Local jazz veteran Jeremy Monteiro releases new album with Alberto Marsico
One is something of a Singaporean jazz legend. The other is an equally renowned Italian jazz organ player.
But no cultural differences stand in the way of Jeremy Monteiro and Alberto Marsico.
Conversation flows easily between Monteiro, 54, and Marsico, 48, often punctuated with hearty laughter.
The pair are collaborating on an album entitled Jazz-Blues Brothers, which also features US tenor saxophonist Shawn Letts, Hong Kong guitarist Eugene Pao and US drummer Shawn Kelley.
It is their first album together and will be launched during their show - Jeremy Monteiro & Alberto Marsico with The Jazz-Blues Brothers - on Friday and Saturday at The Star Terrace.
The album is the first from Singapore to be released on the famous Verve label, home to legends like the late Billie Holiday.
M spoke to the duo yesterday about their album.
How did the Jazz-Blues Brothers happen?
Monteiro: I'm very proud of it. Most of my jazz heroes like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson and James Moody were on the label.
I have Alberto to thank for this since his record with Italian trumpet player Fabrizio Bosso and Italian jazz drummer Alessandro Minetto , Purple, was also released on Verve just last year.
First, he pushed me to record an album. Then he pushed me to get it on the label.
Universal Music Singapore said it was great and they approached the big people at Verve.
Marsico: We first met in 2002 when I played in Singapore with Italian blues guitarist Enrico Crivellaro. We met again in 2012 when we jammed together.
Monteiro: When I first met Alberto, I had stopped playing the organ for some 20 years. I have him to thank him for getting me started again.
When did you start working on the album?
Monteiro: Alberto and I did The Jazz Organ Summit tour in Asia last October with US organ player Tony Monaco. Alberto convinced me to record an album shortly after that.
I had said I was tired because I have other stuff to do - and I had already recorded over 30 albums. But I agreed.
There are eight tracks and it was recorded in under two days at Lion Studios.
Marsico: (Laughs.) The rest of the time was spent eating, right? Jeremy sent me the tracks which were mixed and mastered in Italy, and then mixed again when Jeremy came to Turin in May.
What can we expect from the show?
Monteiro: On one track, we switch instruments, so we might do that.
Marsico: We will play mostly songs from the album but start off with our own tunes. We will play Alberto's tracks Upstairs and Wishy Washy, and one of mine called Jazzybelle's Shuffle.
Was communication difficult?
Marsico: The most difficult part is actually flying to get here. Everything else is easy with the Internet. We use Skype, WhatsApp and e-mail to send songs, chat and share ideas even if we're thousands of miles away.
The Verve Remixed Series by Verve Records involves famous DJs and producers creating remixes of classic Verve jazz songs. Would you like your songs remixed?
Monteiro: I'm more impressed with originals, but I'm open to anything musically. If there's a new way to give our album life in a way we had not thought of, then we have no objections.
Marsico: One part of jazz is swing music, which is linked to dancing. Similarly, soul jazz and funk always have this beat going on. So maybe these remixes are modern versions of that.
I don't like it 100 per cent. I once heard a remixed version of a Billie Holiday song and I must say I was a bit disturbed.
Monteiro: I would like to see our album have a life of its own in its pure form and then whatever happens after that, we're okay with it. We would have moved on to our next record.
Marsico: A collaboration with a DJ, right?
Monteiro: Maybe we take turns to DJ... not really.
Marsico: We're old-fashioned bears!
What's the best part about working with each other?
Marsico: When you are happy working together, it gives a special flavour to music. So as you can tell, we hate each other. (Laughs.)
Musically, we love the same stuff and it's very easy to work with Jeremy because he immediately understands my vision and vice versa.
Monteiro: I'm involved in all kinds of music. So a big part of my life was when I played with Eldee Young and Isaac Redd Holt until Young passed away. I lost my main playmate. So it's wonderful that Alberto and I are working together. I feel like my life is complete again.
Marsico: Aww, I complete you! Have you got some insulin? It's so sweet! (Laughs.)
Monteiro: I have an upcoming Christmas album called Let's Keep Christmas In Our Hearts. One of the songs was recorded in Turin with the Sunshine Gospel Choir. Marsico: I'm planning a record next year with my band Organ Logistics.
WHAT Jeremy Monteiro & Alberto Marsico with The Jazz-Blues Brothers
WHEN Friday and Saturday, 8pmWHERE The Star Terrace, The Star Performing Arts Centre
TICKETS $35 from Sistic at www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555