Heidi Happy – A Swiss artist who will blow your blues away

The box office is now open for the Cully Jazz Festival and here are some hot tips to make your choice of concerts ahead of the crowds. Small in size, the festival is huge in inspiration.

Over the years, the Cully Jazz Festival (March 27-April 4) has become the jazz connoisseur’s answer to the Montreux Festival, now considered to be as close to jazz as … baseball is to cricket.

This year Cully offers again the enjoyable jazz cocktail that has become its hallmark, with surprising musical discoveries from the world over alongside mainstream artists.

The result of the jazz panorama is that there is something for everyone, from the adventurous to the conventional, including more than 60 free concerts and nine DJ evenings.

Bringing the main program to your finger tips, Swisster invites you to explore the following links to confirm or discover your preferences.

This year’s prestige event will celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the legendary “Blue Note” label (who brought us Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and more recently Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson). The “All Stars Night” on 31st March will be a concoction of five Blue Note artists from both sides of the Atlantic, including the world famous saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Ron Carter and pianist Jacky Terrasson.

Staying in the mainstream vein, Abdullah Ibrahim, the South African composer and pianist formerly known as Dollar Brand and often compared to Thelonius Monk (also a Blue Note artist), will be giving a rare solo performance. Moving on, the ageless Grammy award-winner, John Hammond, whose stage colleagues included Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, will be strumming a blues afternoon with his guitar and harmonica.

If you melt at the sound of a saxophone, Joshua Redman, son of Dewey, is bringing his trio and his own free and gentle compositions to Cully.

And how a musician who plays to his feet can make us soar so high is the mysterious achievement of the Swiss-French trumpeter, Erik Truffaz. He belongs to that uncommon breed of artists who can entwine their music into the notes of other performers to create new genres. On one evening he will be playing with Talvin Singh, the Asian Underground tabla player of Madonna fame and Murcof for his hispano-electro sounds. On another he will be pitching into the beat boxer, Sly Johnson’s vocal escapades. Not to be missed.

Erik Truffaz and Sly Johnson

To be exciting, a festival must also lead to discovery. See the artists who are heading for the big time and discover them first in Cully: Yaron Herman sets fire to the key-board, the Swiss group, Rusconi, are the quintessence of jazz dreaminess and Avishai Cohen’s trio produces a jazz that is upbeat, elegant and fierce.


Ladies are getting their voices heard as well. From the 78 year-old Buena Vista star, Omara Portuondo, to the 25 year-old Swiss sensation, Sophie Hunger, from the Celtic-sounding songs from Mali by Oumou Sangare to the squeaky Haitian blues by Canadian artist, Melissa Laveaux, the concerts will be mellifluous, but powerful. And don’t forget to keep a bit of space for Happy Heidi who will blow your blues away.

The amazing Sophie Hunger

For nine days, the small village of Cully becomes a musical carousel. Every café, every venue, even the town church vibrate late into the night to the tune of the invited artists. And because Cully lies at the foot of the Lavaux vineyards (recently inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site), opportunities to sample local wines contribute to the merriment.

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, was an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London, before moving to Switzerland and becoming an arts journalist.

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