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Montreux Jazz Festival has a special place among all jazz festivals. Throughout the 51 years of its existence it’s gathered an impressive collection of great names from the history of music. From jazz giants sich as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie and many more, to rock legends Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple and many others – have all played here. This year the three main stages hosted 105 concerts across different genres: Auditorium Stravinsky presented pop, jazz and world music, Montreux Jazz Club focused primarily on Jazz, and Montreux Jazz Lab – on different experiments with electronic music.

For two weeks this small beautiful city on lake Geneva transformed into a firework display of sound, rhythm and musical styles. Music was everywhere: musicians and entertainers performed on the streets, waiters sung and tap danced, the free program presented in the park and in the clubs gathered excited crowds.

The festival comprised not only the concerts in the three main venues, but also various workshops, talks and competitions. One of the workshops is going to have a great impact on all jazz lovers around the world. The main guest of the workshop was Quincy Jones (below) who is connected to the festival since 1991. He and TV producer Reza Ackbaraly announced the first ever subscription video-on-demand platform named Qwest TV. The purpose of this new project that launches this autumn is to introduce jazz to new generations.

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Jazz train gathered music lovers several times during the festival and carried them up to the mountains treating them to the sounds of New Orleans style bands. Jazz boat was another great addition of the festival. It provided the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Montreux from a different point of view.

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There were many great concerts during Montreux Jazz Festival this year but the most unusual and unexpected one for me was the Surprise concert created by Quincy Jones, Jacob Collier and Jonah Nilssen (below). Starting at 1.30am and finisishing at 4am, it was perhaps the latest jazz gig I’ve ever watched. The excited audience enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of this gig and the way young musicians improvised and easily supported each other, inventing and developing musical themes.

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I must confess that at first I was rather surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of pop music at major jazz festival. However, strolling past the statues of legendary musicians of the past lined up neatly on the embankment, it struck me that this is in fact the essence of the sprit of this charming vibrant city. Various musical genres coexist well here, each style of music finds its own audience and together they create one great festival of music!

Although I only had the pleasure of joining for seven out of 16 days, and many fabulous gigs were missed, I hope that my small photo gallery will help you to immerse yourself into the atmosphere of the marvelous Montreux Jazz Festival 2017.

– Tatiana Gorilovsky (story and photos)

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