Paris inspires joint album for jazz duo: Hong Kong's Eugene Pao, Singapore's Jeremy Monteiro

Hong Kong jazz guitarist Eugene Pao.
Hong Kong jazz guitarist Eugene Pao.PHOTO: COURTESY OF EUGENE PAO

Eugene Pao and Jeremy Monteiro do songs by composer Michel Legrand

Hong Kong jazz guitarist Eugene Pao was in Paris in 2013 when Singapore jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro made him an offer he could not refuse.

The two were there doing a few shows as part of a tour together and decided to go out one night to take photos of the scenic city.

Pao, 56, recalls: "All of a sudden, Jeremy said, 'we have to make a record together'. It took me half a second to say 'yeah, of course'. He was so inspired by being in Paris."

In June this year, they went to a studio in Germany to record the 11 tracks for their album, To Paris With Love. It will be launched with a gig at Victoria Concert Hall on Oct 16.

In the album, the pair do songs by French composer Michel Legrand, an Oscar winner whose wide repertoire includes songs that have gone on to become jazz standards.

  • BOOK IT/JEREMY MONTEIRO & EUGENE PAO TO PARIS WITH LOVE

  • WHERE: Victoria Concert Hall

    WHEN: Oct 16, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $35 to $75 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

"Michel Legrand is the quintessential French composer, he wrote many great tunes," Pao says on the telephone from his home in Hong Kong.

The album tracks include two Legrand-inspired originals - one by Pao and Monteiro titled From Paris To Segre, named after Pao and Monteiro's travels to and from the French city and town respectively, and a solo Monteiro piece titled Alone In Paris.

The pair will perform all the tunes from the album at the upcoming show. Home-grown singers Robert Fernando and Alemay Fernandez, as well as classical musicians Oxley String Quartet, will join them when they play From Paris To Segre.

Since the mid-1980s, Pao has become one of the most recognised names in Hong Kong's jazz scene.

The bachelor has played with jazz luminaries Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and James Moody. He has released several albums, including his 1996 debut solo release, By The Company You Keep.

He is also part of the Asian Super Guitar Project, a trio of guitarists including Kazumi Watanabe from Japan and Jack Lee from South Korea, and has toured with artists such as Dutch singer Laura Fygi.

Pao and Monteiro have been collaborating since the 1980s. Pao says: "We first met at a jazz festival in Singapore in the mid-1980s. I went with my group to one of his gigs to check him out.

"We must have jammed at that gig and subsequently, whenever he came to Hong Kong, he'd go to my gigs."

The two are part of the Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet, a group made up of the region's finest jazz musicians. The band released a live CD in 2011 and have toured Asia and Europe.

Pao says his relationship with Monteiro goes deeper than music.

"He is one of my best friends. Playing music together, the vibe is so easy and so nice. When I play with him, it feels like family, it feels like home."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Paris inspires joint album for jazz duo'. Print Edition | Subscribe