Metropolis is proud to have mastered Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG’s new Nina Simone and Etta James’ live albums as part of The Montreux Years series. Nina Simone: The Montreux Years and Etta James: The Montreux Years uncover rare and previously unreleased performances by the music icons from the festival’s 55-year history. Simone and James’ albums are the first releases of the series, available on Friday 28th May 2021, both mastered by Tony Cousins from Metropolis Studios. Each collection has been MQA encoded and will also be accompanied by exclusive liner notes and previously unseen photography.
Founded in 1993 by Ian Cooper, Tony Cousins and Tim Young, Metropolis Mastering continues to lead the industry to a standard never previously achieved, working with iconic artists including Adele, George Michael, Seal, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Robbie Williams and Massive Attack, just to name a few. Tony Cousins’ latest work on The Montreux Years series demonstrates his credibility and reputation within the industry, delivering his prime objective of retaining the integrity of the music while enhancing it to some degree.
As part of an interview with MQA, Tony explains how and why he got involved with this project:
“I knew Fraser (Kennedy – Executive Producer) and about 10 years ago he asked me ‘Are you interested in meeting some of the team from Montreux to talk about the possibility of doing something with the catalogue?’ To which I replied ‘Of course!’ which led to an initial meeting at The Dorchester with several Swiss gentlemen.”
“It’s been a highlight because it’s music I know from a musical perspective. After I left school, I joined a band and we ended up playing in Morocco for a couple of summer seasons in the late 1960s. By happy coincidence, the owner of the Moroccan hotel where we were performing was a huge Nina Simone fan and he managed to book her for a week. We were in awe of her, so dumbstruck. Seeing Nina Simone in ‘68, she was really at her peak.”
“The Montreux archive is astounding and unique, and it’s been fantastic to be able to revisit it. It’s been an amazing listening experience.”
The live albums, which will be available in multiple-format configurations, including double LP and two-disc CD editions, feature sublime collections of the musical icon’s finest Montreux Jazz Festival performances, including previously unreleased material, all restored to their full glory and more. The audio will also be available on digital download and streaming services.
Nina Simone’s story from the late sixties to the nineties can be told through her legendary performances in Montreux. Taking to the Montreux stage for the first time on 16 June 1968 for the festival’s second edition, Simone built a lasting relationship with Montreux Jazz Festival and its Creator and Director Claude Nobs and this unique trust and electricity can be clearly felt on the recordings.
Simone’s multi-faceted and radical story is laid bare on Nina Simone: The Montreux Years. From Nina’s glorious and emotional 1968 performance to her fiery and unpredictable concert in 1976, one of the festival’s most remarkable performances ever witnessed, the collection includes recordings from all of her five legendary Montreux concerts – 1968, 1976, 1981, 1987 and 1990.
Featuring rare and previously unreleased material from Claude Nobs extensive collection of recorded material (Montreux Sounds), Nina Simone devotees worldwide will be thrilled by the inclusion of the powerful I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, poignant and fearless Four Women and Simone’s hauntingly beautiful performance of Ne Me Quitte Pas.
A spine-tingling version of Janis Ian’s searing and potent Stars, which Simone covered for the very first time during her 1976 Montreux performance, sits alongside her bold and electrifying re-imagine of Bob Marley’s ballad No Woman No Cry in 1990. The collection closes with the encore of Nina Simone’s final Montreux Jazz Festival concert and one of Simone’s most-loved and best-known recordings, the exuberant My Baby Just Cares For Me, showcasing the deep and multidimensional facets of Simone’s life and music.
The CD edition of Nina Simone: The Montreux Years will also include Simone’s 1968 landmark concert in full, the first time the full concert will be available on CD.
Etta James: The Montreux Years is a treasure trove of timeless classics, powerful and electrifying performances and raw, soaring vocals by one of the greatest ever female vocalists. The collection, featuring recordings from James’ live at Montreux concerts in 1977, 1978, 1989 1990 and 1993, encapsulates and reflects Etta’s dynamic artistry and long-lasting impact. Spanning performances from across three decades, Etta James: The Montreux Years offers deeply personal and intimate snapshots into James’ acclaimed musical journey, highlights and her phenomenal career.
From one of Etta James’ earliest successes, the infectious and endlessly elegant Something’s Got A Hold On Me, a medley that consist of At Last, Trust In Me and Sunday Kind of Love, which is a fusion of highlights from the early 60s, to the raw and emotional I’d Rather Go Blind and soulful horn-driven Tell Mama. The collection closes with Baby What You Want Me To Do, James’ homage to Jimmy Reed and the encore of her 1979 concert.
In 1975, Claude Nobs captured a significant moment of musical history – Etta James’ very first concert in Europe, performing at the festival’s 9th edition. The CD edition of Etta James: The Montreux Years will include highlights of this special landmark concert, held at Montreux Casino on 11 July 1975.
Thierry Amsallem, Claude Nobs’ Universal Legatee, Chair/CEO of Montreux Sounds and Chair of Claude Nobs Foundation, says:
“The Montreux Jazz Festival has always been a leading showcase for the international music scene, as well as a meeting place for musicians and music lovers. The magic of Montreux lay in the encounters between musicians. There were unique events that will never be repeated. The idea was to allow artists to get off the beaten track and avoid replaying their usual repertoire. But here, we treated them like royalty and offered them the best conditions in the world, in terms of sound quality and audio-visual recording technology.”
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