Big time name dropping #06 / Montreux
I love Montreux Jazz Festival. Switzerland summers can be rainy and in Montreux there is not a single patch of grass in sight, it is all nice carpeting, solid floors, hallways, wooden venues, streets and roofs, ROOFS. MJF is a lot of things, but what it definitely is not is an open air festival. This is fuckin great. For the public and the team first, if only because the air conditioning and the solid walls and all the conveniences a modern building has to offer, but for the equipment too. After weeks of daily operations in Montreux all the nice expensive shiny brand new just out of the box sound stuff comes out of the place pristine and clean and ready to face the rigours of a European festival summer, with all the mud and the dust and the dirt to come.
But wait, I was wrong about the grass bit. There is one. Across the main street from the Montreux Palace, between the road and the sundeck and the pool there’s a tiny patch of garden now populated with brass sculptures. Still, nothing to worry about mud though because during festival time, the event extends so much around the main buildings that the entire area is covered with VIP tents, carpeted floors and restaurants. But should you come back off season you would get to meet with the ghosts of what once was and statues of jazz legends. From BB King to Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles or Claude Nobs… Funny thing almost all these sculptures have been installed in the presence of the original model with a glass of local white wine in the hand, all smiling and honoured and proud. As if being the only one not guessing what was to come… Claude got his, but Johnny hasn’t as far as I know, perhaps because he did not tick all the right boxes, being legendary is not enough, you have to show some sort of jazz inclination for wrong notes and never ending solos to be honoured by the presence of a 3D brass rendering of yourself in the Montreux Palace Garden during the year, and ironically squeezed between a fridge and vip counter during the Jazz Festival… Now, if you want to save a bit of land for VIP tents and lake view there are some physical limits to the number of statues of jazz legends that can be crammed in this tiny patch of land, just as luckily, there are limits to jazz legends availability too…
Then, on a bit of an unrelated note I was wrong again, one dude made it to the statue status in Montreux,
without too much jazz at all in his entire career and music. If you walk east about 1km Freddie Mercury will be there, all great looking and brassy and contemplating the horizon over the lake forever. But Queen did have an album named Jazz though… go figure.
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