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Live Reviews

Jeremy Monteiro Big Band: Grand Ballroom, Ritz Carlton, Singapore

By Published: August 14, 2010
Watts played with the Buddy Rich orchestra in the late '60s and all the years of honing his craft showed on the melodic "Orchard Road" with Watts taking extended solos notable for their musicality and sheer vitality. These solos were punctuated by the impressive tabla playing of Noor and strong, full-ensemble support. Watts really stretched himself on "The Bubala Dance" which was lent added depth and power by the Scott Routenberg arrangement. Monteiro, inspired by his long-time sparring partner's presence put in his most impassioned solo of the evening, which Watts returned and then some. A highlight of the performance—and of the entire evening—was when Watts went toe-to-toe with drummer Goh, trading torrents of notes in a high-octane duel which earned a great ovation. When Watts is on this sort of form—and when is he not?—he is scary.

Ernie Watts

Other memorable performances were the Monterio originals "Brothers" which featured a fine flugel horn solo from the multi-talented Canadian, Gabriel Mark Hasselbach and "Soliloquy "which threw Philippine master saxophonist Tots Tolentino into the spotlight where he served up a tasteful, imaginative solo on soprano. The only criticism that could be leveled at an otherwise excellent evening was that the soloists sometimes suffered from lack of volume, and this was most notable when Hasselbach turned to the softer flute, though his delivery was flawless.

The set closed appropriately with the Monteiro/Jim Aitchison composition "One People, One Nation, One Singapore," an elegiac number which gained in potency as it developed. Tolentino and trumpeter Steve Cannon impressed, as too did Monteiro who played some lovely, dancing blues figures and put the final touch to a memorable evening. At the end of the performance compere Susan Ng announced that the fund-raising efforts inspired by Monteiro and generously supported by the Singapore business community and His Excellency had succeeded in raising over $1,000,000 for Community Chest. Monteiro's musical contribution to Singapore is already immense but his fund-raising efforts in support of charitable causes are of great significance too. That jazz is in some way a catalyst for the betterment of people's lives should be something of which Monteiro, his big-band and jazz lovers everywhere can be rightly proud.

Photo Credit

Peter Phua, courtesy of Showtime Productions Pte Ltd

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