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Montreux Jazz Festival Launch
Stewart Smith , February 11th, 2016 13:30

Festival launches video archive taking in its almost 50-year history

Montreux Jazz Festival turns 50 in July this year. To celebrate, the Swiss festival has launched a new digital platform for its archive of concert videos. Montreux Jazz Live is the culmination of an eight-year project to digitise the festival's video archive, which goes back to 1967. Currently featuring over 800 videos, Montreux Jazz Live presents a wide range of festival footage in one place, with detailed information about each artist and show, intuitive links and playlists.

Classic performances by Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, David Bowie, Talk Talk, Wu Tang Clan and Motorhead, can all be found on the platform, alongside interviews, photo galleries and set lists. Watch the interactive video, featuring highlights from the archive, below.

Founded by the late Claude Nobs in 1967, Montreux Jazz Festival takes place every July on the shores of Lake Geneva. Beginning as a jazz, blues and soul festival, Montreux in its early years featured the likes of Charles Lloyd, Bill Evans and Nina Simone, alongside emergent European jazz artists such as Manfred Schoof and Jan Garbarek.

In 1968, the festival presented Aretha Franklin's first European concert and it has continued to be a major European showcase for American stars. After expanding its remit to rock music in the early '70s, the festival was immortalised in Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' which tells of the 1971 fire which destroyed the festival's original casino venue. Nobs famously helped with the rescue operations, carrying teenage fans out of the burning building.

Jazz remains a core part of the festival's programming. Recent editions have featured such legends as Jack DeJohnette and Herbie Hancock, alongside contemporary stars like Robert Glasper. The festival supports the next generation of jazz talent through its Jazz Academy and competitions. Away from the main stages, the festival also has an extensive programme of free events, from big band jazz in the park, to late night rock and electronic clubs.

The 2016 festival programme will be announced on April 16. In the meantime, find out what happened when The Quietus visited Montreux Jazz Festival 2014.