Featuring the eminent mentorship of internationally-acclaimed jazz musicians including 5-time Grammy award-winner Randy Brecker, the Jazz Association Singapore Youth Orchestra and emerging youth talents.
May 17, 2018
By Ang Yi An
After the successful inaugural Lion City Youth Jazz Festival in 2017, the Jazz Association (Singapore), also known as JASS, is proud to present, for the second year running, the Lion City Youth Jazz Festival 2018 from 21-26 May. The signature of this festival is our week-long On-Stage Learning Programme. This is a professional-level, immersive and practical programme designed to allow the youth musicians to experience what it is like to rehearse and play at the highest levels of jazz performance. Through a 5-day series of rehearsals and workshops culminating in a Finale Concert on 26 May, the programme focuses on nurturing the talent and developing the skills of youth musicians under the tutelage of international jazz legends and prominent professional jazz musicians specially-invited to be their mentors. At the concert, the mentors will perform with the youth-musicians selected for the learning programme alongside the Jazz Association Singapore Youth Orchestra (JassYO!), led by Music Director, pianist, composer and Cultural Medallion-winner, Jeremy Monteiro, with Associate Music Director Weixiang Tan.
With the first festival, we were off on a strong start with legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Benny Golson as our Chief Mentor, and distinguished musicians Alex Sipiagin, Eijiro Nakagawa, Dave Newdick, Hong Chanutr Techatana-Nan and Tony Lakatos serving as mentors alongside the festival’s Guest Music Director, Fritz K Renold.
Hot on the heels of last year’s event is our second instalment of the festival, this time helmed by some of the most prominent jazz legends and professional musicians today including 5-time Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker from the United States; the most recorded drummer in jazz history, Lewis Nash (US); professor at the Manhattan School of Music, bassist Jay Anderson (US), who has played with the most influential Jazz musicians from Carmen McRae to the Maria Schneider Orchestra, where he is currently the resident bassist; CUNY Queens College jazz professor and prominent alto-saxophonist Antonio Hart (US); and from Sweden, Ulf Wakenius, the guitarist in jazz legend Oscar Peterson’s last quartet.
Completing this illustrious list of international mentors are pianist and Mahidol University Head of Jazz Studies Joe “Darin” Pantoomkomol from Thailand; multi-genre master trombonist Marques Young from US; and renowned modern lead trumpeter Tom Walsh from the United Kingdom (please refer to the Annex A for the full list of mentors and biographies).
The members of JassYO!, comprising our talented youth jazz musicians mostly from Singapore with guest youth musician, jazz prodigy CC Lee from China, will be immersed in a high-level professional rehearsal and performing experience. During last year’s festival, apart from the soaring and searing high-powered solo performances of the mentors, the synergy between the youth musicians and their mentors in the ensemble parts of the presentation was palpable and such a joy to witness, one was hard-pressed to tell the difference between the youth members and their mentors.
This year, the five days of intensive full-day rehearsals by our youth musicians and their mentors are combined with the preceding weeks of preparation by the youths to ensure that this is one of the jazz concerts to remember in 2018. Pre-festival rehearsals will commence in early May after an audition process to select talented youth for their place in the programme. Rehearsals under the guidance of the mentors during the festival stretch over five full days from 21-25 May. As part of the festival, there will also be a daily Workshop Series led by these mentors at the end of each day. Members of the public are encouraged to sign up and participate to learn more about jazz (please refer to Annex B for Workshop dates and details).
This year’s festival is structured in the form of two concerts in one, with two distinct themes. The first half of the concert features sophisticated jazz arrangements of the beautiful melodies originating from Singapore and her neighbouring countries. Among them is the age-old Malacca-Portuguese folk song Jingkli Nona, given an interesting odd-time meter treatment by one of the top American Big-Band arrangers, Tom Kubis, and Music Director Jeremy Monteiro, with overlapping lines forming a colourful musical tapestry. Also featured are gorgeous ballads from Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, including a sublime arrangement by Kerong Chok of the beloved Malay ballad “Getaran Jiwa” by P Ramlee, which will be accompanied by the silky voice of guest vocalist Rudy Djoe, and a swinging arrangement of the traditional Thai folk song “Loy Loy Krathong.” Rudy Djoe will also lend his voice to Indonesia’s most famous ballad, “Bengawan Solo” at the concert.
The poignant Filipino ballad “Dahil Sayo” will also be performed, set to the vocals of powerhouse vocalist Alemay Fernandez. This lilting tune is so famous that it was once sung by the great Nat King Cole. Representing Singapore will be a majestic treatment of Singapore’s National Song “One People, One Nation, One Singapore,” by Jeremy Monteiro.
The second half of the repertoire pays tribute to one of the pillars of Jazz, Miles Davis, who, besides being one of the most acclaimed jazz trumpeters, revolutionised jazz multiple times and was at the forefront of all its stylistic periods during his lifetime. Featured music includes a newly-commissioned composition by the “enfant terrible” of the Singapore jazz scene, Kerong Chok, entitled “Sketches of Miles,” an impressionistic representation of the various musical periods Miles Davis created in his illustrious career. Michael Mossman’s pulsating arrangement of the tune “Tutu” and other tunes closely associated with the jazz legend, including “Seven Steps to Heaven” are also in the repertoire, alongside one of Miles Davis’ best-known compositions, “All Blues,” which will also be performed by Alemay Fernandez. Given an energetic treatment by Tom Kubis, this piece provides a musical wink in the direction of Chief Mentor Randy Brecker in the soli section, serving as a respectful nod to his presence in the musical proceedings of the concert.
As part of this year’s festival, JASS is also proud to launch the JASS Scholarship Programme with the first-ever scholarships in Singapore dedicated to Jazz Studies, offering one local scholarship (up to S$10,000 for one academic year) and one overseas scholarship (up to S$30,000 for one academic year).
The JASS Music Scholarship is a specialised merit-based scholarship in a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies, designed to nurture talented young musicians with a passion for jazz music, promote excellence in jazz performance as an art form and develop leaders in the jazz arts landscape. After two rigorous rounds of auditions and interviews, two successful candidates will be selected and the scholarship presentation ceremony will take place at the Finale Concert.