In a career spanning thirty years, Singaporean pianist Jeremy Monteiro has done it all. He's played with everyone from Michael Brecker to Charlie Haden, from James Moody to Toots Thielemans and from Cassandra Wilson to Simon and Garfunkel. He has performed all over the world and his performance at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival alongside bassist Eldee Young and drummer Red Holt was described by festival director Claude Nobbs as, "an unforgettable set which will remain a classic concert of the first twenty-two years of Montreux.
His phenomenal piano playing aside, Monteiro has directed his energies in a surprisingly wide arc, which encompasses directing Singapore's Jazz Festival in 2001 and the inaugural Jazznote Festival in Singapore in 2007. Down the years he has received as many awards as Imelda Marcos had shoes, was bestowed with the Cultural Medallion of Singapore in 2002 and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts in the UK in 2006. He also belongs to a select group of awardees which includes Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Mohammad Ali; although, unlike Monteiro, none of these illustrious names has appeared in Hawaii Five-O.
AAJ met up with Monteiro in Bangkok where he comes out of the closet, musically speaking, and talks about his latest album, Homecoming (Jazznote, 2006). He also talks about his new role as Professor and Visiting Chair of Jazz at La Salle-SIA College of the Arts, reflects on the state of jazz in Southeast Asia, and recalls flying barstools and surreal award ceremonies. Bassist Eldee Young joins the fray in his inimitable style.
All About Jazz: Jeremy, according to my MP3 player you have a maximum of four hours and fifty three minutes in which to state your case, otherwise we'll have to call the whole thing off.
JM: As Dizzy Gillespie said; "If you can't say it in three choruses you ain't got nothin' to say. [laughs]
AAJ: This year saw the release of Homecoming (Jazznote, 2006) which I believe I'm right in saying is your twentieth release?
JM: Actually it's more than twenty. I haven't sat down and counted them, but twenty is not a lie. [laughs]
AAJ: That figure is something of a milestone; do you look back on your catalogue with great pride?
JM: Yes I do. Some of the stuff I've done for Indonesian label Sangaji Music, I've done one or two records that I'm really proud of, one or two that I'm not so proud of but then they sold thirty thousand copies so you know, how can I not be happy with that? Then I've done one or two that I wish I never have to hear again. [laughs]
AAJ: One that jumped out at me from your discography as odd was Songs for You, Karen (First Impression Music, 2003) which is a tribute to the music of The Carpenters. Did someone say, "Hey, do this, it will sell, or did you want to do it?
JM: I wanted to do that. You know, I'm a big Carpenters fan and I was afraid to admit it until I found out that Pat Metheny loves the Carpenters as well. So if he came out of the closet with that then I will. [laughs]
AAJ: Eldee, are you going to come out of the closet as well and say you're a Carpenters fan?
Eldee Young: I'm Muddy waters all the way, Muddy Waters all the way!
JM: As a kid and now, I do love all kinds of music, and although my mode of expression is as a jazz musician there's stuff I want to listen to that I would never want to play. But The Carpenters? When I was fourteen or fifteen I loved the music, the harmonies and I loved the sound of Karen Carpenter's voice. I still think it's one of the nicest voices ever.
So at about seventeen or eighteen years old I thought wouldn't it be nice for me to be able to do a sort of jazz treatment of the Carpenters' hits, which I did do, although the record company toned me down a bit with how jazzy I wanted to make it. So it's not the ideal Carpenters jazz tribute but it's something that I worked really hard on and I was so surprised when Soundstage magazine voted it as one of the three best-sounding high resolution recordings of the particular year, in addition to Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. (Columbia, 1965) You never start off thinking it will end up as one of the best sounding recordings in North America in 2003how did that happen? [laughs]
AAJ: Homecoming is your first album of all originals for many years, is that right?
JM: Technically speaking it is my only album of all originals because although I set out to do an album of all originals with Charlie Haden, Ernie Watts and Al Foster in 1989, Always in Love (JJ Jazz Label, 1989) we decided at the last moment to jam on a lesser-known Charlie Parker tune segment and included it on the record. So therefore the record doesn't qualify as an all original album, even though really that's a bonus track.
AAJ: Was Homecoming intended from the get go as an album of all originals?
JM: Yes it was. The reason for that is that very often you do records when they are commissioned by record companies and they always want you to do the standards, which is fine but it's also a bit sad. You know, jazz has got to be a combination of consolidation and expansion and I think there's too much consolidation happening in jazz. Artists should continue to push the boundaries the same way Charlie Parker pushed the boundaries, the way Dizzy Gillespie pushed the boundaries.
The reason I was able to do it this time without worrying what people thought was firstly I was doing it for my own label and secondly the project was financed by the Arts Council of Singapore and so I could do what I wanted. I really enjoyed working on it and I'm really happy with the results.
AAJ: Do you think albums of originals are the way forward for Jeremy Monteiro as a jazz musician?
JM: Consolidation and expansion. Consolidation echoing and reflecting the great standards and expansion with originals.
AAJ: What do you think about, for want of a better term the "new standards Herbie Hancock recording Simon and Garfunkel, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder,[The New Standard (Verve,1996)] and Brad Mehldau recording Lennon and McCartney, Radiohead, Nick Drake, and so on?
JM: Absolutely. You have to remember that all the standards that Bill Evans or Oscar Peterson or Cannonball Adderley, or any of those guys played were the pop songs of their day. I think not enough people do it. I haven't done it and I should, actually take the pop songs of today and do what Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans did with the pop songs of their time. I'm going to do that more.
AAJ: Can you tell us about the musicians on your new album?
JM: Well, the rhythm section is really my working group that I've been working with most the last six yearsShawn Kelley on drums and Belinda Moody on bass. After playing together for so long we have a real good understanding, a near telepathic communication between us. And also [saxophonist] Ernie Watts, I've been making music with him since 1987. Greg Fishman who I've been working with about eight years plays flute and saxophone and there's a percussionist from Singapore called Mohamed Noor.
AAJ: On the album there is a beautiful tribute to Ray Charles, "Blues for Ray. How much of an influence was he on you?
JM: I think the thing I go for a lot is the texture of someone's sound, whether it be an instrument or a voice, and the sound of Ray Charles' voice really got to me. It's so unique. I love his country stuff. He's one of the few people I can listen to doing country stuff. And he did Porgy and Bess (Rhino, 1976) with Cleo Laine. That recording isn't available any more. If you see it just buy it for me! Just unbelievable arrangements and great playing.
He passed away when we were in L.A. recording. We were in the studio watching the news in the control room, and we just went into the studio and came out with this tune. It was a moment full of poignancy.
AAJ: You and Eldee will forever be united and remembered for your performance at Montreux in 1988 which Claude Nobbs described as one of the greatest performances in the first twenty years of the festival. How did you get that gig and what are your memories of it?
JM: I was playing in the Saxophone Club in Singapore in '85 and Claude Nobbs met up with a guy by the name of Fabrice de Barsy from Belgium who owned the club, and he came and heard us play and we talked and then later I recorded in '86 with Eldee... [phone rings] I just mention Fabrice and he calls! Isn't that amazing? [fields the call] Fabrice, I'm doing an interview, I'll call you later. [laughs] I mean what are the chances of that?
AAJ: I'm beginning to believe in coincidences.
JM: Synchronicity. There's no such thing as coincidence. Anyway, Fabrice introduced us to Claude and I gave him a set of my band Jeramzee's album, Faces and Places (Jazznote, 1988) which had Eldee Young and Red Holt and he heard it and said, Wow! Eldee Young and Red Holt! Why don't you come to Montreux with them? He had had them in Montreux in '68 so we went and I also invited [saxophonist] John Stubblefield and O'Donel Levy, a great guitarist from Baltimore.
So we went and did the show and it was just amazing. The audience was great, the sound was great. Ten cameras were shooting for the BBC and it was broadcast all over Europe live and later it was shown in America and Australia. So it was really good for my career, you know at least I wasn't a stranger any more in many places and it also reminded people about Eldee and Red who had such a great earlier career with (pianist) Ramsey Lewis. So it was a great promotion for all of us and a wonderful time.
Then we released the album Monteiro, Young and HoltLive in Montreux (JJ Jazz Records, 1989) and although the album didn't do so well sales-wise it was a great calling card. Whenever you sent it to potential gigs, you know, Monteiro, Young and HoltLive in Montreux, how could you get a better calling card than that?
AAJ And Eldee, for you it must have been big nostalgia returning to Montreux after twenty years?
EY: It was a really big deal for me to go back with this particular team, with Jeremy, and Stubblefield and O'Donel Levy and Red. It was really a crazy night. We found an energy that I didn't know existed. We came on early in the morning and there were people laying on the floor sleeping. We jumped on it and all of a sudden they woke up and went crazy. They started dancing. I loved it! I thought I'd leave my bass down and jump into the audience the way they do at rock concerts. [laughs] They probably would have let me hit the floor! [laughs] It was like, and I use an old phrase, "a happening. You really had to be there to see the energy that was going back and forth between the audience and us.
JM: What was funny was that after I finished I just couldn't believe I'd even been there. Eldee and Red had breakfast before the next show which was Mongo Santamaria, and they were getting hugged and kissed and congratulated, and I just went to be by myself somewhere. I sat down and thought "Did that just happen? I kept pinching myself. I was in a daze. It was very surreal and still is very surreal for me.
AAJ: Claude Nobbs is a living legend. What can you tell us about him?
JM: Claude has obviously done so much for the music. He does the work of more than one person. He's done an amazing job with the Montreux Festival although in recent years I didn't care so much for the way he kept infusing more pop music into the festival, to the point where you could almost not call it a jazz festival anymore.
George Wein, who was around even before Claude, about two years ago for the Fiftieth Newport Jazz Festival, he decided to do a pure jazz festival. And when I say pure jazz you know jazz is not a pure music, so Latin jazz, funk jazz, blues, fusion, straight-ahead, everything, but all jazz. And he said that having done that he actually had the most attendance and most revenue of all the fifty years, so he realized that he had done all that other stuff for no real reason.
So if Claude wants to do a music festival and then a separate jazz festival and let them run concurrently that would be great, but let the jazz festival really be a jazz festival. But he does so much. He's easy to criticize but really there is so much to be admired about the work of Claude Nobbs, and he's still doing it.
EY: I really consider George Wein and Claude Nobbs as visionaries as far as the music is concerned, dealing with the concerts. Norman Granz is one of the early guys whom really saw the potential of jazz festivals. His shows that he took around, Jazz at the Philharmonic were like touring festivals and it was great. And one thing led to another and now jazz festivals are all over the world.
These festivals got their concept from these guys, the Claude Nobbs, from the George Weins. And needless to say Claude Nobbs is a real character, though I don't think you can operate something as big as Montreux without making enemies or stepping on somebody's toes you maybe shouldn't step on.
AAJ: This year is the twentieth anniversary of Monteiro, Young and Holt. Do you have any plans to mark the milestone?
JM: We wanted to do a celebration concert but Red Holt doesn't feel comfortable leaving the US anymore. That's just the space he's in and you have to respect that. The group is in hiatus now for sure. I'm here, Eldee comes here often enough but Red doesn't come here at all so I guess the next time we do something will be in the States
AAJ: When you were growing up did the potpourri that is Singapore culture influence you musically?
JM: I think I had a unique experience because my dad, although he was a policeman, he used to moonlight as a Hawaiian guitarist and as a jazz guitarist, playing stuff like Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis so that music was around my house all the time. And he had records of Joe Pass with Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown without drums, and Jimmy Smith.
He played country music too, Floyd Kramer, so all these sounds were around me from a very young age. I was learning classical piano at a young age and once I got good enough he would ask me to jam with him. I guess by the time I was fourteen years old I wanted to be a jazz pianist.
AAJ: Who were your major piano influences?
JM: I guess my favorite piano players have got to be Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and now Brad MehldauI think the most amazing guy out there is Brad Mehldau because he is able to break all the barriers down between jazz and classical. It's just music. It's just great music. There are jazz elements, there are classical elements, when he swings he swings his butt off. He plays the blues and then he's got all this Schoenberg, Rachmaninoff, Ravel stuff there and it's just great music. And the two-handed approach, being so independent like that.
Another pianist I really loved was Michel Petrucciani who died too young, and the country player Floyd Kramerso many influences over the years. I've always felt I was lucky, I got to listen to who I needed to listen to and I got to hang out with who I needed to hang out with, and get good advice from who I needed to get advice from at the right time for my personal growth as a musician and as a person.
AAJ: Ahmad Jamal played here in Bangkok last night. Was he an influence at all?
JM: To be honest, I love Ahmad Jamal. There's no one who delivers a melody on a piano like Ahmad Jamal.
EY: He opened up some doors. The guy, he was serious! And that combination he had back then with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier! They'd sit together like beans and corn-bread, just a perfect match! Ahmad would take his hands off the piano and the music kept going on and on between the bassist, who was rhythmic and melodic at the same time, and the drummer.
About Brad Mehldau, the way you were describing him, it just came to mind that that is really part of a legacy left here from the Duke Ellington days. Duke Ellington didn't want to be known as just a jazz musician, he just wanted music. You don't come to my house for just bread and soup, you come to my house and you're going to get a full meal! And that's what Duke was doing, he was doing music and that's what his concept was. When you heard a Duke concert it was just amazing how many types of things he put together and he wanted you to come to hear his music. Not jazz, just come to hear his music.
AAJ: Duke Ellington was very special.
EY: There's a joke. The Pope has died and he gets to heaven, Gabriel was there and said, "Oh, we are so excited about having you here! Come on, I want to show you where you're going to live. He took him in and says, "Here's where you're going to live. And it was a beautiful mansion! And the Pope says, "Oh, that's gorgeous! And he was getting ready to walk in the door when he looked across and he saw a place that was twice as big, twice as beautiful, huge, with birds flying around it singing. So the Pope says, "I don't mean to be ungrateful, but I'm a Pope, who did you give that house to? And Gabriel said, "Oh, that mansion? That's Duke Ellington's. And the Pope says, "Wait a minute! I'm a Pope, Duke Ellington's a musician! And Gabriel said, "We have many Popes here, but there's only one Duke Ellington! [laughs]
AAJ: Jeremy, how did you take your first professional steps?
JM: It was really lucky. My mum is a nurse, and at that time she was a private nurse and she had gone to nurse a Jewish guy who had just had some serious surgery. They got to talking and she told him that I was a jazz pianist and he owned a jazz club. He said when he was better to send me down for an audition.
So I had the audition, I was seventeen years old, and he not only gave me the gig as a pianist but as the band leader as well which was not very easy for me because the guys in the band were in their thirties or forties and taking orders from a seventeen year old kid.
The music was fine and I was learning a lot from them, but I had a bassist who would always come late to work and I said, "You need to come to work on time. He got really angry with me and one time he went behind the club and he wanted to beat me up for telling him what to do. Thank goodness my guitarist saw it and came running and saved me from being beaten up.
Then one day there was a big fight at the club with the Maori soldiers from New Zealand who used to come to the club. So one of these guys picked up a stool and threw it at the guy he was fighting with. The guy ducked and the stool was coming straight at the stage and I ducked and the bassist was behind me and the stool went straight into him! [laughs]
Then I got to play with Rahim Hamid who sounded and looked a lot like Nat King Cole and it was amazing because he sang the whole Nat King Cole songbook. I also got to be in the background of an episode of Hawaii Five-O when they shot an episode in that club. We were just playing and they shot Jack Lord having a drink, talking to the bartender. It was interesting.
AAJ: You also worked as a session musician, didn't you?
JM: Yes, I played on over three hundred pop records until I stopped doing it in the mid-nineties.
AAJ: And you had a parallel career writing jingles.
JM: I started about '81 or '82 and that was what fed my jazz habit for many years. I did very well from jingles from '81 to '91. I paid my taxes so I'm not afraid to admit I grossed over $7 million. But that's over with now, because that was when we still used live musicians. Now everyone has a mini set-up in their bedroom so it'll never happen again. I think I was the last of its kind in Singapore. We became dinosaurs, you know, using real people! [laughs]
AAJ: Is it easier or harder for young jazz musicians in Singapore to get gigs and make a living compared to when you were starting out?
JM: Right now many corporate people like to have jazz at corporate functions and that's happening a lot. So as far as casuals go there's a lot of casual work for musicians to pick up on a regular basis. And there are more clubs so I don't think it's harder, if anything it's actually easier for Singapore musicians and there are some really good ones coming up, not just in Singapore but in the region. I would like to promote all these great musicians who don't have a platform.
AAJ: You've taken an active role in supporting musicians in Singapore through your involvement with the Composers and Authors' Society of Singapore.
JM: Well I was one of five people who founded COMPAS, as it's known by its acronym, in '87, '88. We now collect $10 million in royalties a year from broadcast and performing rights and distribute it to composers who are Singaporean as well as to people whose music is played in Singapore, whether they're from the UK, China, the US or Taiwan. We also use some of the money to promote music and sometimes supply scholarships or bursaries.
Our Chief Executive Officer is also the Chairman of the Asia Pacific Committee of the World Composers Body. We are leaders because of our transparency and competent governance. We have one of the lowest administration-to-distribution rates in the world. The world accepted ratio is twenty five per cent for administration and we only spend sixteen per cent.
AAJ: You organized the 2001 Singapore Jazz Festival; had there ever been a jazz festival before that in Singapore?
JM: There was from '85 to '87, organized by the Ministry of Culture, and it was very well done. I liked it a lot and in fact it's the concept I want to adopt for the Jazznote Festival I want to do. So then a good friend of mine who owns a jazz club in Singapore, a guy by the name of Eddie Chan, put me in touch with Singapore Airlines and they sponsored the bulk of the cost of the jazz festival.
AAJ: That was a big festival with over fifty bands but it only ran for one edition. Why so?
JM: Well 9/11 happened. Singapore Airlines, who sponsored seventy to eighty per cent of the festival, could not be seen to be sponsoring such a large festival when they were laying people off right, left and center and cutting down routes.
I think it would have continued if I'd signed a three-year contract rather than a one-year one. The reason I did that was because they were paying my company too little money so I thought, "Let me do this for one year and I'll show them what it's about and we'll slowly move up to what we need to be making. Unfortunately it was a double-edged sword because they signed five years with the Singapore Horse Racing Cup or whatever, so then they couldn't pull out. They had to honor the contract. My mistake. Oops! [laughs]
AAJ: However, you have plans for another jazz festival, right?
JM: Yes, we did a launch party for the Jazznote Festival recently. I call it Jazznote rather than the Singapore Jazz Festival for two reasons; firstly, I've already got Jazznote Records and secondly, if I call it the Jazznote Festival then I can do it anywhere in Asia, or anywhere in the world.
So now I'm talking to corporate sponsors who want to put up the Jazznote festival in places like Bangkok, Bombay, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Seoul. I want to do a nice medium-sized festival, a $300,000 to $500,000 production rather than the $3 million which we did for the first one in 2001.
I want to keep it going, have one or two big names but to find groups who are really, really great, who are not famous and who never get to play at these festivals. And in jazz, fame sometimes equates with quality but quality doesn't always equate with fame. So these are the kind of musicians I want to put up at my festival.
AAJ: Do you have dates for the first festival?
JM: In Singapore it's going to be from the 12th to the 17th June  and it will be under the umbrella of the Singapore Arts Festival which is organized by the Arts Council which allows us to plug into the infrastructure, the ticketing, and the international marketing.
AAJ: In May, 2006 you were appointed Professor and Visiting Chair of Jazz at La Salle-SIA [College of Arts, Singapore]. Is this not going to pinch your time a lot, what with organizing a jazz festival and your own day-to-day business?
JM: Because I live in Singapore I have the luxury of being able to teach classes when I'm in town, so I'll be that kind of Visiting Chair and Professor, although I'll work on specific projects and help them with strategic direction.
I will be hiring people in the next couple of months to help me execute a lot of my plans, ideas and concepts and also to help me with scheduling, you know, to do this and do that and perform all my roles well.
AAJ: You don't want to burn out.
JM: No, no. I have done that before. I actually collapsed and went to hospital for four days. That was in the days when I ran a jingles company. Being in the office doing admin until two, record a jingle until six, go home and have a quick dinner and pat the son on the head, run to my jazz gig and play until one in the morning and then run back to the studio and mix the jingle I recorded in the afternoon!
One day I just collapsed on a gig and went to hospital. I had zero immunity. I could have died. That was how sick I was. And then I went with my wife for a vacation on the gold Coast, Australia, and we walked past a jazz club where they had great jazz music and Josephine said, "Do you want to go in and listen? And I said, "I can't stand the sound of music. Let's get out of here. That's how burnt out I was. I swore I would never let myself get that burnedt out again.
AAJ: You've won an impressive number of awards but one which strikes me is, and I have to read this, the "Lifting up the World with a Oneness Heart, which is such a Sri Chinmoy title! But you are in stellar company there, alongside the last Pope, Nelson Mandela, Mohammad Ali and people like that. What was that award for?
JM: I have no idea. Sometimes I know an award is coming because I'm nominated and someone will tell me and I'll forget about it until I get a phone call telling me I've won an award. But sometimes I have no idea. There'll be a phone call out of the blueSri Chinmoy is coming to Singapore and you've been picked along with a few people, a guy who's climbed Mount Everest and so on.
I said to a friend in Chicago one time, "I don't deserve to tie Mother Teresa's shoelaces or Nelson Mandela's, and he said to me, "Yeah, but they don't know how to play a thirteen sharp eleven chord the way you do! [laughs] So, okay. I'll take it.
AAJ: Did Sri Chinmoy simply give the award to you?
JM: He's famous for this weight-lifting thing...
AAJ: Is he? I had no idea.
JM: Yeah, the metaphor is to lift you like a champion so he actually puts you on this mechanism that he has. You stand on this contraption, about seven or eight feet in the air and he lifts you two or three inches and then you come down and he puts a medal on you and blesses you. It's a bit of a show.
It's an interesting contraption. It's something he's built to make it easy, but he's still doing the lifting. He's got different contraptions by the way. And so when he lifted Nelson Mandela there was a different looking contraption. The whole thing was a mystery.
AAJ: I'm trying to visualize this but I'm having great difficulty!
EY: Who is this guy?
JM: Sri Chinmoy. He's the leader of the Interfaith Meditation Group at the United Nations. He's an Indian guru who lives in New Yorkone of the few that hasn't been arrested for tax fraud and so on.
AAJ: I urge you Jeremy, never to make an inner album cover like the one John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana did with Sri Chinmoy for the Love, Devotion and Surrender (Columbia, 1973) album.
JM: I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a Sri Chinmoy devotee but I do appreciate that someone like him should decides to honor me like that.
AAJ: You've played with a lot of great musicians over the years; which collaborations stand out?
JM: Well, you know, when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old I remember listening to a Toots Thielemans recording on a Quincy Jones record and the tune was a song written by Ray Brown called "Brown's Ballad. It was so moving I had tears in my eyes and my mum came in and said to me, "What's wrong with you? and I said, "I don't know, I just heard the most beautiful sound! And from that point I always dreamt of playing with Toots Thielemans. So when I got a chance to play with Toots when he was 81 years old, three years ago, well that stood out. But I've had a great kaleidoscope of experiences.
AAJ: You also have an ongoing project called Asiana. What can you tell us about that?
JM: Well, the project started in 1992 when the promoter of the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Singapore asked If I could put together a band to open for Simon and Garfunkel, playing some kind of ethno-fusion music because they had reportedly only been doing fifty five minute concerts so they felt they needed to put up another concert for the seven thousand people to make up the time.
So, I formed a group with the top Asian jazz musiciansLewis Pragasam, a really good drummer from Malaysia who plays a lot with Bob James, and also Eugene Pao, a great guitarist from Hong Kong and an Indian percussionist and so on. That is how it started and we've gotten together every couple of years to do some sort of project.
It was amazing because Simon and Garfunkel needed a replacement keyboard player because their keyboard player was held back in Toronto on some charge by the police.
AAJ: Yeah, maybe for only playing for fifty five minutes!
JM: So, they used a local keyboard player in Tokyo and they used me in Singapore, so that was great. I remember at the end of the concert I felt like I was just a sub guy in the band and I walked to the side of the stage. And there's Simon and Garfunkel, Steve Gadd, Michael Brecker, Armand Sabaleco, all these great guys taking their bows, and Paul Simon noticed that I wasn't on stage and he actually went off the stage to grab me to take my bows with the band which I thought was really sweet.
AAJ: There seem to be a lot of young jazz festivals in South East Asia; Bangkok is four years old, Hua Hin is four years old too. Then there's a new jazz festival starting in Chiang Mai in February. There's a five year-old festival in Hanoi and Saigon, and Malaysia has the Penang festival, now in its third year plus another whose name I can't remember and in Indonesia you have Java Jazz and Jakjazz, both young festivals. Not forgetting your own upcoming Jazznote festival, and the Mosaic festival in Singapore which is effectively a jazz festival. Is this a sign that jazz is very healthy in South East Asia or is it simply a desire to promote jazz?
JM: I think a lot of the big jazz festivals are sponsored by corporations who feel that jazz music resonates with their demographic that they're trying to reach out to, the target audience and the product character, and that's why all of a sudden there's money for jazz.
However sometimes the corporations have got a very clear mandate, you know, Heineken are very fusiony in content and so there's no straight ahead jazz in the Heineken festivals which is a pity because Freddy Heineken used to be a big supporter and a great fan of all kinds of jazz.
That's why I want to do a small festival. Yes, of course there has got to be some resonance with the sponsors who come in, but it's got to be about the music at the end of the day.
Jeremy Monteiro, Homecoming (Jazznote, 2006)
Greg Fishman & Jeremy Monteiro, Only Trust Your Heart (Jazznote, 2005)
Jeremy Monteiro, My Foolish Heart (Jazznote, 2005)
Jeremy Monteiro, A Song for you, Karen (F.I.M., 2003)
Jeremy Monteiro, Swinging In Chicago (Sangaji, 2003)
Syahavani, Love (Sangaji, 2002)
Jeremy Monteiro, The Girl From Ipanema (Sangaji, 2001)
Jeremy Monteiro, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Sangaji, 1999)
Ernie Watts, Stand Up (Odyssey Records, 1992)
Monteiro,Young & Holt, Blues For The Sax Club (JJ Jazz Records, 1990)
Monteiro,Young & Holt, Live at Montreux (JJ Jazz Records, 1989)
Jeremy Monteiro, Always in Love (JJ jazz Records, 1989)
Jerazmee, Faces and Places (Jazznote, 1988)
Top Two Photos: Courtesy of Jeremy Monteiro
Bottom Two Photos: Russel Wong, courtesy of Jeremy Monteiro