Let’s go to Montreux Jazz

It’s the time of the year: Pinkpop, Rock Werchter, Rosklide, Lollapalooza, North Sea Jazz,… there is not a day without at least one music festival going on somewhere in the world. Except maybe for 1969’s Woodstock, no festival is more legendary than Montreux Jazz. True, Montreal Jazz holds the Guinness World Record for being the biggest Jazz festival, but Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water refers to Montreux. Which other festival father can claim they are mentioned in one of the ten most classic rock songs ever? “Funky Claude” Nobs started his festival with friends Geo Voumard and Rene Lange in 1967 and, with the help from artists like Quincy Jones, he grew it to what is now a 16 days festival with lots of Jazz, but also major rock and pop acts, world music and many contests.

The first edition of the festival lasted for 3 days and was held at the Montreux Casino. The highlights of the first editions featured mainly jazz artists, including Nina Simone, Jan Garbarek, “Queen of Jazz” Ella Fitzgerald, Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans. In the seventies, the festival added more genres such as blues, soul, and rock. Over the past 45 years, the festival featured Marianne Faithfull, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, Prince, Gary Moore, Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, Eric Clapton, Luther Allison, Bo Diddley, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Etta James, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, New Order, Toto, Joe Satriani, Status Quo, and many many more.

Fortunately for the fans, the visionary Claude Nobs was clever enough to have every concert at the festival recorded (sound AND video) and keep those recordings for future reference. Together with EPFL (Lausanne University) and Montreux Sounds, the festival is now building a  massive archive of legendary concerts. In a first phase of the project, the concerts were just stored on tape, but as you can read here, the “live” archive, using Amplidata Storage, had some fans drooling.  One of the masterminds behind the project, Alexandre Delidais from EPFL, will talk about the project at this year’s festival. Earlier, he had the following to say about the unique Montreux Sounds – EPFL – Amplidata partnership: “This partnership provided a fantastic opportunity to develop an innovative large-scale digital archiving solution that will store over 5000 hours of invaluable video footage. The result is a ground-breaking platform that will support the demands of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s fans for years to com. Soon, the Active Archive platform will be duplicated at Montreux Sounds making many of the concerts available at the Montreux Jazz Café outlets – something that historically could not be accomplished with existing archiving systems.”

While the current archive is not bigger than 2 Petabytes (peanuts for some, massive for others), the platform will need to scale far beyond that within the next few years. The simple reason for that is the quality of the recordings keeps improving. Numbers vary a lot depending on the vendor, the hardware, the compression etc, but from one wikipedia page we learn that the Red-Drive (a 640 GB external hard drive by the high-end camera manufacturer RED), which contains two 2.5 in hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration, can record about two hours of 4K footage (depending on the compression ratio of REDCODE). This means 1 TB stores about 3 hours of raw footage. This is peanuts, even when compared to HD recordings of the previous decade. Since the festival’s technology partners are continuously experimenting with the latest and greatest video recording technologies, expect this archive to explode beyond tens of petabytes very soon!

If music is your cup of tea, you might want to head down to Montreux right now; the festival runs from June 29th until July 14th. If you are into storage (and you understand some French) make sure you don’t miss the workshops “Le Project Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab” On Thursday 5 July, Alex Delidais will present “Saving the Festival’s Archives”, in which Delidais will elaborate on the meticulous job of digitizing the original tapes. Prof. Dieter Dietz will speak about “Preserving and providing  interactive access to the Festival’s Archives.”


~ by tomleyden on June 29, 2012.

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