Jeremy Monteiro of JASS Needs To Make Jazz a Mainstream Affair

Picture: Norhendra Ruslan

You might be one in every of Singapore’s most iconic jazz musicians. Inform us about your first steps as a musician.

I began studying Classical piano since I used to be six years previous in 1966. I began to get involved in jazz once I turned 14 in 1974. My dad was a Mobil oil government however he performed jazz guitar and had a fantastic number of jazz guitar data. He typically had jam classes along with his associates at dwelling and so in a way, he impressed me to turn out to be a jazz musician.

After my O ranges, I labored as a solo pianist and organist on the now defunct “Nation Membership” resort in East Coast Highway and in early 1975, I went for an audition to be a pianist at Membership 392. The proprietor, Mr AJ Isaac employed me as a pianist and bandleader. My musicians had been of their 30s and 40s on the time.

A author in Hong Kong as soon as described your fashion as “a mixture of Ravel and the Blues”. Would you agree with this assertion?

That’s truly fairly an correct description. I like the French Impressionistic harmonies together with that of Ravel. And I like the Blues. So someway how I synthesised that and got here up with a mode which additionally mixed some Bebop licks and even some Nation and Western stylistic touches.

When was the Jazz Affiliation (Singapore) (JASS) created, and may you share with us about its mission and what has been achieved to this point?

JASS was fashioned in 2016. We got down to assist elevate the extent of excellence in jazz in Singapore. We additionally intention to develop our viewers, work carefully in growing our youths by mentorship just like the “Lion Metropolis Youth Jazz Pageant”. The scholarship programme that we’ve allows these involved in pursuing jazz the means to kickstart their skilled research. Different actions that we’re collaborating in embody tasks with youngsters with public sale, Down’s syndrome and cultural diplomacy efforts. Our predominant orchestra JASSO has carried out within the US, China, the UK, Malaysia and Thailand.

Picture: JASS

Since Covid-19, we’ve continued our cultural diplomacy works by our on-line displays, which has seen our on-line exhibits attain a whole lot of 1000’s of views from everywhere in the world.

We added a brand new pillar to our work in 2020, the JASS Disaster Fund to assist jazz musicians in monetary misery by Covid-19 and past, with brief time period monetary assist.

What would be the highlights of the JASS Profit Gala Dinner on 31 July 2022?

We’re enthusiastic about our upcoming gala. We would be the first arts firm to carry a full-fledged in-person gala with a full large band because the easing of our Covid-19 measures.

Picture: Norhendra Ruslan

The theme of our gala is “Swing It!” and we’re wanting ahead to enjoying some swinging jazz requirements with the Jazz Affiliation Singapore Orchestra (JASSO) and our particular featured visitor artists Nathan Hartono and Joanna Dong.

Our gala night time will even be a triple celebration the place we rejoice Jeremy Monteiro’s forty fifth profession anniversary, the 121st birthday of jazz legend and father of recent jazz, Loui Armstrong and JASS’ upcoming sixth anniversary.

This 12 months’s gala might be an evening to recollect.

What are the primary avenues of labor for JASS within the coming 5 years?

One of many predominant points of our artmaking work might be growing an amalgamation of the devices and music of our Asian heritage with jazz to attempt to create a really distinctive fashion of music.

After all we are going to proceed our work in selling jazz as one of many mainstream genres, however we’re enthusiastic about this new offshoot.

On the group work entrance, we intend to do our “Jazz for Youngsters” and “Jazz for Seniors” programmes and to succeed in out to the communities and convey jazz to the neighbourhoods as properly.

We additionally wish to make jazz accessible and inclusive and can proceed our partnership with ART:DIS (beforehand referred to as Very Particular Arts).

From youngsters to seniors, is it simple in Singapore to seek out appropriate jazz lessons or a jazz academy?

At the moment, jazz is an elective topic for the O Ranges and I discover that jazz can also be been infused into the final syllabus for major and secondary colleges. One may research for a level in jazz research at LASALLE Faculty of the Arts.

There are additionally many music lecturers who educate jazz privately for these to learn to play it privately.

JASS as we’re identified by our acronym additionally conducts jazz appreciation talks for the general public in addition to skilled talks like our “Jazz improvisation for Classical Musicians” to assist demystify jazz for classical musicians.

How are you reaching to new audiences? What’s at present being executed to get the youthful era to understand jazz?

Even earlier than JASS was fashioned, it was wonderful to see younger musicians of their teenagers develop an curiosity in straightahead jazz and attain very spectacular ranges.

Each the Singapore Polytechnic and the Nationwide College Jazz golf equipment have turn out to be a hotbed of jazz exercise and a number of the youthful ones from a number of years in the past have now turn out to be severe skilled stage jazz musicians. Considered one of them is Sean Hong Wei, who we first had within the youth orchestra when he was 17. Now at 23, he performs because the lead alto participant in each the primary and youth orchestras in JASSO and JASSYO!

One other chief of the youth jazz motion is Aaron James Lee, one in every of our present JASS students learning in the direction of a jazz diploma at LASALLE and is already one of many prime name jazz drummers in Singapore.

What are your favorite locations to hearken to Jazz in Singapore?

Picture: Norhendra Ruslan

At the moment, there are two predominant jazz golf equipment in Singapore however reside music has not been allowed for greater than two years already due to the pandemic. One is Maduro on Dempsey Hill, and the opposite is Merely Jazz, a jazz membership I opened at CHIJMES in November 2021 with the Tinbox Group. Earlier than Covid-19, there have been additionally different golf equipment like Blu Jazz that was a favorite for the youth musicians.

Inform us extra about this thrilling collab you lately participated in, “re:Sound Collective”?

The collaboration that I did with re:Sound Collective was certainly a particular one for me. In 1991, I received a Silver Medal for Finest Music Rating on the Worldwide Radio Pageant of New York. After that, I moved away from writing giant ensemble works to focus on being a jazz pianist.

Within the final 10 years, I’ve been listening to the siren name to return to writing giant ensemble music so about two years in the past, I made a decision to begin writing symphonic jazz works once more and assist in catalysing the Symphonic Jazz motion in Singapore.

The live performance with re:Sound Collective gave me a possibility to put in writing and carry out my orchestral works. I had been writing these compositions for the previous two years so it was fantastic to see it come to life with the magnificent re:Sound Collective orchestra.

You’ve additionally been busy with the opening of Merely Jazz at Chijmes in 2021. What’s the idea behind the membership and why has it turn out to be the go-to place for jazz lovers?

Merely Jazz has one of the best of each worlds — a fantastic chef with a menu that will excite the well-travelled Singapore palette in addition to a very thrilling jazz ambiance. With a reside jazz band enjoying nearly each night time, Merely Jazz has turn out to be one of many go-to locations for jazz in Singapore.

When you had been to call one particular person or musician who has influenced you significantly in your love of Jazz, who would that be?

I’m afraid it’s not one particular person however three. One is my mentor and godfather of Singapore jazz Louis Soliano, who stays energetic at 79; the two-time Grammy award-winning saxophonist Ernie Watts with whom I’ve been making music with since 1987 with greater than 100 exhibits since then. I’ve additionally written greater than 10 items with Ernie which have appeared on each his albums and mine.

Lastly, the late nice Grammy award-winning bassist Eldee Younger was my finest good friend and I had a bunch with him along with Grammy profitable drummer Redd Holt from 1986 till 2007 when Eldee handed away. Collectively as “Monteiro, Younger and Holt”, we performed on the primary stage of the Montreux Jazz Pageant, which the late founder Claude Nobs referred to as one of many nice concert events within the first 22 years of Montreux.

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