FOR JAZZ man Jeremy Monteiro, it’s been a musical adventure through highs and lows.
In his most prolific period to date, Monteiro has been performing, teaching and coaching like a little jazz whirlwind. Having seen the various phases of the art form through their cycles of creativity and inertia, we talk to him about jazz in Singapore and the upcoming The Lion City Youth Jazz Festival that he is orchestrating with the Jazz Association (Singapore).
What’s the state of jazz in Singapore?
MONTEIRO: It’s cyclical. It’s coming off a low after a few jazz clubs closed late last year like the Singapore Jazz Club at the Sultan Hotel. But it’s doing better.
In terms of musicians and participation it has continued to grow. Many new jazz combos and big bands like the ITE Jazz Band and Singapore Poly Jazz Band yielded some good musicians; I got them to join the Jazz Association of Singapore Youth Orchestra (JassYo!)
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Are youth interested in jazz?
MONTEIRO: In terms of participation, they are interested. However, there is still a need to grow the audience.
Are today’s youth more difficult to teach given their preference for devices?
MONTEIRO: The ones who are truly passionate about art, music and sports know how to concentrate at rehearsals and performances. It’s very refreshing to see this.
Will jazz join the disruptor fraternity?
MONTEIRO: Disruption is overrated. Spotify and Uber have more than a billion in investment but still can’t really make money. So who are they disrupting?
Jazz is there to challenge, soothe and evoke emotions, like all good music.
What can be done to raise the appreciation of jazz in society?
MONTEIRO: Our Patron Prof Tommy Koh gave the board of JASS two ambitions that he world like to see come through. One is to help make Singapore a beacon of Jazz in the region. Two, to make sure Jazz is enjoyed across the island by people from all walks of life.
We are doing that by sending both JassYO! and the main orchestra out to play in the neighborhoods, community clubs, libraries and schools playing repertoire that will appeal to the people who listen to the music in these areas.
For example, we may perform jazz tributes to the music of P. Ramlee on the one hand and new commissions and Gershwin and Bernstein on the other.
Are there enough concerts being held since thats an important way for artists to get noticed and for artists to showcase their craft?
MONTEIRO: There is really a lot happening in Singapore and people are spoilt for choice. But I think that more can be done outside the city centre and we hope to perform in every part of the island.