Album Review of
Live at No Black Tie Kuala Lumpur

Written by Joe Ross
April 21, 2021 - 5:49pm EDT
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A sparkling live set by pianist Jeremy Monteiro has “Singapore’s King of Swing” in the harmonic and solo spotlight, ably assisted by bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Lewis Nash. After turning pro at age 17, Monteiro’s distinguished career has spanned over four decades, and he has released many albums on his Jazznote label. Monteiro has a highly individual style full of personality. Recorded Live at No Black Tie in Kuala Lumpur in May 2018, the trio is tight and adventurous. Opening with Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” we know we’re in for some engaging music from three veteran players. While one might miss something like Paul Desmond’s sax in the mix, Jeremy Monteiro and company keep their playing very cool, palatable and even a little enigmatic at times with a variety of techniques employed. Solos are inventive and expertly played with taste and elegance.

The affable trio moves seamlessly from up-tempo pieces like Jule Styne’s “Just in Time” to a leisurely, most expressive nine-minute rendition of “Prelude to a Kiss.” I’m sure the audience in Kuala Lumpur was held in rapt attention by the sheer joy and life in their music. “Mode for Love” is Monteiro’s tribute to the iconic saxophonist James Moody, and the pensive “Josefina” was written for Monteiro’s wife. “Mount Olive” is a melodic, spiritually-infused composition that exudes delight and jubilation. “Life Goes On,” a sentimental, reflective tribute to Monteiro’s father, is expressive without being somber or melancholy. “Monk in the Mountain” is a 12-minute energetic workout, co-composed by Monteiro and Hong Kong guitarist Eugene Pao to celebrate an American man who gave up all of his worldly possessions to become a Buddhist monk and live in seclusion amidst nature. A delightful, creative arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” closes out the album with the toe-tapping crowd-pleaser. On this album, Monteiro, Anderson and Nash play effervescent jazz in a style that covers many moods. Monteiro is virtuosic, while Anderson and Nash convey impressive rhythmic intensity.   (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)