Year-round gigs at SingJazz Club

Year-round gigs at SingJazz Club
Jazz musician Jeremy Monteiro

SINGAPORE - The new SingJazz Club, which takes over the premises of the now defunct Sultan Jazz Club, aims to become the platform for jazz musicians to finetune their craft.

The club is a collaboration between Orbis Festival Productions, the company that organised the Singapore Interna- tional Jazz Festival (SingJazz) at Marina Bay Sands from Feb 27 to March 2 this year, and hospitality management company Total Hospitality Group.

It will have what it calls a "soft launch" next Thursday, with acts that include singer Melissa Tham, pianist and keyboardist Mario Serio and drummer Eddie Layman and will open from Thursday to Sunday nights. Other local jazz artists including singer Rani Singam, Kerong Chok and The Steve McQueens will also perform at the club on later dates.

Sultan Jazz Club fans will find the place familiar as the new club owners have kept the original layout and have done only minimal cosmetic renovations. While the new owners will only say that their investment in the new club is a "substantial amount", they chose the space because it is a "well-loved venue" in a central location that has "a great listening room".

Orbis Festival Productions' co- founder, director and senior advisor, Mr Michael Tay, 55, says: "We are starting up the SingJazz Club to fulfil a mission. We all love jazz and we feel that the local scene is under-represented. We have many amazing musicians here. We feel there has been a re-awakening in recent years. We want to give them a place to perform, to build their credentials."

The former diplomat, who was Singapore's ambassador to Russia from 2003 to 2008, adds that the club will be the year-round extension to the SingJazz festival, which is expected to hold its second edition early next year.

"We want to make Singapore a jazz hub in the region and it cannot just happen with a festival that takes place once a year, so now, we have a club that will have gigs all year round."

Orbis Festival Productions' co- founder and artistic director David Lyndon Smith, who is also associate principal trumpet of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and a faculty member of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, says the SingJazz Club will link up with jazz clubs around the region, including Bangkok's Smiles and Kuala Lumpur's No Black Tie.

"We will have local musicians do a residency here and then get them gigs in clubs around the region and similarly, those clubs can do the same with artists in their clubs," says Smith, 41.

While the club owners emphasise that jazz is "the core" of the club, the venue will also occasionally host non-jazz events such as comedy nights and other genres, including electronic dance music or flamenco.

Orbis Festival Productions' co-founder and executive director Alfredo Castillo, Jr, 42, who is also founder & managing director of Total Hospitality Group, says: "We should be able to have fun with this place. It shouldn't be so rigid."

This article was published on May 15 in The Straits Times.

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