Montreux Jazz Festival Debuts in Miami

Montreux Jazz Festival Debuts in Miami

BY Matt Meltzer | March 5, 2024

The Montreux Jazz Festival debuted in Miami for the first time over the weekend. In its nearly 60 years, the world-renowned Lake Geneva festival has seen everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Sam Smith graced its stages and debuted in Miami with a stellar lineup of jazz, adult contemporary and international music, including Jon Batiste, Daryl Hall, and the Wailers. And much like another big Swiss festival that’s seen success in South Florida, Montreux Miami is angling to be the city’s next big destination event.

The Montreux Jazz Festival Miami was held at the Hangar at Regatta Harbor, about three miles from Downtown Miami and across the causeway from South Beach. The venue has its own unique history, a World War I-era Naval Air Station dating back to 1918 that was converted into an exhibit hall and arena in the 1950s. It later gained fame as the spot where The Doors’ Jim Morrison was arrested in 1969.

Montreux Music Festival Miami co-founder Adam Fell said his team crafted an experience for super fans with seated VIP areas and food from some of the city’s top restaurants. Moreover, the limited capacity — they capped tickets at 1500 each night — ensured an intimate environment much like the one in Montreux, Fell said, and allows organizers to “superserve” the artists in the same fashion.

“Spend some time on YouTube and type ‘live at Montreux’ and look at Led Zeppelin or Marvin Gaye, and you’ll start seeing a pattern,” Fell says. “Every artist gets up and says, ‘I’ve been on tour for two months, and I finally feel like I’m home.”

Jon Batiste, the Oscar-and-Grammy-winning musician, who some may recognize from Stephen Colbert’s house band, headlined each of the festival’s first two nights. He was joined onstage by fellow Grammy winner Israel Haughton and Brazilian star Lia de Itamaraca who made her first U.S. performance. The lineup also included Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates, the Wailers, and Afro-Cuban funk star Cimafunk, among others.

Cimafunk photographed by Michael Weintrob

The lineup also included noted pianist Justin Kauflin, singer Cecile McLorin Salvant (a Miami native with two Grammys to her credit), singer Emily Estefan, Montreux veteran Daniela Mercury and singer/songwriter Seu Jorge.

The lineup repped “what Montreux is known for, which is having special combinations of good music,” Fell said. Each night of the festival concluded with the famous Montreux Jam Session, when the day’s performers return to the stage to jam with the house band.