By  on October 10, 2007

"Live! From Montreux," a deluxe, 1,583-page look back at the 41-year-old music festival, will try to grab shoppers with a shock effect: A crimson pair of plastic hands will serve as bookends for the $800, four-volume set written by Claude Nobs, the Montreux Jazz Festival's founder.

"It's about applause — the feeling of being in the audience, excited about the bands," said Marc Balet, designer of the bookends that will hold the special edition set of 5,000 and designer of its pages and cover art, which are being printed in Milan and published by London-based A Publishing Co. Ltd. for distribution in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, beginning Nov. 5.

One finger of the right hand in each of the bookends bears a plastic ring in the form of a flower with white-and-red petals and brown pistils, a floral motif repeated inside the large, sans serif, block cover type splashed across the four volumes. (The palm sides of the right hands are accented by ring bands.)

"The flower idea came from Montreux itself; it is bucolic and beautiful, right on the [eastern shore of] Lake Geneva," Balet explained. Flowers were also used to "soften up the idea of the intensity" of the festival environment, he said, balancing the languid sense of the locale with the energized performances portrayed in "Live!"

Originally envisioned as a one-volume chronicle timed to coincide with the festival's 40th anniversary, the expansion of "Live! From Montreux" into the four-volume set is not unlike the growth of the event itself — from a three-day, $8,000 gathering to a three-week, $16 million extravaganza. Tracking down 20 or so photographers who have worked Montreux, including Daryl Pitt, Giuseppe Pino and Jean-Pierre Leloir; collecting about 20,000 of their photographs, and selecting the 1,800 images being published on the edition's Japanese matte art paper lengthened the time line.

In the four-volume set, Nobs divides the tale of the music event he directs into 10-year stretches, which are accented by the appearance of the type-and-flower design in four color combinations: pink, orange and rust; blue, silver and white; acid green, red and yellow, and green, blue and teal. "Each page revives some kind of souvenir," Nobs said. "It's like I was lying on a couch, talking to an analyst."Balet made five trips to Montreux during the past three years while he worked on the special edition, completing designs for books about Lenny Kravitz and Ahmet Ertegün in between. "There's a wild mix of people in Montreux," he recalled. "You get very rich people who are interested in music, and thousands of kids. [Muammar el] Qaddafi's son was there. Quincy Jones gave a workshop at this year's festival [in July]. Wynton Marsalis drew an older, more conservative crowd. Erykah Badu, with a big headdress, threw herself into the audience."

The special edition's portraits, edited by publisher and co-author Perry Richardson, run from Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles to James Brown, Neil Young and Sting. There are shots beyond the trappings of performance, including John Lewis playing tennis, Charlie Mingus on a motorbike and David Bowie skiing. "There are pictures of B.B. King in his 50s and then later, in his 80s," Richardson noted in speaking of the project's scope.

"Live! From Montreux" will be available at select bookstores and art galleries. Sponsors of the annual music gatherings in Montreux, such as Parmigiani Watches, Nestlé and Marlboro, and in Cannes, site of the music industry's Midem convention, will receive about 250 copies of the set to sell to clients and to give to musicians.

As part of its first-time, main sponsorship of the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 2008, Parmigiani Fleurier will hold Parmigiani Workshops, giving the public and musicians a venue in which to meet, in a play to link the 20-year-old luxury watch brand with the authenticity of the musicians' performances. In a partnership during the last few days of the Montreux festival this July, Parmigiani sold Nobs about 10 Steel Kalpa XL watches, at $7,800 apiece, which he in turn gave to some of the festival artists, including Seal, George Benson, Van Morrison and Jeff Beck, noted Michelle Veyna, president of the U.S. market for Parmigiani Fleurier.

Each of the 5,000 sets of "Live!" will be numbered and signed by Nobs, who was immortalized in Deep Purple's rock classic, "Smoke on the Water," as Funky Claude. The reference is a nod to one of Nobs' most memorable Montreux festival moments: his rescue of several people in the Casino Montreux in 1971 after it caught fire during a Frank Zappa concert and burned down. Nobs recalled "cooking for Deep Purple every night because they were staying next door" to his Montreux home. At the time, the group was looking for a place to record a performance that was originally scheduled to go on after Zappa's, at the casino. "They said they just did it for me," Nobs said of "Smoke on the Water." "They weren't going to put it on the album ['Machine Head']. I said they should put it on the album. It was their biggest hit of all time."

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