Montreux festival boss promises strong line up

Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:28pm EDT
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By Jason Rhodes

CAUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - The Montreux Jazz Festival has sewn up appearances by all the major jazz attractions in Europe this summer along with a host of pop and rock stars, founder Claude Nobs said.

Looking out over Lake Geneva and the snow-capped Alps from his chalet, Nobs, a former cook and an accomplished blues harmonica player, said the focus at Montreux from July 2-17 this year would be on top-notch music.

"This year, we got lucky because we got all the major jazz attractions in Europe. And no other festival has all those guys," Nobs told Reuters during an interview at his home in the peaceful hills high above Montreux.

Nobs would not reveal any more about who might top the bill for the 44th Montreux festival until he and his team of organizers unveil the program on April 29, but he said they hoped to build on the success of 2009.

Last year's festival featured such diverse stars from the worlds of pop, rock and the blues as Lily Allen, Prince and B.B. King, alongside jazz stalwarts Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Jamie Cullum.

"This is the beauty of Montreux. I can do nights with totally different music and it still works," said Nobs, who was immortalized as "Funky Claude" in "Smoke on The Water," Deep Purple's song about the fire that gutted the Montreux Casino after a Frank Zappa concert in 1971.

A concert by former Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, announced in advance, could prove a good omen for the festival, taking place on July 2-17. Tickets are selling very well, with all online tickets already snapped up.

The festival's mix and match attitude to music is reflected in the masses of memorabilia crammed into Nobs's three houses, home also to dogs Kiku and Kuki and one of the world's largest and most important archives of live music on film.   Continued...