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!








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




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!!!

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 Final of the 13th SHURE Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2015!

4:30 The room is already almost full – wow!!! I am locking forward to a great concert – of three great singers: Alina Engibaryan from Russia living in the Netherlands, Yumi Ito Japan/Poland born in Switzerland and Vuyo Sotashe South Africa currently living in NYC. I think we will have a lot of fun and deep moments! ENJOY!

5:00 The jury including Al Jarreau enters the room, everybody is excited. The “Petit Theatre” is packed, every seat is taken, people stand in every little corner to be able to listen to these fantastic musicians.

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Welcome to the Semi-final of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2015

3:30 The audience arrives, people take seats in the front, the singers are prepared and soon the show will start. Ten 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…

4:00 Almost every seat is taken, we wait for the jury to arrive. Who is the JURY?

Al Jarreau is this years head of the Jury, Carine Zuber (Artistic Director of The Mood’s), Joe A. Turano (Musical Director, Al Jarreau, Club 16.7), Joe Farmer (Journalist RF!), Wendy Oxenhorn (President of the Jazz Foundation of America)

How to judge this? … Interpretation, Personality, Improvisation, Interplay, …

July 15th 2015- Petit Théâtre- Montreux Palace

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.

  • 4 :10 – 4 :20 Alyssa Allgood

Alyssa enters the room, greets the audience in French and starts with FOUR written by Miles Davis. After the theme she is scatting with good build up and finishes with the theme.Tedd Damerons song: LADY BIRD is her 2nd song, her own choice. She has a beautiful timbre, nice round head voice, good impro skills. The arrangement is nice, the band plays it beau Al Jarreau asks: Where these your lyrics to FOUR? No, Alyssa replies: Anita O’day sang these lyrics to FOUR. A nice Jazz performance: good luck, Alyssa!

  • 4 :20 – 4 :30  Sabrina Cheref (aka Sans Elle)

Sabrina Cheref starts out with Jimmy van Heusens POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS. She loves the song, you can clearly see and hear this. She brings some popy embellishments to the song, her vibrato and style fo singing is modern – the band is comping very sophisticated. Her choice from the list is Boplicity written by Miles Davis. She takes a chorus for a scat, interesting notes, big range, followed by a beautiful piano solo. She takes the song out, says goodbye. All the best to you, Sabrina!

  • 4 :30 – 4 :40 Laura David

Laura Dausse starts with INVITATION composed by Bronislau Kaper switching from Latin in the A-part to swing in the B-part of the song. She is living the song on stage. Her voice brings some souly colours, but her phrasing is coming from the jazz world. Her 2nd song is the choice from the List: Cole Porters I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU. She swings nice and easy, the arrangement is interesting and gives some unexpected kicks. Her scat goes into an interaction 4 bars each with the terrific piano player Jerry Léonide. Starting with the B-part and swinging it to a surprising, very good and effective ending. Take your applause Laura!

  • 4 :40 – 4 :50 Alina Engibaryan

Alina starts with BEBOP LIVES in a great arrangement suggesting 3 against 4. Her scat is sophisticated, nice back phrasing, yeah, tension notes, the first time I hear an altered altered scale from the singers tonight – I hear real jazz and yes, I get goosebumps. FOR ALL WE KNOW: Her voice is touching, there is something unpretentious but honest and real. She takes the ballad, opens her scat with a nice phrase in double time feel, lets it rest and sink in, takes on. Interesting to listen to her, beautiful… The 2nd A-part goes to Jerry on the piano for soloing. And by now everybody forgot the we are in a competition. It’s just fantastic music played by four great musicians. She takes the song out with some variations in the melody – all very tasteful and the audience is cheering up for her. Go, Alina go!!!

  • 4 :50 – 5 :00 Yumi Ito

Yumi opens up with freely going into a unison line together with the bass in a Samba feel. This vamp leads into SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE. This song is a good old American Songbook Standard, written by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1928 for an operetta. All is very joyful, lively, the band is smiling. There is interplay, everybody opens up the ears to catch everything that happens. That’s Jazz! She starts the song with a free intro, cueing the band into a nice arrangement of THE NEARNESS OF YOU. Yumi is totally into the music, starts now to scat sing and her sound becomes more a trumpet than a scat. Nice, interesting guidelines for instance using #11 upwards, jazzy lines, some unexpected chords in her beautiful arrangement of the song. And everything sounds as if it was „so“ easy. Ending with an nice free phrase – high and low, very good in tune on the major7. Congratulations, Yumi!

5 :00 – 5 :30 Break

  • 5 :30 – 5 :40 Vebjørn Mamen

Vebjørns “Bonjour” introduces his first song entitled FOUR or QUATRE like he says… In the first bars we can see that he is nervous. But already in bar 5 his beautiful sound and nice jazz phrasing takes over and leads us to the world of Jazz clubs, the young Marc Murphy, James Moody and John Hendricks. YOU’VE CHANGED. He loves Jazz, he loves singing. He plays with a lot of contrasts, a lot of colours in his voice. It’s all somehow „young“, also the shyness of Chet Baker is in his voice and behavior, his Microphone Technique needs an upgrade… but all is very promising, I like what he is doing. Go for it, Vebjørn!

  • 5 :40 – 5 :50 Rebecca Mason

Rebecca starts out with SOFTLY AS IN A MORNING SUNRISE. A ends with the interlude of A night in Tunesia thats citing some jazz history and use it in a very effective and cute way. She comes from New Zealand – wow that’s a long long way. LUSH LIFE – may be “the” jazz ballad written by the 18 year old Billy Strayhorn as application for the job as a writer for the Ellington Orchestra. By the way: I love the sound of the bassist, what a sensitive and reliable Zacharie Abraham from Paris. Some sound from the 50ies are in Rebeccas voice, the way she treats the vibrato. The audience is heavily applauding for Rebecca, nice!

  • 5 :50 – 6 :00 Cinnamon Denise Murray

Cinnemon gives a nice speech at the beginning, she also looks very hip. SO WHAT! Miles Davis’ Song lets her take over the whole stage, moving from one side to the other in a very organic way. She sings the famous Miles Davis Solos with John Hendrix Lyrics, does some scat singing, leads the band from soft to loud. There is something really appealing about her. She also lets us see the change to the next “mode” in the modal song. Good. I WANT YOU from Erykah Badu lets us hear her performing strengths. Her voice and range is impressive, yes, with some short movements she gets the audience to clap for her. Playing with groove and softness – she is a musical talent, a performing talent, more she is a performer! She is a singer guiding the band, also leading us into an atmosphere of ease. You gave something special to us, thank you, Cinnemon!

  • 6 :00 – 6 :10 Chiara Pancaldi

Chiara starts with YOU’RE EV’RYTHING from Chick Coreas Album with Flora Purim “Light as a feather”. She sings a special – a written Solo and brings a scat to this complicated but beautiful song. She incorporated also a little bit of the original vamp from Chick Corea. Hoagy Carmichaels SKYLARK from 1941 is her second song. She wears a very classy dress, absolutely fitting into this Petit Theatre here in the Montreux Palace. She gives a nice interpretation of this song, hands over to Jerry Léonide on Piano he plays a short deep solo. The band is supporting the singers in a fantastic way. Well done, Chiara!

  • 6 :10 – 6 :20 Vuyo Sotashe

Vuyo comes in, the audience already greets him. Her starts singing, some notes and it’s MAGIC. Beautiful voice, big smile, great timing. Oh my god I get so emotional when I listen to good music, so my tears start falling down… A little bit of Nat King Cole is in his voice – but also I see the young Al Jarreau in him. He is dancing on stage, enjoying the music, leading the band just naturally. He starts is second song with sounds and lines generated in South Africa – bringing an original atmosphere to us. Lionel Louekes arrangement of Skylark sounding so easy and groovy – but it is in 7. He takes the improvisation so nice and easy. He makes us feel good. So much into the Jazz music, and just so that I wish he would go on for another 2 hours just singing his heart out. Hope to see and hear you a thousand more times, Vuyo!

6 :20 – 6 :50 Jury’s deliberation and announce of the finalists

Welcome back, passed the Mic to Al Jarreau. Just a few comments: “We were listening to Winners. All Winners. We have coming to this thing of competition … who is the strongest… no, if you are involved in the world and you are doing it, you are the winner … the heart and the curage it what it takes. If you wanna do it for free – then welcome on board! Music has been the spoiled child. Poets, Sculptures, Writers … they don’t get that – but doing music makes people smile, its happiness, that healing, thats good work and w are doing it. i am inspired by what I hear, I wanna go sing now… wonderful singing…

I am going to announce the finalists now in no particular order: Yumi Ito, Vuyo Satashe, Alina Engibaryan! 

CONGRATULATIONS! See you tomorrow at 5 o’clock in the FINALs!

Live-Blog FINAL: 12th SHURE Montreux Jazz Voice Competition

It’s 4 o’clock, the jury comes in, all seats are taken and so we can start.

Myriam Bouk Moun will be the first lady to sing a song. She starts with GROOVIN’ HIGH – with new lyrics written by herself. A joyful almost childish intro guides us into the song. She swings it in a light, elegant way. Her scat follows the changes, interesting, very musical. Now an OWN COMPOSITION, she gives us the message about love and we believe her singing: „I could fly, life was filled with joy, I felt save, but…“. The band bringst he meaning into music – this is not a competition anymore, this is a faboulus concert! “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS” in an explosive interpretation – influenced by pop, soul, world music but most of all – full of Myriams emotions. Her scat also is full of emotions paired with jazz phrasing, interesting harmonic choices, again some popy embellishments. And everything sang in full range between loud and soft, high and low, soul and jazz, even classical timbre, some belting, some breathy notes, some screaming … tasteful … wow: here is an artist on stage – and again: that’s not a competition, it’s a concert!

Alita Moses starts with some words in French to the audience. FOUR is her first song. Her pleasant voice, good timing, easy phrasing and her smile make it a joy to look at and listen to her. The ballad – one of her favourite songs sang by Alita makes us totally understand her wish: “oh how I need SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME”. The longing is in her face while she sings – following mostly the original melody with some modern embellishments, perfect intonation, good sound, very personal touch. A French tune – a song by “Magda Giannikou: AMOUR T’ES LÁ? Just lately recorded with Snarky Puppy so clap your hands”. The band puts us into Latin atmosphere – the audience is enthusiastic about the lively performance. Again: WOW!

Laura Perrudin starts out with the Verse from I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU. And here we get the kick of authentic, classical Club Jazz. Though there is a special sadness or blue innocence about Laura. And her next song from Mel Thorme is somehow illustrating what I just thought: BORN TO BE BLUE. With a fine scat, again very good intonation, makes us dream and look at this girl singing with her eyes closed.

Wayne Shorter – probably the most important composer in my life – with words by Gretchen Parlato JUJU. A long intro with elements of world music, melodically interesting, soundwise interesting, good built up following th original chord structure of the song guides us into the lyrics. WHAT A JOURNEY!!!


We just had a little intermission – I sang two songs of mine: DELICIOUS AND LOVELY and FUKUMATSU – plus a CIRCLE SONG with all the FINALISTs together plus Liselotte Ostblom  … just improvised together.


All three finalists get 2000 Euro worth SHURE products free to choose. Miss Sweet Georgia Brown wants to say some words: “what a honor and pleasure to be here. And to the ladies: there are no loosers, you are all winners. Love what you do and do what you love!”





This was again a wonderful experience, all the best to you nine girls singing here! Loads of love from Sabine Kuehlich

more info and contact: http://www.sabinekuehlich.com 🙂