Film Review: THEY ALL CAME OUT TO MONTREUX (directed by Oliver Murray | Tribeca Film Festival)

Post image for Film Review: THEY ALL CAME OUT TO MONTREUX (directed by Oliver Murray | Tribeca Film Festival)

by Kevin Vavasseur on June 11, 2024

in Film,Music

Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.

— David Binder, Artistic Director of BAM in Brooklyn

Montreux July 14, 2008 MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL 75th Anniversary Celebration
Claude Nobs with Quincy Jones (Edouard Curchod)

Yes, they did. And still do. From David Bowie to Aretha Franklin. From Deep Purple to Etta James. From Muddy Waters to Carole King to Nina Simone to The Rolling Stones to Questlove to Prince to Santana to Janelle Monae to many, many more. Everyone who was anyone in jazz, blues, rock and beyond. Over the years, thousands of musicians from practically all traditions and nationalities have traveled to Montreux, Switzerland to perform at that top tier of music gatherings, the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival. But who conceived, birthed, raised, maintained and, eventually, let go of direct management of this world renowned event? That person, born and raised in Montreux himself, was Claude Nobs.

Aretha Franklin (Georges Braunschweig)
The Crows at MJF

In this informative and fascinating documentary, They All Came Out to Montreux, director and screenwriter Oliver Murray creates a compelling narrative using revealing interviews with friends, staff, and famous musicians to paint a detailed picture of the effusive and determined Nobs, who single-mindedly grew his vision for a local jazz festival into the internationally respected event it eventually became. Besides the interviews, editors Janka Troeber and Tim Thompsett’s precision work includes generous sections of stunning performance footage of many name artists in their prime. They also insert unvarnished, off-stage moments like Aretha, in 1971, prepping in her dressing room, Miles Davis being fitted for a new outfit or David Bowie and Queen drinking together at a barbeque in Claude’s backyard.

Quincy Jones and Sting
Miles Davis performing live onstage (Photo by David Warner Ellis/Redferns)

Nobs proved to be a very forward thinker as well, recording and archiving footage of the festival since its start in 1967. This effort has resulted in thousands of hours of visual history that has all been digitized for posterity by The Claude Nobs Foundation. Known for having an encyclopedic knowledge of music and musicians, Nobs also recorded live albums at Montreux of individual artists.  These live recordings both promoted the festival and the musician, becoming must-have discs for music lovers. To help with those live recordings, Nobs also built a recording studio in the Montreux Casino for visiting artists. It was in that studio where, after Claude’s casual urging of “…why not go do some work?”, Queen and Bowie left the barbecue and, two hours later, came back with the hit song , “Pressure”. The Rolling Stones was the first group to book the newly opened studio, causing Nobs to casually comment, “Not a bad start.” Of course, producing the festival was not all smooth sailing and time is given to the many obstacles the festival faced over the years, including Nobs’ unfair arrest for being gay.

1970 Poolside crowd at Montreux (Georges Braunschweig Photography)
Claude Nobs and Muddy Waters 1974

Ultimately, the documentary reveals how one man made a huge cultural difference. The project also underscores how Claude’s life work initiated from a deep place of love, warmth, humanity and inclusion within the man himself. As Quincy Jones states about the festival, “You can’t describe it, words don’t do it justice. You just have to come and experience it.” Apparently, the same can be said for the lovable, powerful and welcoming Mr. Claude Nobs.

Prince, 2009 (Edouard Curchod)
David Bowie

They All Came Out to Montreux
produced by Bill Lord
feature | documentary | UK | 92 minutes | English
reviewed June 9, 2024 at Tribeca Film Festival

Leave a Comment