Canadian singer-songwriter Bobby Bazini has just completed the Montreux Jazz Festival Fairmont World Tour along with fellow musician Jalen N’Gonda. The tour took the musicians across the globe to perform in 13 Fairmont Hotels in spectacular destinations, with Jalen performing throughout North and South America and Bobby taking the stage through Europe and the Middle East. The tour concluded at the home of the festival, Hotel Fairmont Le Montreux Palace on the shores of Lake Geneva, overlooking the snow-capped Alps. In Montreux, Bobby and Jalen came together for one final performance to celebrate the world’s most well-known jazz festival, which celebrates its 54th birthday this July.
Brummell talked to Bobby Bazini about the tour, the cultural and musical importance of the Montreux Jazz Festival, and what it was like playing in Fairmont Hotels across the world.
What does the Montreux Jazz Festival mean to you?
Since I was young, I have always watched videos of my favourite artists performing jazz at the festival. It was always a dream of mine to perform there. Having performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, which is perhaps the second biggest jazz festival in the world, the Montreux Jazz Festival was next on my dream list. When I got the opportunity to play at the festival last year, I was so excited! The whole band was thrilled to come. It means a lot to play a big festival like Montreux, and I watched it all again afterwards while on tour, it’s crazy and unreal. Another thing that’s great about the festival – it started as a pure jazz festival but it has expanded over the years. I’m not a jazz artist – my influences are from all over the place and include blues, soul and even jazz but there’s a place for me here.
And what does it mean to the wider music scene?
It is such a big festival, one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, if not the biggest. The history of who has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival is just incredible – it is a very important and prestigious festival. I feel really grateful that they take up-and-coming artists like me and Jalen, who are trying to break outside of where we are from, and send us on a tour like this. It is just amazing that they would do something like that.
What has your journey on the world tour been like so far?
After playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival we got this incredible opportunity with Fairmont to tour the world. I had been to hardly any of the cities before and some were places I never thought I’d get to visit, such as Abu Dhabi and Istanbul. I left my home in Quebec on 20 February then we flew to Istanbul and travelled from there. In each destination we’re trying to discover the city and culture, to take a portrait of the city we’re in, and the Fairmont Hotels have been the perfect places to do that from. We had the best time on the tour, and the best food. I will always have great memories of the experience.
Do you find travelling inspiring?
Yeah, especially the cities we have visited. I think this journey has been very inspiring and will definitely bring me ideas, for sure. That’s how I usually get ideas for my songs, it is always with travel. Every time I start a new record I like to travel, visit new places, and live new experiences. This journey was exactly that so I am sure it will bring lots of stuff. It’s interesting too to see how cultures react to the music differently; every night it changes. It is never the same.
Which are your favourite jazz albums, artists and musicians?
This is a classic but I love Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. I just watched a video of Eric Clapton play at Montreux 30 years ago too and it was incredible. I am also listening to the new Michael Kiwanuka album, it’s quite phenomenal. I saw him for the first time last year perform at the Zermatt Unplugged festival. It was just amazing.
You’re from Quebec but mostly sing in English, have you thought about singing in French?
I have a little surprise in my next album that I can’t wait for my French-speaking fans to hear. Singing in French is something that I want to do more and more.
What do you think of Montreux as a place and as a festival? Is there a song of yours that you think sums it up?
I have some amazing memories of performing there last year. It was such a beautiful day, very sunny. We were playing while looking at the water and the mountains. One song I would say that makes me think of Montreux is Move Away – a new track that I just released. It is going to be on the next album. One of the first times we played it was at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and we opened the set with that. I saw people coming towards us until the front of the stage started filling up, and I really connect the song with that moment.
See more from Bobby Bazini’s Montreux Jazz Festival Fairmont World Tour on the festival’s website, montreuxjazzfestival.com