Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG have announced the forthcoming releases of Nina Simone: The Montreux Years and Etta James: The Montreux Years on Friday, June 25, 2021. The live albums, which will be available in multiple-format configurati
Montreux Jazz Festival is a renowned music festival co-created by Claude Nobs and held annually in Montreux, Switzerland across two weeks in July. Now in its 55th year, the festival draws 250,000 music lovers from all across the world to the Lake Geneva shoreline. The event celebrates the industry’s emerging and contemporary acts, while paying homage to music’s legendary acts. Originally a pure jazz festival since its inception in 1967, Montreux began showcasing other styles of music throughout the decades and today presents artists from every genre imaginable. Artists who have graced the stage of Montreux include Etta James, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Ms Lauren Hill, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, James Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Leonard Cohen, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and many more. Mathieu Jaton has served as CEO of Montreux Jazz Festival since 2013.
Simone and James’ albums are the first releases of Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG’s brand-new collection series “The Montreux Years.” The collections will uncover legendary performances by the world’s greatest artists alongside rare and never-before-released recordings from the festival’s rich 55-year history, with mastering performed by Tony Cousins at London’s iconic Metropolis Studios, incorporating MQA to capture the original sound of these special live performances. Each collection will be accompanied by exclusive liner notes and previously unseen photography.
Nina Simone’s story from the late ’60s to the ’90s can be told through her celebrated appearances at the famed festival. Taking to the Montreux stage for the first time on June 16, 1968 for the festival’s second edition, Simone built a lasting relationship with the event and its co-creator and director Claude Nobs. This unique trust and electricity can be clearly felt on the recordings.
Simone’s multi-faceted and radical story is laid bare on Nina Simone: The Montreux Years. From a glorious and emotional 1968 performance to her fiery and unpredictable concert in 1976 (one of the festival’s most remarkable performances ever witnessed), the collection includes recordings from all five of Simone’s Montreux concerts: 1968, 1976, 1981, 1987 and 1990.
Featuring rare and previously unissued material from Nobs’ extensive trove of recorded material (Montreux Sounds), the release will thrill Nina Simone devotees worldwide with its inclusion of the powerful “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” poignant and fearless “Four Women” and Simone’s hauntingly beautiful performance of “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”
A spine-tingling version of Janis Ian’s searing and potent “Stars,” which Simone covered for the very first time during her 1976 Montreux performance, sits alongside her bold and electrifying 1990 re-imagining of Bob Marley’s ballad “No Woman No Cry.”The collection closes with the encore from Simone’s final Montreux Jazz Festival concert and one of her most-loved and best-known recordings, the exuberant “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” showcasing the deep and multidimensional facets of Simone’s life and music.
The CD edition of Nina Simone: The Montreux Years will also include Simone’s 1968 landmark concert in full, the first time the entire concert will be available on CD.
Etta James: The Montreux Years is a treasure trove of timeless classics, powerful and electrifying performances and raw, soaring vocals by one of the greatest-ever female vocalists. The collection, featuring recordings from James’ live at Montreux concerts in 1977, 1978, 1989, 1990 and 1993, encapsulates and reflects Etta’s dynamic artistry and long-lasting impact.
Spanning three decades, Etta James: The Montreux Years offers deeply personal and intimate snapshots of James’ phenomenal career, from one of her earliest successes, the infectious and endlessly elegant “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” to a medley of “At Last,” “Trust in Me” and “Sunday Kind of Love” (a fusion of highlights from the early ’60s), to the raw and emotional “I’d Rather Go Blind” and soulful horn-driven “Tell Mama.” The collection closes with “Baby What You Want Me to Do,” James’ homage to Jimmy Reed and the encore of her 1978 concert.
In 1975, Nobs captured a significant moment of musical history — Etta James’ very first concert in Europe, performing at the festival’s ninth edition. The CD edition of Etta James: The Montreux Years will include highlights of this special landmark concert, held at Montreux Casino July 11, 1975.
Thierry Amsallem, Claude Nobs’ Universal Legatee, Chair/CEO of Montreux Sounds and Chair of Claude Nobs Foundation, says: “The Montreux Jazz Festival has always been a leading showcase for the international music scene, as well as a meeting place for musicians and music lovers. The magic of Montreux lay in the encounters between musicians. There were unique events that will never be repeated. The idea was to allow artists to get off the beaten track and avoid replaying their usual repertoire. But here, we treated them like royalty and offered them the best conditions in the world, in terms of sound quality and audio-visual recording technology.”
Nina Simone: The Montreux Years and Etta James: The Montreux Years are the first releases of Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG’s upcoming multi-format live album collection series. Further “The Montreux Years” releases are soon to be announced.