A lakeside festival in a spectacular environment
The delightful Cully Jazz festival, that takes hold of a pocket-sized medieval village on the shores of Lake Geneva every spring, turns a new leaf. After 34 years of playing second fiddle to the more renowned Montreux jazz festival - and moving the same way towards the big names - Cully Jazz comes back to its roots.
No longer run by ethno-rock jazz diehards, the nine-day event is organised at the cusp of spring by younger kids this year, born and raised locally and who have been part of Cully Jazz since birth. They are bringing a breath of fresh air to a music genre that is old only in name.
There is the usual fare of mainstream artists in 2016, with the likes of Kenny Garrett and Yaron Herman, or Richard Galliano and Wayne Shorter, Ibrahim Maalouf and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, but the essence of Cully Jazz is discovery, much of which comes from Cuba this year.
The In Festival occupies a splendid marquee by the water, as well as an atmospheric chapel (the Temple) and improvised concert hall (Next Step).
The Off Festival includes 80 free concerts in 11 different venues throughout the village.
The novelty is that up-and-coming musicians are given free reign at the new Club du Jazz, with performances every evening by artists from both Switzerland and the EU.
Weather permitting, Cully Jazz is one of the most engaging music events of the year. At the heart of the Lavaux UNESCO world heritage site, it is best reached by train, although shuttle buses are organized for those who come by car and don’t mind parking miles away.
Cully is also renowned for the great beer and food served under tents, as well as good wine in the cellars where many of the concerts take place.
Time Out discovery selection:
8 April Next Step – Scarecrow, French Blues Hip-hop that clashes the blues of cotton fields with the rap of urban landscapes.
8 April Temple – Kaleidoscope String Quartet from Zurich combines virtuosity with spontaneity to produce a crossover of different musical languages and melodic improvisations.
9 April Next Step – Norwegian phenomenon Grammy nominated one-man band Bernhoft reinvents funk and soul sounds of the 70s under a layer of his unqualifiable voice.
11 april Next Step – Mathis Haug, a French Eric Clapton on amphetamines, but with compelling charm and a flavour of real blues.
14 april Next step – Harleighblu comes from a place very far away called British nu-soul, with her blend of explosive and intense vocal music.