There are no words to express the deep sorrow and hollowness in my heart that comes with news of Claude Nobs' passing. Claude was a valued and trusted friend and brother to me for close to forty years, but he was a valued and trusted friend to jazz and the artists who create it for his entire lifetime. It would be that love and appreciation for our music and the musicians that created it that would lead him to take over the Montreux Jazz Festival, and build it into what I consider to be the Rolls Royce of music festivals.
There is a universal bond that exists between musicians, a short-hand that allows us to communicate with each other on a very unique and spiritual level no matter what the language or background, and Claude Nobs knew all the chords. He was such a devout fan of the music and knowledgeable about it, not to mention a great harmonica player in his own right, that he felt it on the same spiritual plane.
Sinatra once told Basie and me...'live everyday like it's your last and one day you'll be right'. Claude and I lived that to the max. I have a million great memories of spending time with Claude in Montreux at the festival, from co-producing it with him, to conducting Miles Davis’ last concert, to the amazing gatherings of musicians that he has hosted at his chalet, to most recently partnering with him to expand the festival's brand internationally; it will be difficult to imagine him not being there. Our decades long friendship was born of a mutual love of music and life, filled with endless hours of laughter and suitcases of Balik Salmon, and I will miss him like the brother that he was to me. If God created a better friend than Claude Nobs, he or she must have kept them for him/herself