The Montreux Jazz Festival gets back into swing

Published on: Amended:

Geneva (AFP) – The Montreux Jazz Festival returns this summer promising a “stunning panorama of sound” after two years muted by the pandemic, with Diana Ross, Bjork, Stormzy and Herbie Hancock in the line-up unveiled on Wednesday.

The 56th festival, from July 1-16 in the idyllic Lake Geneva town, is turning to old friends and a few new faces from the worlds of pop, rap, jazz and rock to kickstart the show.

“After two editions of forced silence, the two emblematic rooms of the festival will finally be able to give back to the public and to the artists the thrill of the live performance”, indicated the organizers.

For more than half a century, Montreux has been a magnet for big names in the music industry, as well as for rising stars. It has retained its jazz label despite the spectacular expansion of its repertoire since the first edition in 1967.

The 2020 festival has been canceled outright due to Covid-19, while the 2021 event has been scaled down significantly, with a small 25m (80ft) stage on the lake, opposite a grandstand that can seat 500 spectators.

The 2022 program, “dense and colorful, once again combines the timeless with the spirit of the times”, specified the organizers.

Legend in the line-up

Norwegian synth-pop trio a-ha open for the 4,000-seat Auditorium Stravinski, with the first weekend also featuring Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds followed by Icelandic singer Bjork with the Sinfonietta de Lausanne .

The 2021 event has been scaled down significantly, with a small 25-meter (80-foot) stage on the lake, in front of a grandstand that can accommodate 500 spectators. Fabrice COFFRINI AFP/File

John Legend, Paolo Nutini, Rodrigo and Gabriela, Diana Ross, the Alan Parsons Live Project, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Van Morrison Jeff Beck and Eurovision-winning Italian rockers Maneskin are also set to perform on the main stage.

Meanwhile, the 2,000-capacity Montreux Jazz Lab will feature The Smile – a new project from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood – and British rapper Stormzy.

The festival will be closed by the great jazz pianist Hancock, 82, and Jamie Cullum.

The Motown Ross idol makes her Montreux debut aged 78, while Bjork returns for the first time in 24 years as she releases her 10th album.

“This 2022 edition has a special flavor. Firstly because, like the world of culture in general, it is a sign that life is getting back to normal,” said festival general manager Mathieu Jaton.

“We are all coming out of this crisis in different ways; some bruised, some stronger, some weakened, some hardened. But let’s not forget that a festival is above all a moment of sharing and celebration.

Willie J. Johnson