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Wednesday, 16 July 2014
The Bolton School Joint Jazz Band spent a fantastic weekend at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival. They had been invited to perform two sets on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th of July at Parc Vertex, one of the festival’s free venues, both of which were very well received by the audience.
Members of the Joint Jazz Band wrote the following report of their fantastic time in Switzerland:
“Our visit to the world’s most prestigious jazz festival began with an unfamiliar air of calm as, in exceptional circumstances, we arrived outside the Auditorium Stravinsky over half an hour before our designated unloading time. This calm, however, was not to last. Amidst the drizzle and stray instruments we made our way to the backstage area of the ‘Music in the Park’ stage, taking the time to befriend some of the members of the Australian band who had preceded us at the venue. Then the time came for us to set up and do the sound check, with the trombone section’s fancy bar stools perhaps attracting more attention than the swarm of sound engineers who, in largely broken English, were desperately trying to test the levels.
“The performance itself was greeted with warmth by the amassed crowd who, armed with coats and umbrellas, appreciated the recognisable and groove-driven pieces. The opening number – Chick Corea’s ‘Spain’ – set the tone for what was to follow as the spotlight fell on Zak to open with a piano solo, bringing the audience to a hush. Following ‘Spain’ came pieces such as Weiner’s ‘Cruisin’ For A Bluesin’’, Phil Collins’s ‘Chips n Salsa’ and Santana’s ‘Soul Sacrifice’, which were received with a great deal of applause. The set concluded with Benoit’s ‘São Paulo’ as we said our goodbyes to the Parc de Vernex for the day.
“That night we headed back to the Strav (as it’s known colloquially) to watch both Laura Mvula and Jamie Cullum. The corridors on the way to the main auditorium were lined with large prints of musicians who had graced the stage previously, further increasing the sentiment that this was a truly special venue. With the likes of Miles Davis and B. B. King looking on from the walls, we entered the standing area; anticipation and excitement tangible through the first few songs of his set, featuring the hit ‘I’m All Over It’ amongst others. His virtuosic style was incredibly impressive and he certainly wasn’t afraid to experiment, whether it be in using the piano as a percussion instrument, beat-boxing or even trying his hand as a cameraman; there was no stopping a man who was clearly at home on such a grand stage.
“Saturday brought with it our second performance at the festival, as well as a chance to explore the rest of the surrounding area. The tweaked set saw Maynard Ferguson’s ‘Birdland’, already a band favourite, receive an equally positive reaction from the crowd. Credit should be given here to Ian for valiantly attempting to emulate Ferguson’s renowned, squealing trumpet playing (centred largely in the upper reaches of the instrument’s range). In what is likely to be one of their final performances with the band, Jenny, Ellie and Natasha (all saxophone), Zack (Trombone) and Alex (Electric Guitar) weighed in with solos throughout the program; whilst Alistair (Bass Guitar), Juliet (Trombone) and Dan (Trumpet) contributed in other ways.
“The festival brought with it many opportunities to explore a range of both music and food, ranging from blues to samba and paella to Swiss chocolate. The beautiful setting, by the side of Lake Geneva, offered a picturesque background. We took full advantage of this when the sun decided to make a rare appearance on Sunday, making a welcome change from the downpours of previous days!
“In the afternoon we were lucky enough to meet Paloma Faith who not only had her picture taken with us, she also signed our programme.
“On Sunday night we returned to the Strav to watch Robin Thicke and Paloma Faith, which was certainly an experience. Paloma’s energy and Robin’s exuberance won over most, despite prior concerns that attending would mean missing the World Cup Final!
“Although sad to leave the festival we are now looking forward to performing in Luxembourg.”
Listen to the Joint Jazz Band’s opening performance of ‘Spain’ by Chick Corea via the school’s Soundcloud:
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