In celebration of the Amoeba Hollywood Jazz Blowout sale, I’ve been spending time on my computer checking out older Jazz videos. In the process, I have rediscovered the many great performances from the Montreux Jazz Festival, which is held in Switzerland during the month of July. The festival, which started in 1967, was originally held at the old Montreux Casino until, of course, it burned down in 1971. The fire was apparently caused by “some stupid with a flare gun” while Frank Zappa was playing. You might heard about it in a little ditty by Deep Purple called “Smoke On The Water.” The casino was rebuilt but due to the enormity of the festival, it is now held at the larger Convention Centre in Montreux with two main stages and several small stages.
Perhaps every legendary jazz artist you can think of has played Montreux. Over the years the festival has become less about jazz and has opened its doors to all kinds of music. Still, for any musician, this is the place to be seen. Over two hundred thousand people attend the festival every year and even more see the performances via television, web casts and through the many DVDs that have been released over the years.
Just watching the highlights of the forty-two year history of the festival on Youtube was overwhelming. There have been thousands of solos of all kinds and excellent musicianship throughout; however, it's the vocalists that provide some of my favorites performances. I picked three videos that feature Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Elis Regina.
Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me” was originally released in 1970. It was a number one single on Billboard’s R&B chart. This performance is from the 1971 Montreux Jazz Festival.
You got to love Nina Simone! She takes Morris Albert’s buzz kill of a song, “Feelings,” and just takes it out! Listen to how she mocks the original song in the beginning. The audience must have been in shock that this legend would even attempt to play this shallow song. But in the end, her amazing vocal performance is only matched by her incredible piano playing, and the feelings are indeed unleashed. This performance is from 1976 and you can catch more of it on her Live At Montreux DVD.
During the mid-seventies, the festival began to open its doors to many Brazilian artists. I love this performance by Elis Regina. Not only did she perform a medley of Milton Nascimento songs, but she completely swayed a dull and bored Swiss audience by her sheer will.
Not to cause confusion (since she's not technically jazz), but you can find Elis Regina releases in Amoeba Hollywood's World Music section, located under Brazil. Also, since Aretha is the Queen of Soul, that is is the section you'll find her in.
Amoeba Jazz Blow-Out Sale continues until August 28th. I have found some true gems for myself dirt cheap!
On Wednesday from 7-10 pm, Amoeba Hollywood's very own Rick Frystak will be doing an all jazz deejay set for your shopping pleasure. Do not sleep on this!