By Anamika Ragu (23A01A), Chung Thong En (22S06N), and Noh Sangeun (23S06Q)
“I hope the audience enjoys this,” said Keith Chan (23S06Q) minutes before the performance began, backstage buzzing with all the pent-up nerves of performers who hadn’t properly been on-stage for at least two years. As the clock ticked down, the PAC gradually filled up, a hum of anticipation in the air for performers and people alike.
Setting the Tone
The evening kicked off with a familiar tune from the Arts Assembly: Moanin’.
Playing on the song’s call and response melody, the instruments joined in one by one, coalescing into a growing symphony. The spotlight expanded from a small circle on the piano to a large swathe of light illuminating the entire stage, our anticipation only growing with the cheers and “I love you!”s that erupted from the audience as the light fell on each band member.
For the second piece, Castaways, The lights shifted to a tropical pink hue, and Ng Jing Wei (22S03C) ’s lilting voice guided us through this hypnotic piece.
To sustain the whimsy saturating the Performing Arts Centre, the lights turned a dreamy purple, for a rendition of Misty. The song gave every instrument a time to shine, from the sweetness of Crystal Phoon (22S06M)’s keys, to the melancholy of Lim Wei Shen (22S07B)’s guitar, to the mellifluence of Benjamin Yong (23S03G)’s cello.
Getting in the Mood
Next, Lullaby of Birdland started with a playful drum beat, taking the audience through a charming rendition of the song.
The curtains then closed, leaving the audience to an intimate performance of Tonight You Belong. Meira joined Jing Wei as a vocalist with Alyssa Boo (22S06G) on the ukulele; together, the soothing harmony filled the room.
Jeevika, our next vocalist, came onstage with Otsuki Risa (23S03P) and Estelle Loo En (23A01E) on the saxophones, Keith on the piano, Joel Satria Sjarifudin (22S03F) on the bass, and Claire Chin (23A01D) on the drums, to sweep us off our feet with Shiny Stockings.
Our Hearts and Stomachs Are Full to Bursting
Whoever wrote the programme booklet clearly had food on the mind, from all the metaphors peppered throughout. The next few songs were indeed a feast to behold. Two new vocalists, Kennis Tan (23S03P) and Low Yi Ker (23S03O), arrived on stage to raucous applause. Starting off with a beautiful rendition of Heart and Soul, the contrasting registers of the two vocalists and the duet between the cello and violin came together in a harmony of flavours.
Next was a roving rendition of Almost There from the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, transforming it into a high-energy duet.
The next song threw energy levels into yet another high as the band dug into their main course, The Chicken. Served big band-style with a groovy beat and the spicy playing of a trumpet, clarinet and two-saxophone quartet, Jazz indulged the audience in a hearty, filling performance.
Je suis Français — et Très Très Romantique
Having successfully whizzed us through Portugal with Triste, Jazz ferried us away to an Afternoon in Paris.
The CCA arranged the sunny piece to include arcade-esque beeps and hums, and the audience had to “hold onto our berets” as the “undoubtedly fun song sent us skipping down the alleyways of France”, just as the programme booklet described.
Next up was La Vie en Rose, or “Life in Pink”. The background turned a brilliant pink as Jing Wei, Benjamin, and Gene stepped onstage to show us Jazz’s interpretation of this jazz classic. Alongside gentle guitar strums and a sweet piano melody, Jing Wei’s incredibly melodious voice swept us through the saccharine romance of seeing beauty in the everyday.
Final Shades of Sunset
Then came Summertime, with Meira’s strong and soothing vocals carrying forward the laissez-faire emotive of easy living.
This was followed by a humorous skit prior to their highly entertaining performance of “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off”, both a lighthearted caricature and celebration of concessions made in the name of love.
Afterwards, Jazz performed a piece we all know and love: Just The Two Of Us.
Just as the performance ended and the lights on-stage dimmed, the audience was far from satisfied. Shouts of, “Encore! Encore!” filled the PAC. Noah returned, donning a giddy smile and asking his CCA-mates backstage, “Encore?”
Out came all of Raffles Jazz, with Jing Wei and Jeevika vocalising their version of, “Love never felt so good”, Risa on the saxophone, with a side order of chicken, on the house.
The rest of the CCA danced behind the performers, enjoying the music in the moment.
Meira, recounting their many rehearsals together, said: “There’s this moment when everything feels right. We’re all communicating in the mood, we’re all in sync, and we’re just jamming with everyone.” This was one of those moments.
It is difficult to conceive that this concert may not have been a reality; according to Chairperson Jing Wei, fighting for the concert itself was “quite a tortuous experience”.
In fact, by the time the concert was finally confirmed, there was only a month left for the CCA to plan the entire concert and practise everything together. “I think we were very worried about the short timeline,” expressed Alyssa.
“Before that we only did recordings so we weren’t sure if we would be able to pull it off too,” she added. Needless to say, they did more than pull it off, and as Raffles Jazz took their very last bow, they were met with well-deserved standing ovations.
“My initial impression of jazz was… elevator music. But this is probably one of the best performances I have attended.”Sadanala Satya Rohit (23S06Q)
Most audience members were reeling with a similar post-performance high. Many made their way to their friends who had performed to take photos and offer them flowers.
“It was the best experience ever,” sighed Jing Wei, as she reminisced on her last concert with Raffles Jazz. Indeed, many of us felt the same.
Ng Jing Wei (22S03C)
Chan Wee Chia (22S03L)
Liu Fang (23S03O)
Kennis Tan Qin Yi (23S03P)
Low Yi Ker (23S03O)
Jeevika Meyappan (23S03C)
Lim Le Kiat, Noah (Clarinetist) (22S07A)
Benjamin Yong Ming-Wei (Cellist) (23S03G)
Estelle Loo En (Saxophonist) (23A01E)
Otsuki Risa (Saxophonist) (23S03P)
Ryan Lee Wee Bin (22S06P)
Lee Jin Han, Meira (22S06A)
Phoon Choy Yee, Crystal (22S06M)
Qian Zihan (23S06C)
Chan Soong-Lin Keith (23S06Q)
Kuah Gene Qhee (22S03C)
Boo Xuan Pei Alyssa (22S06G)
Lim Wei Shen (22S07B)
Keevan Nash Ganasen (23S06B)
Zou Jiayue (22S03O)
Joel Satria Sjarifudin (22S03F)
Ng Shan Mei (22S03C)
Chin Hui Ning Claire (23A01D)