Welcome to the Competition 2016

The Stage Is Set…

The Montreux Jazz Festival starts in less than one week. As it does each July since 50 years now, the festival is bringing together a highly eclectic mix of musical artists for two weeks on the tranquil shores of Lake Geneva. Where else over the course of a few days can you see Jean-Michel Jarre, Meshuggah, Herbie Hancock, Sigur Rós, PJ Harvey, Buddy Guy, DJ Shadow, Aurora and ZZ Top, all within a few hundred metres? The live experience at the Festival this year ranges from intimate acoustic performances by the finest jazz and world musicians, including Angélique Kidjo, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Manu Katché, to the stadium rock of British Grammy-winners Muse, loose hip-hop from Young Thug, the ‘post-rock’ of Mogwai and electronica from M83.

As befits Montreux’s half-centenary, the 2016 line-up features many artists whose previous Montreux performances have entered into legend, including jazz saxophonist and flautist Charles Lloyd — who played at the very first festival in 1967, and opens this year’s performances on the evening of June 30th — and Deep Purple (headliners on the festival’s final night this year, July 16th), who famously wrote ‘Smoke On The Water’ about the fire at a Frank Zappa concert that devastated the festival’s original venue, the Montreux Casino, in late 1971.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Shure is heavily involved behind the scenes at the festival each year, as Technical Partner for the Festival’s Microphone and Wireless systems and sponsor for the annual Shure Montreux Jazz Voice competition — and 2016 is no exception.
This year, we’re particularly pleased to see Alina Engibaryan, Russian winner of last year’s Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition, playing her own concert at the Festival on July 3rd. Three days later, Alina´s fellow finalists from the 2015 vocal competition, Vuyo Sotashe and Yumi Ito are appearing as part of the Montreux Jazz Academy Project’s concert on the 6th.

We’ll be bringing you more info and live reporting from Montreux here as the festival proceeds, so check back here for updates over the next couple of weeks!

Behind the Scenes: The 2016 Montreux Jazz Festival

Names can be deceptive. Yes, the Montreux Jazz Festival is… well, a music festival that takes place every year in Montreux, Switzerland, on the banks of Lake Geneva. Continue reading

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 (www.butterscotchmusic.com) 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 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.

Interviewing the band

Review Semi Final July 2nd

The Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2012

Shure Voice Competition 2010This year’s Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition will take place from July 2 – 4 at the Montreux Palace and we are very happy that none other than Mr. Quincy Jones will preside over the jury.

The competition which was initiated in 2003 by Shure and the Montreux Jazz Festival foundation supports young and upcoming jazz singers from all over the world.

In 2012 the Montreux Conservatory of Music received 69 applications from aspiring artists under 35 from 26 different countries from which 11 candidates have been selected to perform in Montreux.

Schedule:

Semi-final I: July 2, 17:00 – 18:30
Semi-final II: July 3, 17:00 – 18:30
Final: July 4, 17:00 – 19:00

Please stay tuned for some backstage information on the contestants as well as videos of the semi-finals.