PROFESSOR JEREMY MONTEIRO
Dubbed "Singapore's King of Swing," Cultural Medallion recipient Jeremy Monteiro has garnered critical acclaim all over the world since helping to put Singapore in the world history of jazz in 1988, when he became the first Southeast Asian to play and lead a band of established international jazz musicians on the main stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival, performing as "Monteiro, Young & Holt and Friends."
He started his career in 1976 at a local hotel and then as a pianist & bandleader at the famed BClub 392 jazz club in Singapore in 1977 where many artists such as Nancy Wilson have performed. 2021 marks the 45th year of his career.
Jeremy has performed and/ or recorded with the likes of James Moody, Benny Golson, Michael Brecker, Bobby McFerrin, Randy Brecker, Lee Ritenour, Herbie Mann, Paulinho DaCosta, Ernie Watts, Charlie Haden, Terumasa Hiro, Carmen Bradford, Matt Monro, Toots Thielemans and Simon & Garfunkel, to name a few. He has also played on the main stages of the EFG London Jazz Festival and is the only Southeast Asian jazz musician to have had an album released on the iconic Verve record label, "Jeremy Monteiro & Alberto Marsico - Jazz-Blues Brothers."
Jeremy has also released 10 albums in as many years, including "Brazilian Dreams," "Montage," "With a Little Help from My Friends," and "Yesterday Once More - A Jazz Tribute to The Carpenters," with an album launch concert in September 2018. In September 2019, he released "Jeremy Monteiro and Friends: Overjoyed - A Jazz Tribute to the Music of Stevie Wonder."
His latest album, "Live at No Black Tie - Kuala Lumpur" with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Lewis Nash, is his 45th jazz album as leader. The album has reached the Top 20 of the Jazzweek Charts, the most respected jazz charts in the United States. He has also played on more than 300 pop albums in the Asia region and receive the Silver Medal for Best Music Score in 1991 at the International Radio Festival of New York for his Classical-Folk Piece Overture in C Major - the Story of Singapore.
Jeremy is also a writer, with a volume of essays titled "Jeremy Monteiro: Late-Night Thoughts of a Jazz Musician," published by Marshall Cavendish in September 2018. The book received two literary awards from the Golden Door Awards in 2020, a 3rd Prize in the main category and a Bronze Medal in the Rex Karmaveer category for integrity in writing.
Since 2012, he has served as the International Arts Ambassador for EFG Bank, headquartered in Switzerland and sponsor of one of the most prominent jazz festivals in the world, the EFG London Jazz Festival. In addition, he is a Fellow fo the London College of Music and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in the UK, and Visiting Professor of the University of West London.
Jeremy received the pinnacle award in the arts in Singapore in 2002, the Cultural Medallion.
He is also a co-founder of the Composers & Authors Society of Singapore Limited (COMPASS), an organisation responsible for the protection of music copyrights in Singapore, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In 2016, together with a few jazz-supporter friends, he established the Jazz Association (Singapore) (JASS), to bring jazz to people in all parts of Singapore, help raise its level of excellence, especially in the area of youth development and work towards making Singapore a leading jazz city of the world.
Today, Jeremy continues to bring jazz to all corners of Singapore, and Singapore jazz to countries all around the world with his musician friends and with the JASS orchestras.
SENIOR ASSOCIATE MUSIC DIRECTOR
Weixiang ("Wei") is one of the young lions of the Singapore jazz scene. A latecomer to jazz, Wei started piano studies at 15, and jazz at 21 when he was in law school. A protégé of Thelonius Monk alumnus Victor Gaskin, Wei's musical career skyrocketed after his first gig at a hotel lounge in Singapore two decades ago.
Wei's piano-performance credits span major cities around the world with the biggest names in jazz, including Grammy-award nominees and winners Brian Lynch, Stanley Jordan and Dave Samuels, to name a few. His playing has been lauded by piano virtuoso Jean-Michel Pile as "ruthlessly inventive." Wei's music is informed by a lifelong commitment to jazz knowledge and history, while being inspired by all things interesting and meaningful in life.
While Wei's work has taken him around the world, he is deeply committed to community work. He has supported in depth many charitable associations with interests ranging from helping elephant orphans in Kenya, to supporting children with special needs in Singapore. Wei was named "New Yorker of the Week" in 2008, by news channel NY1, for his performance in homeless shelters.
As an academic, Wei taught as an adjunct professor in New York University and was a full-time lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts. Besides serving as Senior Associate Music Director of JASS, Wei is also the Deputy Head of Music and Drama Company, overseeing a passionate team of talented artists and producers.
ASSOCIATE MUSIC DIRECTOR
Chok Kerong is one of Singapore’s most versatile talents. Traversing the numerous genres under the umbrella of popular music with equal finesse, he has distinguished himself as a swinging, harmonically inventive pianist and organist, and has also emerged as a composer of extraordinary clarity and depth.
Kerong’s compositions and arrangements have been performed by luminaries like maestro Jeremy Monteiro, celebrated singer Rani Singam, the critically-acclaimed T’ang Quartet, and the Singapore Wind Symphony, to name a few. In 2018, his compositions for an 11-piece chamber ensemble were featured in Hong Kong as part of ‘Departure’, a project helmed by guitarist and composer Teriver Cheung. Commissioned by Jazz Association (Singapore) that same year, Kerong wrote ‘Sketches of Miles’, an episodic work that showcased his fresh approach to orchestration and complex harmony. The premiere featured Grammy Award winning trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist Antonio Hart and veteran bassist Jay Anderson. Together with the Jazz Association (Singapore) Youth Orchestra, they mesmerised the audience with their hard-hitting, no-holds-barred interpretation of the score.
Kerong’s creative output continued to evolve over the last few years. In 2019, he presented ‘PITCH’, a hybrid ensemble project featuring new compositions that meld 20th-century chromaticism, soul, swing and Brazilian music. More recently, he was commissioned by the Singapore International Festival of Arts in 2021 to write a chamber work, ‘The Light Behind Us’, performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with Singapore Dance Theatre. His latest work, ‘Waves: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra’, was commissioned by flautist Rit Xu, and released in March 2022.
Kerong has performed as a leader of his own group at internationally renowned music events such as Tokyo Jazz Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Singapore International Festival of Arts and Macau Jazz Week. Additionally, he performs regularly as organist/keyboardist for singer-songwriter Charlie Lim, where his many stylistic influences coalesce with his foundational sensibility as a pop musician. With Charlie & his band, the Mothership, Kerong has performed at festivals such as Summer Sonic (Tokyo), BIGSOUND (Brisbane), Wanderland Music Festival (Manila) and Singapore Inside Out (London). Most recently, he served as music director for the inaugural concert by Charlie Lim and The Great Wave, a tech-based artist collective, which featured the Mothership alongside Aisyah Aziz, Dru Chen, KEYANA, Kittypurrnaz, Ng Pei-Sian, Umar Sirhan and Yeo.
Kerong's latest album, 'Spiral', is a collaborative project with singer-songwriter Vanessa Fernandez. Released in Feb 2023, the record is a seamless blend of hip-hop, soul and gospel, and was described as a "triumph of both artistes' musicality" by The Straits Times.
Kerong is a Mosaic Associate Artist, whom the Esplanade has committed to providing tailored, intensive support.
ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR
Raised in multi-cultural Singapore and a musical family, Rit burst onto the Singapore jazz scene in 2011 after winning the Thailand International Jazz Solo Competition. He has also won the NFA Jazz Artist Competition in 2014, making him the first Southeast Asian to win a solo jazz competition in the United States.
Rit graduated with honours in classical flute performance from the famed Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore.
In 2019, he was awarded the Jazz Association (Singapore)’s JASS Music Scholarship (Overseas) to study towards a Master's degree in Jazz Studies. With support from the Scholarship programme, Rit has recently completed his studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College NY.
In recent years, he was prominently featured with the Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra at the annual Jazzaar Festival led by jazz stalwart Fritz K Renold, and is a regular member of the Jazz Association Singapore Orchestra. In addition, Rit is an integral sideman with jazz icon Jeremy Monteiro and a key member of the Lorong Boys, a classical-pop fusion group which shot to fame on social media with their humorous and light-hearted juxtaposition of classical music and top 40s hits.
Rit is also a first-call flutist in the studio recording scene, laying down flute tracks to television commercials, films, video games, documentaries, and pop music albums since the age of nine. He played all the flute solos in the soundtrack of Taiwanese movie, "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale," which won the 48th Golden Horse Award for best original film score.
As a passionate music educator, Rit has been teaching the fundamentals to finer points of flute-playing since 2008. He founded www.flutelessons.sg in 2016 and has made it his mission to inspire others to share his love for music and the flute.
ORCHESTRA & REPERTOIRE MANAGER
Before joining the Jazz Association (Singapore) as our Resident Trumpeter and Orchestra & Repertoire Manager, Benny served as a Principal Trumpeter in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Central Band, and the SAF Big Band from 1998 to 2011.
In addition to his work at JASS, he actively performs with the Singapore Lyric Opera. In the local musical scene, he has made a name for himself playing on multiple musicals, such as "West Side Story," "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and Singapore's production of "Chang & Eng." In the pop and commercial music industry, he has performed with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Sarah Brightman and Frances Yip.
He also played in the Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra tribute shows, and played lead trumpet at Katherine Jenkins' and Patrizio Buanne's concerts in Singapore.
Benny has also performed in ensembles including the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and the SSO Brass Quintet.
In addition to the Singapore projects, Benny has also performed overseas on several occasions. As part of the Thomson Big Band, he represented Singapore at the International Association of Jazz Education conference in Canada and Jazz Yatra ("Jazz Pilgrimage") in Bombay, and played at the Borneo Jazz Festival, EFG London Jazz Festival, and most recently, in early 2019, at the Jazz Education Network (JEN) COnference in Reno, with the Jazz Association Singapore Orchestra (JASSO).
Benny's jazz experiences have taken him around the world, and given him the opportunities to learn from and play alongside jazz masters such as Wynton Marsalis and Randy Brecker.
JAZZ ASSOCIATION SINGAPORE ORCHESTRA (JASSO)
The formation of our main orchestra, the Jazz Association Singapore Orchestra (JASSO), brings together some of the best Singaporean and Singapore-based jazz musicians. It comprises around 20 professional jazz musicians, with a few outstanding members from our youth orchestra.
JAZZ ASSOCIATION SINGAPORE YOUTH ORCHESTRA (JASSYO!)
Our youth wing, the Jazz Association Singapore Youth Orchestra (JASSYO!), was set up with the objectives of engaging and developing our youth musicians, nurturing their talents, and grooming the future generations of jazz musicians. It comprises around 20 jazz musicians below the age of 35.