longer!

Whatever. Something that is certain is that Saturday is the last day and the soundcheck of Herbert Grönemeyer is scheduled for 11:00.

Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 – Diary (Part III)

Time goes by that fast – it’s time to look back at the weekend.

Friday, 07/06: The weather is still quite unpredictable, muggy during the day, windy and rainy at night. Today it’s time for the Brasilian night at Stravinski. Three bands (Luiz Melodia, Adriana Calcanhotto, Cidade Negra) were about to arrange for the respective mood – didn’t work out too well. In the past I experienced lots of wild parties during these Brasilian nights but this one night was far apart from those.

Garland Jeffreys, Rodrigo Y Gabriela (and C.U.B.A.) and Bebe Winans performed at Miles Davis. I had to change the entire frequency setup at Miles as one of the bands used an own wireless system which ran in the same band as our systems. Also the monitor guy was uncertain if he should stick to the frequencies or change them once again prior to the peformance. After a short chat with the responsible stage manager it was clear that this was not an option as the frequency setup finalised during the soundcheck must be maintained.

All frequency calculations are coordinated in the afternoon and normally there is absolutely no reason to change anything in the evening. When the monitor engineer had finally decided on a setup I integrated our frequencies accordingly. During the performances, everything worked out smoothly and without any issues. After the show I visisted the Funky Claude Jam stage in the foyer of the Miles Davis Hall, as usual 🙂

Van Morrison’s golden UR2 handheld

Saturday, 07/07: What a day! Great weather and the most crowded day so far. Lots of people alongside the boardwalk and in front of the various stands. Also the park around the open air stage was very crowded. At Stravinski we had Van Morrison and Buddy Guy performing. At Miles the James Carter Organ Trio, Spectrum Road and Neneh Cherry & The Thing.

Spectrum Road is a band project with Jack Bruce from Cream (bass), Vernon Reed from Living Color (guitar), Cindy Blackman-Santana from Lenny Kravitz (drums) and John Medeski (keyboard, respectively Hammond organ). Plus guitar player John McLaughlin as special guest. Unfortunately the sound wasn’t very good and in terms of music the one hour lasting concert was limited to the soli of the various artists. Certainly nothing for the masses. To that effect the hall was also not very highly frequented.

Neneh Cherry who performed as last artist was the weakest act (at least of those who I saw during the last days). She virtually cleared the hall.

Sunday, 07/08: Bob Dylan at the Auditorium Stravinski – own production and crew. The entire afternoon was planned for the setup and soundcheck. The band playing after Bob Dylan had to start without any soundcheck directly at 22:00. Therefore the reconstruction took quite long. I think it was around 23:00 when Chicago Blues: A Living History finally began.

At Miles it was quiet and peaceful – French chanson with Juliette Gréco and Axelle Red, replacing Jane Birkin. Yawn 😉

Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 – Diary (Part II)

The first festival week is already over. Time to look back 🙂

This year the weather here in Montreux is quite unsettled, a mix of sun and rain.

Monday (07/02):  Alabama Shakes and Alanis Morissette performed at Stravinski. I spent the afternoon walking around the festival and watching a few soundchecks. As usual I loaned some additional mics plus some IEM Systems but also had the chance to place some VP89 shotgun mics at the Stravinski stage for some atmo recordings. We also welcomed a very regular guest of the festival, Pat Metheny, who played at Miles Davis. Very nice guy.

Pat Metheny, me, Claude Nobs

Tuesday (07/03): Jamie N. Commons and Katie Melua at Stravinski, Paco De Lucia at Miles Davis. But first of all the winners of last year’s Shure Jazz Voice Competition had the opportunity to show their skills. This is something very cool – all Voice Competition winners get the chance to perform at the following festival.

Something I like very much in general is the volume level in Switzerland, the sound level mustn’t exceed 100 dB(A). Nevertheless the concerts never appear to be too quiet. Especially at Stravinski, the sound is really good.

Wednesday (07/04): Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Bombay Bicycle Club at Stravinski. Was too monotonous (at least for me), apart from some Oasis classics. In Miles Davis we had Woodkid and Lana Del Rey. The hall was fully packed and the air was extremely warm and muggy. On Wednesday we had also some guests around at Montreux (customers, dealers, consultants, integrators). One important part of their visit is an exclusive backstage tour, of course! So I show the guests the festival ground and sometimes we even have the chance to see some soundchecks.

Wednesday was the most hectic day so far. All bands performing at Stravinski and Miles Davis came with their own backlines and wireless systems. And they worked in the same band as our systems on the stages. So I had to adjust a majority of our frequencies. With our Shure Axient Wireless System being used at Stravinski – no big deal 🙂 At Miles Davis we use UHF-R, there it took me a little bit longer as you have to sync the transmitters manually with the receivers. However it was done relatively quick and all systems ran dependably. Round midnight I joined some Shure colleagues to watch a jam session taking place at the foyer of the Miles Davis Hall and to have a few drinks.

Axient and PSM 1000 racks @ Stravinski

Thursday (07/05): Erykah Badu on stage at the Auditorium Stravinski. Very cool. I even installed a receiver plus a little active speaker in my office to listen to the audio signals.

Interview with Quincy Jones

Sabine Kühlich talks to Quincy Jones, head of the jury, about the competion.

July 4th 2012 – Finals SHURE Montreux Jazz Voice Competition

The room is packed. Press is there, waiting for the competition to start. Our live-stream is already online. And: I was just asked to fill the space while the jury deliberates and play some tunes with this nice band. YES! This will be very spontaneous – no charts, no prepared arrangements, no high heels 🙂 … but certainly: JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ SWING JAZZ LATIN JAZZ BLUES JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ …

5:17 We are already waiting … the live-stream is on … it was a beautiful day today outside, very very hot … inside the temperature is just a little lower – it is hot in here … and on stage there are brasilian temperatures the Singers told me … now we hope the jury will arrive soon and the finals start … so: stay tuned!

5:20 It starts! …for you just to remember: application from 27 countries were received – 11 candidates were selected, in the semifinals 2 times 5 Singers performed, yesterday the jury selected 3 out of these… Each finalist will present one own song, and 2 free choices. They will play in alphabetic order.

5:27 Sarah Lancman starts with Horace Silvers tune: “NICA’S DREAM” – a song with a latin groove. Actually the song is about a Baroness who loved Jazz and stayed in close contact to the Jazzmusicians starting in the raise of Bebop in the 40ies: Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarte. She was a big “sponsor” and “host” for the musicians – so Jazz is an art, and art needs sponsors, competitions and poeple who love it, put themselves in an organising position – so thanks to all of you: SHURE, MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL, all you people helping us musicians to develop our art and artistry, MUSICLOVERS… Sarah sings it just beautifully- it is intense and without anything that doesn’t belong to the music. For her second song “THE BOY NEXT DOOR” she sits behind the piano and comps herself together with the two members of the band. She scats – and plays along at the piano. With such a nice phrasing, relaxed, some great back-phrasing, to the point, gentle – WOW! Oh my good – this is beautiful! and such an unexpected chord to end the song… it was her own composition. THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC is an old swing – and Sarah can swing. She swings in a very nice, subtle way, changes the original rhyhthm … the drummer is constantly smiling – that tells it all. People in the room are clapping hard and cheering.

5:40 Marie Martin tells us: “DON’T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE” in a groovy Latin style and takes this song out of the Swing-Big Band-era into a more modern interpretation. She adds pop-phrasing, modern belt-sounds and crazy triplets against the straight 16nth notes played by the band. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS” just started by Marie and Sebastian at the bass. She showes a very personal style of variations and embellishments, melismatic changes of the melody notes. She definitly tells the story, it sounds like she knows what she is singing about. Connecting to her spanish roots – she sings “SPAIN” by Chick Corea (1972) – inspired by the famous “Concierto de Aranjuez” composed by Joaquin Rodrigo in 1939 in Paris. Marie scat-sings and it totally back in this Latin-style – no pop-phrasing anymore, just accurate 16th notes in unison with the band – and thats really difficult, believe me. A dag in the audience helped her finishing the song 🙂 …she goes back to her personal style of embellishments to finish the song. The audience is enthusiastic.

5:59 Elena Mindru wants to tell a story to us: “old but still true” she says: “NATURE BOY”. Her scat-solo starts with sounds like coming from a trumpet playing in another room. The song is played in a funky way. Her natural way of being is also convincing. Horace Silver is her favourite Jazz-composer and we again listen to NICA’S DREAM. Elenas version starts with sounds made by consonants: ts t k ttt k ts sssss … in a rhythimcal way. Her impro goes to notes with pitch, nice choices, some glottal sounds that might be inspired by the music of her origin: Romania – very original, very personal, convincing. Now she sings her own song and the singing style changes more towards soul. Another way of improvising comes up – groovy and interesting. It’s a good interesting song… I didn’t get the title – I will ask her later. Also big applause for Elena from the audience.

Again: good luck to the jury, all three candidates are original, personal, have their own sweet way, a highly developed artistry – if I just may say my opinion, a total different approach toward Jazz-music, brilliant vocal technique, good harmonic knowledge for scat-singing, are good performers, interesting timing, they interact with the band – it’s fun to listen to all of them. Wow – I am not in the jury – I am writing the blog and enjoying the performance. And I’ll be on stage soon – and that’s the best. For you three girls: Sarah, Marie and Elena: you are WINNERS!

6:48 I am just back from the stage to my seat in the first row. Two songs: Stormy Monday – a blues and YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM with a Sunny Rollins Solo put into words . And now I am curious. The jury comes in…

6:51 Introduction by the jury: “All of the candidates were just wonderful. And: the level is really improving – it gets better and better – so real congratulations to the singers.” I totally agree … Quincy says: “All these girls are a party, it’s about living and lerning – especially in Jazz. the last 65 years I worked in that field … and each one has a totally different situation: Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and all of them… – so I am just proud to be here, you can be proud to be here.”

Public Price: goes to ELENA MINDRU!

3rd price: MARIE MARTIN

2nd price: ELENA MINDRU

1st price: SARAH LANCMAN


Well, Sarah stands there, packed witha head phone, vouchers of 2000 Euro product from SHURE, 5000 Euro and the chance of recording one week in the great BALIC studio in Switzerland. I did that and that’s just a fantastic thing. CONGRATULATIONS!



Live Video Stream Final JULY 4th

Video Live Stream

Shure at Montreux Live Stream

Final JULY 4th Final 5 :00pm – 7 :00pm (CET)
Order of appearance : alphabetical order 
Performance : 15min maximum

  • 5 :00 – 5 :15 LANCMAN Sarah
  • 5 :20 – 5 :35 MARTIN Marie
  • 5 :40 – 5 :55 MINDRU Elena
  • 5 :55 – 6 :15 Jury’s final deliberation Counting of the public vote
  • 6 :15 – 7 :00 Awards ceremony

This event will appear on our live video stream starting 5:00pm CET.

The Finalists

And here they are, the three finalists chosen by the jury, chaired by Quincy Jones: Elena Mindru, Marie Martin and Sarah Lancman.

Again: Congratulations!

Make sure to watch the final tomorrow July 4 at 17:00 – 19:00.

Semi Finals: The jury is now deliberating on the finalists

While the jury is deliberating on the finalists our stream will stay online. Stay tuned to find out about their decision.

Criteria: vocal and musical quality, originality of interpretation and personality, improvisation skills, interplay and stage presence. With these criteria they choose:


Sarah Lancman, Elena Mindru and Marie Martin


Live Video Stream Semi Final JULY 3rd

Semi final JULY 3rd 5 :00pm – 6 :30pm (CET)

Order of appearance : alphabetical order
Performance : 10min maximum

  • 5 :00 – 5 :10 Presentation
  • 5 :10 – 5 :20 MARTIN Marie, (France) (Birth date : 1979)
  • 5 :20 – 5 :30 MINDRU Elena, (Romania) (Birth date : 1988)
  • 5 :30 – 5 :40 PILATOVIC Viktorija, (Lithuania) (Birth date : 1989)
  • 5 :40 – 5 :50 REGIDOR Luis, (Spain) (Birth date : 1985)
  • 5 :50 – 6 :00 SCANDALIOS Jenna, (USA) (Birth date : 1995)
  • 6 :00 – 6 :30 End first day Announce of the finalists End of the Semifinals

This event will appear on our live video stream starting 5:00pm CET.

Semi Finals 2nd day: July 3rd Montreux Petit Theatre 5pm: Welcome to the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition!

5:13 Marie Martin sings “NICA’S DREAM”, does her second chorus scat-singing, after a piano-Solo an interactive Solo with the drummer features her percussive sounds, she ends the song with “special” – comped by the Band. MOODY’S MOOD FOR LOVE is her second song. James Moody played the song “In the mood for Love” and his solo became a vocalese with lyrics by Singer Eddy Jefferson. A lot of sophisitcated singers recorded the song – James Moody did a version too – check this out: Yes Marie – this was Jazz-history and you brought it to us, very sophisticated and in your own style…

5:25 Elena Mindru is on stage and the bass just give us the constant sounds of a heart beating. Elena starts singing: MY FUNNY VALENTINE and it’s real. “FASCINATING RHYTHM” a very good arrangement, and the band is happening too, switching rhythms, intensity, groove, playing the song in a way I never heard it. Tricky, intelligent, grooving, Elena is an appearance on stage, it looks like the is totally comfortable up there, interacting with the musicians. She guides the band back to a sweet start of rhythmical talk. Very original!


5:41 Viktorija Pilatovic opens with an energetic arrangement of the song “MIDNIGHT SUN”. And she likes to play with the music: “I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU” sung in a kicking way. She really has a jazz-voice nad appears very natural on stage – congratulations, Victorija!

5:52 Luis Regidor just says: “For Miles Davis” and starts a vocalese version of FOUR … very energetic, quick, tight, very good phrasing – yes he really lives all the rhythmical kicks of the band. And: he is a god performer. “The next song I want to dedicate to all the people I love – they are currently watching the live-stream: SEPTEMBER SONG.” He starts singing and he is all music and it’s all true. Tears come into my eyes – he caught me, I believe him. Yep – some “tenor-vibrato”, some Elvis-Mic-Mooves and I am back in the reality. Luis – you are a great talent! Last year second price … this year??? We’ll see…

6:01 Jenna Scandalios sings SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE, just the theme, piano solo, theme. LULLABYE OF BIRDLAND – after singing the song she opens with a famous citation taken from Ella Fitzgeraald – thats a good start. Sarah Vaughan sang a fantastic scat-solo too – hey Jenna – take adventage of this and sing that too! No, she didn’t. Jenna – good start in Jazz, go on developing your talent! 🙂

In around 20min the jury will anounce the three finalists – stay with the live-stream – we will be back!