Recordings at the forefront of technology
In the late 60’s, the Festival co-produced with the Swiss National TV its first television broadcasts. The supports used at that time were analog 2-inch tapes. Then, spotting the latest advanced audiovisual technology at the Montreux TV Symposium, the Festival moved quickly from black and white to color (1970), from stereo to multi-track (1975), from standard definition to high definition (HDTV since 1991). The first recorder Ampex D2 No. 0001 operated in Montreux in the early 90s.
The 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997 and 2002 until today's editions of the festival were recorded in High Definition TV. The Festival even experimented 2K 3D in 2010 in partnership with the Nagra Kudelski Group, 4K 3D in 2012 with NPV3D and 3D audio and VR since 2016. The result is a huge catalog of concerts recorded and stored in different formats. All media are kept in a specially designed building in Montreux, regulating temperature and humidity.
Constitution of the archive
The creation of the archive began in 1988. Claude Nobs and his partner Thierry Amsallem sought, recovered and regrouped all the recorded material of that time. However, many dissipated items still remained in the possession of various partners such as the Television Suisse Romande (RTS) or stored in the archives of foreign television companies (NHK, Channel Four, BBC), record companies (Warner Music, Atlantic Records) and various post-production studios like Sony HDTV in Japan. All the precious audio-visual material has since been re-grouped and stored in the famous "bunker" belonging to Claude Nobs. The inventory process that resulted was a lengthy and laborious task which lasted several years. The challenge was to find all the tapes and identify their content. As a result of this detailed work, a comprehensive log has been kept to note all the relevant events taking place during each performance up until today. Scripts record all the song titles, musician names, artists, singer/songwriters and additional information such as musicians present on stage during impromptu jam sessions. This precious data has enabled the journey of the archives to be mapped through time, making it a unique contribution to artistic history. When the inventory challenge was completed, the magnitude of the Montreux Jazz collection was finally precisely measurable. The next chapter: digitization of the archives.
Every year since 1967, the festival has organized its own audiovisual production. We are sure that each original master tape recorded by our own studio, was stored directly, the same day, by our own crew, and securely in a specially managed location in Montreux and without any intermediates. Since their filing, the master tapes have never been moved outside this buliding. All audio and video content are precisely annotated in an on-line accessible database (coming soon):
Each original master tape is accompanied with its own contract from the Artist. The history of the documents and the chain of ownership are reliably known. Preservation of the Montreux Jazz Festivals content in the highest quality is one of the main objectives of this project. This is achieved by digitizing all the content of the archive at fullest resolution feasible and in an uncompressed manner with the current state of the art, and by storing it in a master archive (data tapes).
Most of the audiovisual media are masters in complete form. Only a few will be “reconstructed” versions that assemble the best material from different audio or video sources available at the time.