Introducing: Chok Kerong

Be in good company this Friday at the Esplanade, as jazz pianist Chok Kerong will be playing original pieces from his album as well as re-imagined standards. Before your prepare for your night of high-culture, we had a little chat with Chok Kerong himself on his inspirations, New York and all that jazz. 

Hi Chok Kerong, introduce yourself!

I’m a Singaporean pianist and hammond organist, and have been involved in music professionally for about 9 years now.

When/How did you get into Jazz?

I was introduced to jazz during one of my piano lessons - my teacher brought in a score of “Spain”, the well-known tune by Chick Corea. It really piqued my curiosity, and I started to buy recordings by Chick, Bill Evans, Miles Davis etc.

What do you think of the Jazz scene in Singapore?

There was a time when there were no jazz jam sessions going on at all - I’m glad to see that now we have open sessions happening at Blujaz Cafe and the new Sultan Jazz Club. It looks like the scene is bouncing back!

Jazz is not a ‘go to’ genre for the young music enthusiasts in Singapore, what (songs/artists) would be a good introduction for people looking to get into Jazz?

I do remember a few albums hitting me on a purely visceral level the first time I heard them:

Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil

Michael Brecker - Two Blocks from the Edge

McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy

Keith Jarrett - Tokyo ‘96

Jimmy Smith - Organ Grinder Swing

Your album is called Good Company, tell us the 5 people you would like to collaborate the most with. 

I love the music of Maxwell, Dwele, Brian Blade, Sonny Rollins and Earth Wind and Fire - but honestly, simply being in the same room with these artists would be good enough for me!

What can we expect from Friday’s performance?

There’s going to be a lot of original music, and some pieces are brand new! The programme has quite a bit of variety in it, I’m going to be alternating between organ and piano.

What is next for Chok Kerong?

I’m going to continue to write more music. When the compositions are ready, I hope to put a new album together.

For our mixtape instalment, name us the 5 songs (any genre) that you identify with New York. 

1. John Coltrane - Central Park West

2. Vernon Duke - Autumn in New York (Bill Charlap’s recording is great)

3. Peter Nero - Sunday in New York (I would recommend Shirley Horn’s recording)

4. Jeremy Pelt - Clairvoyant

5. Herbie Hancock - The Sorcerer

1,2,3 don’t really need explanation. I chose Clairvoyant and the Sorcerer because the moods really remind me of the edginess of the city.

You spent quite some time in New York, what is your most fond memory of the place?

I really enjoyed spending time exploring the museums, walking around Central Park and of course soaking up all the fantastic live music. It’s a really special place.

Details of Esplanade Late Nite specials: Good Company HERE

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