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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Jazz and more at Montreux
Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer
Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer performed to a packed audience
Switzerland's annual Montreux Jazz Festival always guarantees a buzzing atmosphere and an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the range of music on offer - and this year is no exception.

A tanned Swiss toddler climbs on to the low stage to get a closer view of the two African drummers whose rhythms thump out across the lake.

She stares at their flowing green and yellow robes for a few seconds in curiosity, touches the floor which is reverberating under her feet.

Then, with a dramatic flinging up of her arms and flinging back of her head, she starts to dance the samba.
Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay
Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay wore his best head wear for his show

And she dances rather well.

The two semi-professional samba dancers look a little shoddy beside her and they retire with good grace to the edge of the crowd.

The two-year-old spots her opportunity and milks it for all it is worth as the crowd cheers her on.

The Montreux Jazz Festival has always been an occasion to show off, both for performers and onlookers.

With its romantic setting beside the lake and dramatic mountainous landscape, Montreux is a Disney-like town which seems to promise magic and wonder.


The lakeside is cluttered with stalls selling everything from clothes and cassettes to jewellery and jams.

The enticing smell of exotic foods wafts deliciously in front of you, changing from crepes to chilli to cheese fondue every 10 yards.

Shirley Manson of Scottish band Garbage
Shirley Manson of Scottish band Garbage thrilled the crowds

"It's a bit like being at the Notting Hill carnival," says Helen, who has flown over for the festival from London.

"But it is even more multi-cultural and a lot more friendly somehow, although you can hardly move for the people.

"I keep hearing so many different languages and seeing so many different nationalities.

"Even if you don't like the music, people watching is entertainment enough."

As ever, Montreux attracts the big names in the performance world. And, as ever, most of them boast only loose connections with jazz.

This year, Paul Simon, Chris Rea, Joe Cocker, David Bowie, Gabrielle, US3 and Jamiroquai are in the line-up.

But anyone hoping for a ticket for their shows should have put their applications in months ago.


On the big nights, festival venues the Stravinski theatre and Miles Davis Hall are swamped with groupies hoping to blag their way past the burly security guards.

But if, like most, you do not get one of the sought after tickets, Montreux is still an experience that should not be missed.

There are scores of musical side shows along the lakeside, all free of charge, all very different - and almost all exceptionally good.

Matthew Bellamy from Muse
Matthew Bellamy from Muse was one of a number of rock acts

For the more sophisticated ear, the Petit Palais serves cocktails to guests seated at tables complete with starched white cloths.

At the same time, a black American band, dressed in black tie, plays blues in an unobtrusive hushed piano bar style.

Back on the lakeside, even if you are not a music connoisseur, it is easy to spot which bands are worth stopping for.

Crowds gather and blocks the thoroughfare when a band grabs attention.


One of the bands most responsible for the people jams this year has been the Southampton University Jazz Orchestra and their original jazz funk compositions.

Under the guidance of Joe Stillgoe - son of the musician and lyricist Richard Stillgoe - the band has caused jams along the lake for up to an hour at a time.

If the strollers enjoy the festival, devoted music fans are also unlikely to be disappointed.

A Brazil weekend saw a large Portuguese speaking contingent crammed into the Stravinsky Hall to see Joao Bosco perform his agonised love songs.

And a man in the audience cupping his face and silently weeping was symbol enough of the impact of many of the performances at Montreux.

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29 Apr 02 | N Ireland
13 Feb 02 | Music
11 Apr 02 | Music
31 Aug 01 | Reviews
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