Feature

Jeremy Monteiro gives holiday classics a new swing

By Zaki JufriEvents - 16 December 2014 10:10 AM | Updated 12:48 PM

Jeremy Monteiro gives holiday classics a new swing

To Jeremy Monteiro, Christmas songs are perfect.

And the classic carols sung every December, most of which are composed more than a century ago, are so ahead of their time. 

“I have a newfound love for Christmas music,” the homegrown jazz artiste said. 

“They are all well-composed. Newer songs like ‘The Christmas Song’ by Mel Torme are so well-constructed and if you listen to ‘We, Three Kings’ or ‘O Holy Night’, the way their harmonies and melodies are written, they are way ahead of their time. So they really lend themselves well to jazz interpretation,” Monteiro explained. 

The 54-year-old Cultural Medallion winner has just released a new album, ‘Christmas in Our Hearts’, and it is his first Christmas album in more than 20 years. 

A TOUCH OF JAZZ 

“I will not wait 20 years to do the next one,” he quipped.

Christmas in Our Hearts’ is a 12-song collection of carols and hymns including ‘A Child is Born’, ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ – all given the jazz treatment.

It features prominent musicians including saxophonist Tony Lakatos, trumpeter Axel Schlosser, guitarist Wesley Gehring, harmonica-player Jens Bunge, and organist Alberto Marsico.

The album also features an original song, ‘Let’s Keep Christmas in Our Hearts’, which is sung by Singapore jazz singer Rani Singam. 

Monteiro said: “The song reflects the spiritual aspect of Christmas and to encourage people to keep this feeling in their hearts all year round.”

Jeremy Monteiro is going back to the studio to work on a Chinese New Year album after the 'Jazzy Christmas' concert | Photo: Varian Monteiro

The album is the culmination of what could be Monteiro’s most prolific year in music. “The volume of work I’ve done this year is equivalent to almost five years’ worth,” he noted.

He released ‘Jeremy Monteiro & Alberto Marsico Jazz-Blues Brothers’ in September and went on four European concert dates. After the Christmas festivities wind down, Monteiro is going back to the studio to work on a Chinese New Year album.

Despite it being a Christmas album, Monteiro hopes the album will appeal to everyone.

“Christmas means different things to different people. I want people to be able to enjoy it, to put the music on. Its function is really to be whatever people need it to be for their holiday enjoyment,” he said.

The jazz icon will also be holding the 10th edition of his popular Christmas concert, ‘A Jazzy Christmas’, at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Saturday 20 December, where he will also be playing songs from his new album.

‘MINI NATIONAL DAY PARADE’


Jeremy Monteiro Big Band performs 'We, Three Kings' at the 2009 Jazzy Christmas concert

This annual year-end holiday concert is a labour of love for Monteiro, spun from an idea first mooted more than 10 years ago by Esplanade’s chief executive Benson Puah. 

‘It’s like my mini National Day Parade. I have to come up with a new concept every year. Luckily, the album made it all easier. As most of the writing and composing were already done, I just had to adapt the music for a live setting,” Monteiro said.

He revealed that he is premiering a new song, ‘The Highest Land’ which he co-wrote with Rani.

So which Christmas classic is his personal favourite? 

“It has to be ‘Silent Night’. When I listen or play it, I feel that my whole consciousness is transported to the stable where Jesus was born. I feel like I’m a bystander, watching the birth of Christ.”

‘Christmas in Our Hearts’ is out in stores now


Zaki Jufri writes about the arts, entertainment, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture for inSing.com

 

A Jazzy Christmas: Let's Keep Christmas in Our Hearts  with Jeremy Monteiro and friends

A Jazzy Christmas: Let's Keep Christmas in Our Hearts with Jeremy Monteiro and friends

Date Dec 20, 2014

VenueConcert Hall, Esplanade - Theatres on The Bay

Ticket PriceS$30.00 - S$70.00
 (excludes booking fee)