Quincy Jones brings jazz prodigies to Montreux stage

MONTREUX, Switzerland Mon Jul 2, 2012 12:28pm EDT

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MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Quincy Jones brought the future to the famed Montreux stage as young musicians from Azerbaijan, Cuba, North America and Slovakia stole the show from veteran openers Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea.

"This is the future, the young ones, they've turned it around and taken it back up top....It's all mixed up, Bebop and Hip Hop," the legendary U.S. producer told a sell-out audience at Miles Davis Hall.

"This is the best talent all over the planet. They blow my mind they're so young," he said, presenting the "Quincy Jones Global Gumbo Project" in the early hours on Monday.

Andreas Varady, a 14-year-old from Slovakia, dazzled like a pro on his red signature guitar "Bambino Deluxe" during "A Day in New York" and "Blues for Edward", accompanied by Cuban defector Alfredo Gonzalez on piano, Reinier "Negron" Elizarde on bass and Henry Cole on drums.

"My guitar is red because I like red. It's a bit smaller than an adult guitar," Varady, who turns 15 later this month, told the Geneva daily "Le Temps". "I'm still progressing, there is no reason for me to be worse tomorrow."

"I like this old music, but I'm still an adolescent of 2012. I listen to Jay Z, Common, Q-Tip, the hip-hop of my generation," he said, admitting to having hassled his parents to allow him to skateboard in a Montreux park along Lake Geneva.

Kevin Olusola, an American cellist and Yale graduate who combines hip-hop with "beatboxing" his instrument, got the crowd moving with "Julie-O Into Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus".

Claude Nobs, director and founder of the Swiss festival in its 46th edition, paid tribute to Jones - his co-director from 1991-93 - for coming from Los Angeles to produce the show.

"An evening like this needs a magician," he said.

Nobs then introduced Isfar Sarabski, a 22-year-old jazz pianist from Azerbaijan, saying: "Contrary to what you might think, there is remarkable music by remarkable people there."

The pony-tailed Sarabski pounded the keys with passion, including his own compositions, accompanied by Alexandr Mashin on drums and Makar Novikov on bass.

Nikki Yanowsky, a radiant and poised 18-year-old Canadian, sang a moving 'improv' duet with McFerrin, with Corea on piano.

Corea and McFerrin, who have teamed up for some two decades, performed classics including "All Blues" and "So What" by Miles Davis and "Bemsha Swing" by Thelonius Monk.

Jones, a 79-year-old who has been in the business for 65 years, produced Michael Jackson's "Thriller", one of the best-selling albums in history.

But "Q" confessed that he was now 40 pounds overweight and needed a chair to sit on stage for the evening, wearing a white suit and black hat with a gold rim.

"I've never enjoyed anything more in my life," he quipped.

Montreux, one of Europe's most prestigious summer festivals, runs until July 14, featuring Bob Dylan, Katie Melua, Hugh Laurie, Gilberto Gil and a disco evening produced by Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Paul Casciato)

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