Hello from Montreux!
It's a rather soggy city at the moment, but we're here and it's great. Took a cab into Geneva this morning, caught a tram from there back to the main train station, and took a train from there into Montreux, arriving at about 1pm. The hotel is great--right on the water--and includes FAST in-room Wifi access, so I can actually update my iPod and do a bit of rainy-weather web-surfing. Cool.
Spent a little time at the festival today, and I have to admit that I was a little taken aback by something that, apparently, everyone but us already knows: there is precious little Jazz to be heard at the Montreux Jazz Festival. A quick sample of the playbill includes The Chemical Brothers, Placebo, the Beastie Boys, Tori Amos, Jeff Beck, Ricky Lee Jones, the Wu Tang Clan, Sly and the Family Stone... etc., etc. The "surprise" jazz show, announced on the 6th, was Prince. Granted, I would have gone to see him if the show hadn't sold out within minutes, but it's still a little odd to have expected, well.... jazz... and then find out that nine out of ten acts are pop/rap/blues. Clearly this has been the case for years--I don't know why it took me so much by surprise.
Getting over this small prejudice, however, means I can accept the event on its own terms and get back to digging it. Today, we stopped by one of the outdoor venues to see a high school band from Apple Valley, Minnesota, as we had run into the parents of one of the players in the hotel lobby. The band played very well, and it was a kick to hear that their tour would also include performances in Paris and at the North Sea Jazz festival. Kudos to their director for being so ambitious, and to the parents of these kids who apparently served beer at innumerable Vikings games to raise the funds. Those kids are having an experience none of them are likely to forget.
After lunch of a doner kebab (food is shockingly expensive here, which makes fast food WAY more attractive than usual), we wandered around a bit and then came back to the hotel for a nap. Striking out again at about 9pm, we hit the Montreux Jazz Cafe, which is really a pop venue/bar. The lighting was cool, though, and they allowed cameras so I had a lot of fun taking pictures. Some of the early results are posted here; I'm going to have to give a few of these more post-processing attention, but I'll get to it when I'm home.
Tomorrow's agenda includes a workshop with Quincy Jones, the evening concert with Chick Corea and Gary Burton, and a midnight concert with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band. Can't wait!