Interview: Jeremy jazzes up INK

Movies - 22 January 2010 5:30 PM | Updated 16 September 2010

Interview: Jeremy jazzes up INK

Singapore jazz fans rejoice!

Celebrated Singaporean jazz pianist Jeremy Monteiro has taken up residency at the INK Club Bar, at Fairmont Singapore. He and his friends will be playing there most nights, serving up an eclectic mix of jazz classics, Latin jazz and some originals.

And whatever Jeremy might say, this residency is in no way a signal that the great man is slowing down as he approaches 50. Indeed his list of upcoming projects should entitle him to the title of Hardest Working Man in Singapore Showbiz. caught up with Jeremy on opening night at INK to find out more.

1. Can you give us the details of your residency at INK?

There is music six nights a week at INK. We came up with an existing program. I will be playing there on Tuesdays with my Organ Trio (Andrew Lim on guitar and Soh Wen Ming on drums), Wednesdays through Saturdays (four nights a week) with my Piano Trio (with Brian Benson on bass and Tamagoh on drums).

On Monday nights, Andrew Lim plays guitar in a Guitar Trio setting with Tamagoh on drums and Brian Benson on bass. On Sundays, we all take a well-deserved rest!

We start from 9pm until midnight Mondays through Thursdays and 9.30pm through 12.30am on Friday and Saturday nights. 

2. What can we expect from your residency?

We will play straight-up jazz, some standards, some latin-jazz favourites (both from the Brazilian and Afro-Cuban traditions). We’ll also be playing a good dose of originals. 

3. Can we expect the occasional appearance of guest musicians, both local and international, at your set at INK?

That will be the next phase and I will be discussing this in the coming weeks with the hotel management. Making this change and repositioning INK as a jazz venue is a big thing and I think it is good to take this in stages. 

5. Do Singaporeans know their jazz? Do you think it is an increasingly popular music genre here?

I think that the jazz crowd in Singapore has grown fivefold in the last 10 years. I consistently fill up the Esplanade Concert Hall and at the last Jazzy Christmas Concert, we did about 90% ticket sales. Together with Bangkok and Jakarta, Singapore is one of the cities in South East Asia where there are many good jazz musicians and places to enjoy it. 

6. Last year you travelled quite a bit, including to Edinburgh. Why have you decided now to take up full-time residency at a local venue?

I have travelled an average of four to six months in a year since 1995. I wanted to cut it down to two months, all told. This has allowed me to take on a residency. I will be at INK 85% of the time and once I run it in, in a month or so, I will go back to doing the special shows, and short tours overseas.

That's the beauty of being a jazz musician. I can go from a 7,000-seat arenas (like the Indoor Stadium in Shanghai where I played with the Asian Jazz-AllStars) to smaller concert halls, to intimate jazz clubs. I seem to have a different audience, with some overlap, of course, between the audiences who come to my concerts and those who come to see me play in a bar.

7. Do you have any other projects / plans lined up?

I have so many plans. I never stop working and coming up with new shows and recording projects.

At the moment I am also working on gathering investment for the Monteiro Music School (which already has endorsement to be a London College of Music teaching and examination centre). The school will teach jazz at pre-tertiary level from Grade 1 up to Fellowship Diploma. I hope it will be operational by the third quarter, fingers crossed.

I am also working on a big charity fundraiser called Swinging In Singapore, which will be a gala dinner concert in aid of the Community Chest of Singapore. This will be in celebration of my 50th birthday.

I did something similar a few years ago in an event to honour President SR Nathan for his first term in office and raised $1.3 million for the Community Chest. My colleagues on the committee hope to at least reach that amount for the upcoming show on 30 July.

Then there is a 20th Anniversary re-issue of my Montreux Jazz Festival CD (with free DVD of the concert) and many other gigs and concerts planned here, in Europe and in the region.

8. Wow, not a minute’s rest!

Well, I do want to slow down slightly as I approach 50, but only in terms of the number of things I do – reducing the quantity of projects but looking at increasing the quality of the projects I do embark on.

Having said that, I will still be playing at least 200 gigs a year at INK!