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Jeremy Monteiro Releases "The New Jersey Sessions"

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    Posted: 18 Jun 2024 at 4:17pm




Featuring Houston Person, Alex Sipiagin

Released May 31, 2024 on Jazznote Records 

JEREMY MONTEIRO - Sean Hong Wei & Jeremy Monteiro : The New Jersey Sessions cover

Dubbed “The King of Swing” in his native Singapore, JEREMY MONTEIRO is renowned as one of the premier jazz pianists in all of Asia. He has recorded 47 albums since 1978 and has worked with many of the world’s greatest jazz artists, including James Moody, Benny Golson, Michael Brecker, Bobby McFerrin, Randy Brecker, Lee Ritenour, Herbie Mann, Paulinho DaCosta, Ernie Watts, Charlie Haden, Terumasa Hino, Al Foster, Carmen Bradford, and Toots Thielemans, among many others.


Monteiro has recorded many of his albums in the U.S., and he is now releasing his 48th project, THE NEW JERSEY SESSIONS. He is not only a superb pianist and composer adept in a range of styles, he is also the founder and executive director of the Jazz Association (Singapore), an organization dedicated to jazz education and promoting Singapore jazz globally through scholarships and other support activities. On THE NEW JERSEY SESSIONS, Monteiro shares top billing with 25-year-old saxophonist SEAN HONG WEI.


Hong (Hong is his family name) began playing the saxophone when he was 13 years old. By the time he was 18, when he and Monteiro first met, his talents were obvious. He became a member of the Jazz Association Singapore Orchestra (JASSO), a professional big band, and the Jazz Association Singapore Youth Orchestra (JASSYO!), its youth wing. Monteiro’s orchestras gave Sean the opportunity to share the stage with top names in the jazz world, like Benny Golson, Randy Brecker, Antonio Hart, Tony Lakatos, and Lewis Nash.


Hong was a standout musician and received scholarships from both The Jazz Association (Singapore) and The New School, New York City’s multi-discipline, innovative college dedicated to fostering creative and entrepreneurial talent. He came to New York in 2022, where he still lives and studies at The New School.


Monteiro comes frequently to the States on business, and on a trip to New York, he got in touch with his young colleague. Monteiro is very familiar with Hong’s playing and could hear different musical influences in his music. Monteiro says, “Dexter Gordon was an important influence for Sean, but he has been listening to a lot of John Coltrane lately, and I could hear his approach to improvisation changing. While I was in New York, I wanted to capture on record this inflection point in his musical growth.” They recorded the album at the New Jersey studio of his friend, John Lee, the former bass player in Dizzy Gillespie’s band.


Monteiro attracts top talent wherever he performs. Joining him and Hong are some stalwarts on the New York City jazz scene, including JAY ANDERSON on bass and EVAN SHERMAN on drums, as well as special guests HOUSTON PERSON on sax and ALEX SIPIAGIN on trumpet. 


THE NEW JERSEY SESSIONS comprises eight jazz standards and one original, penned by Monteiro. A truly collaborative project, both artists brought tunes to the table. Although Monteiro has earned the sobriquet “King of Swing,” his music encompasses everything from blues to classical to funk and beyond. On this project, Monteiro also unleashes his edgier, bop-inflected chops, while Hong echoes the great saxophonists of the 1950s and 60s.


They open the album with a Charlie Parker tune, “Dewey Square.” The tune is a smoking bebop number that features solos by Sipiagin, Monteiro, Hong and Sherman. Victor Young’s “Weaver of Dreams” has been performed by dozens of artists since Nat King Cole’s original release in 1951. Hong’s solo has elements of both Gordon and Coltrane, while his warm, mellow tone pairs beautifully with Monteiro’s easy swing. The tune also features a melodic solo by Sherman.


Hong loves Coltrane’s versions of Billy Eckstine’s beautiful song, “I Want to Talk About You.” Hong says, “Coltrane played this tune many times, playing it differently each time. My goal was to find my own voice in this song.” Monteiro had previously recorded the Marvin Fisher song, “Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You,” with vocalist Eden Atwood and loved the idea of recording it again when Hong suggested it. Monteiro and Hong give the song their own imprimatur by playing it at a faster tempo than usual.


Hong and Person trade 8 bar solos on “When Sunny Gets Blue.” Monteiro says, “Listening to a master like Houston and up-and-coming talent like Sean was like listening to the older generation passing the baton to the younger one.” Hong credits Person for showing him how important it is to know the lyrics of a song to capture the composer’s intent. Monteiro chose “Out of Nowhere” because he says that Singapore does not have the wealth of young musical talent as is found in the US, and an extraordinary talent like Hong just seemed to come from out of nowhere. They play the tune with a Latin swing feel.


“Bag’s Groove” is Milt Jackson’s popular bluesy composition. It features solos by Person, Hong, and Monteiro. Monteiro composed “Life Goes On” after his father died tragically and unexpectedly 20 years ago. The album closes with Monteiro and Hong playing a duet on “Sophisticated Lady.” They had not planned on recording the song, but after they finished recording the other tracks, they decided to add it to the repertoire. Monteiro says, “Sean sings the melody on his instrument, and this tune reminded me of the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans recording. We captured it in one take.”


Although jazz no longer has the wide popularity it once enjoyed, it is refreshing to hear great jazz artists like Jeremy Monteiro, who hail from distant parts of the globe. It is also very encouraging that talented young musicians like Sean Hong Wei still find the music compelling. As the music on THE NEW JERSEY SESSIONS shows, the baton is indeed being passed to very capable hands.


# # #


THE NEW JERSEY SESSIONS is set for release in the USA on May 31, 2024 on Jazznote Records.




Instagram @SeanHongWei




Instagram @JeremyMonteiro

X formerly known as Twitter @JeremyMonteiro

Edited by snobb - 18 Jun 2024 at 4:19pm
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