I’m standing in front of the tallest, most powerful water fountain I have ever seen. Water shoots into the sky like some sort of glorious tower of refreshment. I’m in Geneva, Switzerland – Germany’s neighbor to the south – at the southwestern tip of Lake Geneva. This is practically France, but more expensive. Some Italian friends drive up from nearby Milan and Turin, pick me up and we drive along the northern side of this lake through Lausanne to a lovely little town on the lake’s eastern end. A historic week of music happens here every year: the Montreux Jazz Festival. Invited by Jeep, I had the chance to get out of Berlin for a bit and explore this beautiful hotspot for music. Follow the jump for more about this unique escape from Berlin.
The Montreux Jazz Festival is less specifically about jazz and more about creative exploration and improvisation – these principles of jazz music have led to a diverse and expansive lineup of musicians, as musically distinct as they are impressive: Moderat, Sigor Ros, Grimes, Lana del Rey, PJ Harvey and DJ Shadow join Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Quincy Jones and many more. There’s enough diversity in sound to please the diverse crowd: a lively mix of old-timers, local teens, scenesters and aficionados. The promenade bustles with a myriad of fun shops, hotel bars and festive food stands along the gorgeous waterfront.
Jeep shares this spirit, encouraging freedom, improvisation and off-the-map exploration. The FCA company is a major sponsor of the festival, enthusiastically supporting this musical institution. They provide us with wheels to explore beyond the festivals borders.
We spend our days driving through the rolling hills of the lush countryside, taking in the surrounding natural beauty. Surely the setting itself is a major draw to the festival. And it’s so enjoyable to take it all in from the comfy confines of a modern sport utility vehicle (we were in a Cherokee). Playlists, pictures out the window, conversation: road trips are the best! We drive up a mountain to the mansion of Claude Nobs, the founder of this week’s celebration. It’s easy to appreciate the beauty from this spot, and the passion embodied here for musical culture.
Standing poolside, overlooking the alps, listening to conversations in French, Italian, English and German, I am feeling quintessentially European. When I moved to Berlin from the States, this sort of moment is what I had imagined: the interconnected cultures of the continent all coming together to appreciate the finer things in life, including the heights of American music. This is the European dream, I think: to bask in the relaxed lifestyle with sophistication and taste for contemporary living.
Cheers, prost, saluti, santé!
Check out more of the Montreux Jazz Festival here, and put it on your radar for the future 🙂
Thanks to Jeep for inviting me to take part in this trip and for the support for this post.