The 43rd Annual Montreux Jazz Festival Attracts 230,000!

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Montreux Jazz Festival attracts 230,000

The 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival attracted an estimated 230,000 people this year, organizers said Friday. While many shows were free, some required a fee and still attracted 90, 000 fans to performances by acts like Wyclef Jean (pictured above), pop princess Lily Allen, blues great BB King and a special performance by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, who played a world premier of his new collaboration with Chinese musician Lang Lang.

Several acts, including King, also held open workshops for young guitarists and other aspiring musicians.

In all, around 100 bands and solo musicians put on shows, most for free,at the quiet resort town along the eastern end of Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

The headline event will take place Saturday night when Prince will perform two shows.

Claude Nobs, the founder of the festival and still one of the chief organizers, said Prince promised him that “I’m going to do a much better show than two years ago, ” when the musician first played Montreux to critical acclaim.

The total budget for the 16 days of music was 20 million Swiss francs (18.6 million dollars).

The estimates of attendees exceeded the original expectation by about 10,000 people, and included a forecast of music lovers who will attend on Saturday, the final day.

Montreux, the organizers of the festival say, has long since ceased being a jazz festival and, like every year since the late 1960s, has put on concerts by rock stars and performers in various other genres of music.

This year, the British electro act Underworld, made famous in the 1990s when the movie Trainspotting featured their songs, played a packed show on the opening night, while salsa musicians, including Oscar D’Leon, performed in the main hall.

Last Saturday, when Wyclef Jean performed, the festival broke its own record, bringing 25, 000 people to Montreux during the day.

The festival also announced that it would open its first cafe outside of Switzerland, at the Sydney airport, at the beginning of 2010. A similar cafe, which plays never-released recorded sound and video from the 43 years of music, already exists at Geneva’s international hub.

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