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of jazz

© fotoSwiss.com/cattaneo

From elegant Umbrian palazzos to majestic Alpine mountaintops, these leading jazz festivals combine the great musical art form with resplendent scenery – creating the perfect excuse for a bluesy, brassy trip this summer

Festival da Jazz, Switzerland

4 July-4 August 2019

Nestled within the dramatic mountain ranges of the Swiss Alps, the Festival da Jazz is one of Europe’s highest-altitude festivals. The lakeside allure of St Moritz brings an atmosphere of old-school glamour to the event, which takes place in the woods, by the lake, and inside the resort’s clubs and luxury hotel bars, including the Embassy Bar at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. 

The key attraction for jazz aficionados is the opportunity to see headline acts in cosy, intimate spaces. This year’s talented line-up includes Gilberto Gil, Chick Corea, Othella Dallas, Aloe Blacc, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Nigel Kennedy.

Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy

12-21 July 2019

Held in the historic capital of Italy’s green beating heart, the Umbria Jazz Festival presents artists from the world stage in a charmed Italian setting. Spend the day soaking up la dolce vita, catching an act in the Giardini Carducci and savouring delicacies such as torta al testo. When night falls, you can while away the evening hours with a balmy night of music.

This year, don’t miss Diana Krall, Paolo Conte, Kamasi Washington and King Crimson, whose sounds will fill Perugia this summer. Venues include the glamorous 18th-century theatre, Teatro Morlacchi, and the frescoed Sala Podiani inside the palatial Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.


16-20 July 2019

First held on the sun-soaked French Riviera in 1948, the Nice Jazz Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious celebrations of jazz in the world. Its reputation was established from the beginning, with Louis Armstrong headlining the first festival. Since then, Miles Davis, Ella Fitgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock have all graced its stages.

The festival takes place in Nice’s grand palm tree-lined square Place Masséna and the outdoor Théâtre de Verdure. These days the programme offers an eclectic, genre-traversing line-up, and this year the likes of Nile Rodgers & Chic, Black Eyed Peas, Neneh Cherry, Ezra Collective, Kokoroko and Omara Portuondo will be entertaining audiences.


29 June-6 July 2019

Each June the streets of Montreal welcome two million jazz lovers, a feat that has honoured it with the Guinness World Record for the world's largest jazz festival. Entertaining this vast audience are more than 3,000 musicians from across the globe, taking up residence in the city’s parks, theatres and bijou jazz clubs.

With such a packed programme, the line-up is inexhaustible and sure to satisfy even the most voracious jazz fans. Highlights this summer include Patricia Barber, Steel Pulse, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Peter Frampton, Courtney Barnett, Buddy Guy, Colin James, Melody Gardot and Dianne Reeves.


27-29 September 2019

The grassy, tree-lined Monterey County Fairgrounds was the backdrop to the 1967 Summer of Love, when Joplin, Hendrix and The Who played to crowds of Californian hippies and counter-culturalists. But long before then it was known as the home of the Monterey Jazz Festival, with the likes of Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong and his All Stars demonstrating their talents.

Rounding off the summer, this late-season festival has a distinctly contemporary line-up this year, with Diana Krall, Chris Botti, Snarky Puppy, Kenny Barron and the Dave Holland Trio, Christian McBride, Tank and The Bangas, Bob James, David Sanborn and Marcus Miller all on the bill for the main arena stage.

The non-profit festival also supports a new crop of musicians with its Jazz in Schools and Next Generation programmes, ensuring the blue note legacy will continue for years to come.

Published July 2019


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