• Switzerland's news in English
Joy as jazz giants return to Swiss town of Montreux
Charles Lloyd was back on stage at the opening of this year's Montreux Jazz Festival, half a century after he headlined the first festival in the idyllic Swiss town in 1967. Photo: AFP

Joy as jazz giants return to Swiss town of Montreux

AFP · 2 Jul 2016, 10:52

Published: 02 Jul 2016 10:52 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The legendary American musician was back on stage at the opening of this year's Montreux Jazz Festival, half a century after he headlined the first festival in the idyllic Swiss town in 1967.

He was followed by fabled jazz pianist Monty Alexander, who first played Montreux in 1976, and who returned to revisit the celebrated recording he made on that occasion called "Montreux Alexander".

Forty years on, his fingers fly over the keys, prompting some in the 300-seat venue to jump out of their seats and start dancing in the aisles.

"It was just a mythical concert," enthused Jacques Emery, a 69-year-old pensioner.

"I was floating. I think actually I levitated in my seat."

That was the kind of almost spiritual experience Lloyd, 78, was aiming for, he told AFP ahead of Thursday's concert, saying he himself receives the music from a higher authority and just allows it flow through him.

"I like to go as an empty vessel as possible and let the creator fill me up and fill all of us," he said, smiling behind his dark glasses.

The septuagenarian sways and grooves on stage like a man half his age, arching his back and lifting his knee up to meet his saxophone.

"I'm drunk with the music and it informs me and it elevates me and puts me in the zone," he said.

Lloyd, who was one of the first jazz artists to sell more than a million copies of a record, first began playing with stars as a boy growing up in Memphis.

"I've been blessed to play with some of the greatest musicians on the planet. I've been around when giants roamed the earth," he said, listing blues legends like Howlin Wolf and BB King among those he has accompanied.

Jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, who used to stay at his childhood home when they came to town, also played a formative role in his musical education.

"They told my mother to have me be a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief, not this (jazz musician), because it's too hard," he said, "But I was bit by the cobra, so it was too late."

Jamaica-born Monty Alexander, 72, has also played with a number of luminaries over the course of his career.

Story continues below…

"I recorded with Tony Bennett, (and) I knew Miles Davis very well," he told AFP this week.

Like Lloyd, he also found a mentor in the Duke.

"Duke Ellington was one of the people that wrote a letter to the US immigration to allow me to stay in America," he said. "The other one was Frank Sinatra."

Alexander, who taught himself to play the piano as a boy but never learned to read music, says he considered himself "so fortunate to do something that didn't feel like I was working."

"I still feel like it's a dream. How can you make music and get paid for it?" he said.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available