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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

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