Singapore will put itself on the musical map when the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival, the largest jazz gathering to hit the city-state, takes over February 27 through March 2. Locals and travelers alike will pile into Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to see performances from renowned international artists and well-known local talents. The hotel (an architectural icon and a must-visit destination in itself) will serve as the Sing Jazz host venue, offering shows in the famous Grand Theatre (only on February 27) and the outdoor Events Plaza, which has a nice backdrop of the island’s skyline.
Headlining the four-day event are Grammy Award-winning artists Natalie Cole, Jamie Cullum, India Arie and Gregory Porter. They will perform with other international artists, such as Incognito, James Morrison, Roy Hargrove, Roberta Gambarini and the James Taylor Quartet, as well as local and regional jazz names, such as the Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet led by Jeremy Monteiro and featuring Melissa Tham; Alemay Fernandez; and Richard Jackson.
How this musical event came about is a tribute to a small band of arts and music fans dedicated to jazz. The group was spearheaded by David Lyndon Smith, founder and artistic director of Sing Jazz, and Michael Tay, former Singapore ambassador to Russia and founder and director of the Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise. “It was a true labor of love that was two years in the making,” says Smith, who is also known for his principal role in the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. “ It was conceived, literally, by a group of us jazz lovers who want to add to the growing and evolving jazz scene here, especially after the success of Brass Explosion 2012.”
To put the event together, Smith and his group collaborated with the organizers of Java Jazz to bring some of the world’s best artists to Singapore. “Along with MBS, our venue partner, we have been working closely together to make this vision of an international standard jazz festival in Singapore a reality.”
Smith and the other directors plan to make Sing Jazz an annual festival. “Singapore’s jazz scene is relatively young compared to other countries, but because of that ‘youth,’ it is a very diverse one that embraces a wide range of jazz genres and styles,” Smith says.
He foresees that the potential of jazz to reach a wider audience in Singapore is huge, since jazz is by nature fluid and embraces so many aspects of other musical genres. “With the rich community of talent and increasing numbers of jazz lovers here, I believe that the jazz scene will keep growing to embrace everyone. Sing Jazz aims to be a catalyst of this growth.”
To see the growth firsthand, single-day tickets are available starting at $90 and can be purchased online.
Photos Courtesy of Ugene Ong, Universal Music Singapore and Marina Bay Sands