What better way to announce the coming of a new music festival than to throw a free concert?
Last Friday, more than 1,000 jazz fans were treated to a free performance by British acid jazz and funk band Incognito at the Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre.
Led by charismatic frontman Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick, Incognito performed a short but rousing set of some of their greatest hits including ‘Parisienne Girl’, ‘Always There’, ‘Still A Friend Of Mine’ and ‘Morning Sun’.
The band is one of the big names that are headlining the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival or Sing Jazz for short.
‘Strasbourg Saint Denis’ – Roy Hargrove Quintet
“I am definitely waiting for the event with bated breath,” said advertising account executive and jazz fan Jasmine Teow. “I think its high time Singapore has its own jazz festival. As far as the line-up is concerned, I’m very excited about catching Roy Hargrove as I’ve seen him perform previously at Java Jazz Festival.”
Held at the Marina Bay Sands -- held at various locations including the Grand Theatre, its outdoor Event Plaza as well as a number of satellite stages – from 27 February to 2 March, the festival will feature 18 artistes who span the jazz genre including big names Natalie Cole, India Arie, British pop-jazz artiste Jamie Cullum, American funk and soul band The Earth Wind & Fire Experience, American Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove and Australian jazz trumpeter James Morrison.
Callum, 34, better known as the “Prince of Pop Jazz” will open the festival with a gala concert on 27 February with his take on classic jazz standards.
‘Don’t Stop The Music’ - Jamie Cullum
Since the launch of his career in 1999, Cullum has established his reputation as the most popular jazz musician of his era and became the highest selling UK jazz artist of all time in 2003.
Callum will be keeping stellar company with nine-time Grammy winner Natalie Cole (‘Unforgettable’, ‘Inseparable’ ‘Unforgettable’) headlining on 28 February.
‘Just Do You’ – India.Arie
On 1 March nu-soul singer-songwriter India.Arie takes the centerstage. Since her debut in 2001, Arie has been nominated for 21 Grammys – and won four – while selling 10 million albums worldwide. Her latest, ‘Songversation’ was recently released after a four-year hiatus.
Alemay Fernandez performing at Sultan Jazz Club. Photo: Sultan Jazz Club
And what’s a Singapore jazz festival without jazz, Singapore-style? Our very own “King of Swing” Jeremy Monteiro as well as jazz singers Melissa Tham and Alemay Fernandez scheduled to perform.
Indisputably one of Singapore’s most renowned jazz musicians, Cultural Medallion winner Jeremy Monteiro has released over 20 albums over a career that spans three decades where he’s performed for royalty and luminaries such as US President Barack Obama.
A familiar face in music and theatre circles, Alemay Fernandez is a regular at Blu Jaz Café, Sultan Jazz Club and the former Southbridge Jazz. She has performed with The Count Basie Orchestra, David Foster and has performed Kevin Spacey, Ethan Hawke, Joss Stone, Lea Salonga
“I'm extremely excited to be part of this first-ever festival. The opportunity for local musicians to get to share the stage and perform together with international musicians on a main stage doesn't happen as often as it should so this is a real treat,” Fernandez said.
Like festival supporter and Indonesian counterpart Java Jazz Festival, music fans can also look forward to post-festival jamming sessions where they can catch their favourite artistes perform impromptu sets with anyone who plays an instrument.
Jakarta’s Java Jazz Festival jamming sessions are a popular open secret with everyone from the late George Duke, singer Stevie Wonder, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, jazz guitarist George Benson and even Singapore singer Alemay Fernandez who’ve jammed at these sessions.
“The community of jazz-lovers here has been growing steadily over recent years. Our aim is to establish the festival as Singapore’s definitive platform for the exposition of jazz in all its forms,” said David Lyndon Smith, artistic director of Orbis Festival Productions, which organises the festival.
Incognito at the premiere of Singapore International Jazz Festival on 29 November
Fernandez agrees with Smith. She thinks that this festival will give the jazz music scene here a much-needed boost.
“Majority of the jazz fans only come out of the woodwork to attend concerts of internationally acclaimed artistes, which has meant fewer and fewer local jazz clubs are able to survive. And without a solid supportive audience, the scene cannot thrive,” Fernandez explained.
“Once people get a chance to watch all the local artistes that are involved in the festival and realise how much talent there is here, I'm sure they'll want to support the local jazz scene more enthusiastically than they have been,” she added.
Sing Jazz will also host clinics led by festival artistes and facilitate an exchange of local talent with its counterpart festival, Java Jazz. It will also pledge $1 from each commercial ticket sale towards the Foundation of Arts & Social Enterprise’s on-going training and grooming of our cadre of up-and-coming jazz musicians.
Singapore International Jazz Festival | Date: 27 Feb-2 Mar | Time: From 6.30pm | Venue: Various venues at Marina Bay Sands | Address: 1 Bayfront Ave. | Tickets: $70-280 (early bird, through 1 Jan 2014); $88-280 (advanced, 2 Jan-27 Feb); $106-280 (gate sales)