Newly Swissed Online Magazine

Unexpected Notes from the Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux Jazz Festival - Copyright by Montreux Jazz Festival

I imagined a jazz festival with deep bass strings humming, whisker like drum sticks scratching jazz beats, and husky divas or melancholic trumpets vibrating our sorrow, like Sarah Vaughan’s or John Coltrane’s.

All that jazz.

I guess I was too orthodox or retro, recalling my old memory from my Dad’s LP records. Or, a tribute to Kobe, my college-town in Japan more famous for its massaged beef than its jazz bars hidden in almost every corner.

Erykah Badu - Copyright Paige ParsonSo, I was so surprised when I found Erykah Badu listed as a performer at this July's Montreux Jazz Festival. I love her silky voice and spicy lyrics, composing melodious poems dedicated to womanhood.

In fact, as a Japanese high school student, I learned and practiced my English with her songs. However, in the mid 90's, my small hometown way in the south of Japan did not carry her songs in any Karaoke boxes.

They barely carried the Beatles, had no space for R&B - and forget about neo-soul!

I was this funky girl living by sweet potato fields, listening to a soul singer's prayers. And, since when has Erykah Badu turned into a jazz singer?

Oh no, don't get me wrong! I love to hear it and I know I will love it, so I am so going!

But, the question remains in Montreux. Even more shockingly, the ticket includes M.I.A. What? Is she going to rap jazz numbers? (Gee, that would be amazing, actually...)

Maybe Montreux invited her free spirit, with American street pain jamming like jazz. Then, I discovered that the following night on July 8th, the stadium will host a group of Brazilian artists. Rio de Jazz?

Montreux Jazz Festival - Copyright 2006 Muriel Rochat - Montreux Jazz Festival Foundation

Now, I am very confused but excited with pure love for music. Isn’t this the same sort of sensuality that Freddie Mercury loved about Montreux? I cannot wait to find out.

Yet, my absolute concern is what to wear for the Erykah Badu/M.I.A. night and the Brazilian concert. For sure, my suitcase will be filled with lots of sparkling colors and different height of heels and sneakers.

Having never been to the Montreux Jazz Festival nor any other open air concerts in Switzerland, I have another silly, naïve, but very serious question: How much cash to bring? And should I keep it in a purse, my pockets, or even my bra?

Just checking the hotel prices in and around the festival makes me keep adjusting my budget... Any advice from last year, or better yet from true Montreux veterans?

(Pictures copyright 2007 Lionel Flusin, 2006 Muriel Rochat - Montreux Jazz Festival Foundation, as well as Paige Parson)


Mamiko truly loves to discover Switzerland through the Newly Swissed "frame" with her Japanese eyes for details and a spark of American curiosity. She wants to connect Newly Swissed with businesses and organizations in Switzerland and expand the network.


  • We went last year just for one day / one night, it was excellent. The ‘paid’ concert was so very expensive (it was Natalie Cole), but there were loads of free concerts too before and after.

    The festival is just in town so you’re never really that far away from an ATM – so we didn’t have any cash worries :) The hotels were definitely expensive, but an Airbnb apartment might be a cheaper option!

    Viel spass!

  • It’s too late now, but for next year, reserve a semi private room at the Auberge de Jeunesse in Territet already now. It’s in walking distance along the gorgeous and famous Flower Trail (about 20 Minutes!). It’s one of the nicest, cleanest, super-modern Jugis in CH, right on the lake, with Jugi rates! Walter, the Bernese Gerant, is a bit gruff but really has a heart of gold while Christine, his French wife, is a sweet sugar cube! They both spent half of their lives in the Orient, even got married there, and speak several languages. No, I didn’t get paid to say all these nice things, but I’ve been there numerous times. Finding a hotel in Montreux during Le Jazz is crazy, but Hotel Tralala, a designer hotel with fairly reasonable rates, in Old Town Montreux on the hill would be my choice. Very modern, smaller rooms, and the hotel’s also in walking distance. Busses are free during Le Jazz, so take the one that stops right across the hotel entrance. Enjoy!

  • Three years on and the question remains : what to wear to montreux jazz festival? I can’t believe no one has commented on this post! Are there no people in Switzerland concerned with dressing appropriately? Maybe you, Miss Mamiko, could give me a piece of advice and share your experience?

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