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Montreux Hosts Sax Competition

When normal people think of Switzerland, it’s exquisite timepieces, heavenly chocolate and milkmaids with shiny blonde pigtails that immediately spring to mind. When jazz fans think of Switzerland, they think only of the Montreux Jazz Festival, that most famous Western European bastion of swing, improvisation and, now, competition.

Now in its second year, the World Sax Competition, held at Montreux and organized by the non-profit White Foundation, pits up-and-coming saxophonists against their peers in order to find the best jazz sax players and help them find success in the industry. The UK’s Soweto Kinch (pictured) won last year’s competition, judged by a discerning panel which included musicians Lee Konitz, Jean Toussaint, David Sanborn, Kirk Whalum and jazz historian Alyn Shipton. Aside from the exposure gained from playing at the world-renowned jazz festival, Kinch won gigs at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London, the London Jazz Festival, the 2003 IAJE Toronto Conference, interviews on the BBC and a performance slot at this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival. Also, more exposure: the 2002 competition was recently released on DVD, available at

This year’s Montreux Jazz Festival takes place July 4-19. The World Sax Competition will be held July 15-18. This year’s prizes include a CD recording and mastering package, a limited edition Selmer Reference 54 saxophone, performance slots at the following Montreux fest, the 2004 IAJE Conference, Ronnie Scott’s Club, BBC Radio 3 London Jazz Fest and Highlights in Jazz New York and cash money. If you’re a saxophonist interested in competing but born before January 1, 1973, you’re out of luck. The competition is for kids under 30. If you are young enough and think you have the stuff, grab an application from either or Act quick, the application deadline is April 21.

Originally Published