Every summer in Montreux, on the eastern shores of one of Switzerland’s most beautiful Alpine lakes, the world’s finest musicians gather for what has become one of the longest-running annual music festivals of all time. Originally founded by lifelong music lover, promoter and mean blues harmonica player Claude Nobs in 1967, the Montreux Jazz Festival has taken place every year since. A list of everyone that has played there could fill an entire book, but just a quick selection – Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, New Order, ZZ Top, Radiohead, Ritchie Hawtin, Sigur Rós, The Corrs Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Wu-Tang Clan – gives you an idea of the eclectic kind of place it can be.
As even this short list shows, in spite of its name, the festival has welcomed leading musicians of all musical styles, and not just jazz, since its very earliest years. Its founder once explained it like this: “If you come to Switzerland, you can buy a plastic watch, a wooden watch, a stone watch, a gold watch, a platinum watch. They are all called watches. And, for me, the festival is very much like this. We call it jazz to give it a quality name for music, and you have different styles of music: wooden music, steel music, platinum music. The heart of the watch is the movement, and it’s the same thing with music.” Claude Nobs died in 2013 following a skiing accident, but his vision lives on in the diverse array of artists featured at the Montreux Festival every year. Providing another great example, this years’ 50th anniversary line-up includes Air, DJ Shadow, Muse, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Mogwai, M83, Aurora, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Quincy Jones, Van Morrison, Jean-Michel Jarre, Bill Evans, Neil Young, Santana, Lana Del Rey, Four Tet and Deep Purple!
Since 1995, Shure has been the Festival’s Technical Partner for Microphones and Wireless systems, supplying wired and wireless systems for many of the artists who play at Montreux. Since 2003, Shure has also been the headline sponsor of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition, a contest held every year to promote up-and-coming jazz vocal talent from all over the world. As usual, we will be in Montreux this July, and will be reporting here over the coming weeks as preparations for the Festival reach their conclusion!