Sunday, June 18, 2017

Louis Soliano Singapore Jazz Legend: By Melanie Lee

The article below about drummer/singer Louis Soliano and written by Melanie Lee is published with both their permission. It is the most popular story online these past few months and taken from *SEACG Website. 
Thank you, Louis and Melanie.

I grew up in a family of professional musicians. I was taught piano and violin since the age of five, but I was more interested in playing games. However, when I was 14, I accompanied my dad, a multi-instrumentalist, to a studio recording for a silent movie at Jalan Ampas. It was there that I fell in love with drumming after I heard the drummer playing.

With that interest, my father showed me how to play the drums, and how it can be the loudest and softest instrument at the same time. I would practise at home, and the neighbours would complain about how noisy I was. By 16, I was already playing professionally in places such as the Cathay Restaurant, Golden Venus Bar, and Seaview Hotel.

'S Wonderful (George Gershwin) by Louis Soliano @ Paragon (20 Oct 11) (HD)

In 1966, I was working with my Uncle Alfonso Soliano’s band at Chao Phya Hotel in Bangkok. There was an American officers’ club at the hotel and I was spotted by an American entertainment agent. He offered me a gig to perform at American military bases in Vietnam for US$700 a week. 
I thought that was a good pay, but it was only when I got there that I found out that we would have to perform three shows a night at each military base — that meant 21 shows in a week!
In the three years, I was in Vietnam, I was always on the road travelling from one base to another. Gunshots were heard daily everywhere, and I had to carry a revolver myself for protection. Sometimes, when we played, we could hear heavy shelling and gunshots in the background. But we were young — we had energy and were not afraid of anything.
Today, I’m a father of four and a grandfather of six. Many of my friends have passed away and some are in old folks’ homes. I thank God that I’m still able to live another day doing what I love. I keep trying to grow myself. I hope to do a big-band concert in the future, working with young musicians in Singapore. I’m so glad to see how jazz here has grown with all this new talent.
At the end of the day, I hope that the great songs I bring to my audiences take them back to a special time or place in their lives.

Seventy-five-year-old jazz veteran Louis Soliano has been performing drums and vocals for 60 years in Singapore and around the world. He is considered one of the top drummers in this region and his vocal style is often compared to that of Johnny Hartman and Nat King Cole. 

Soliano has played alongside many famous musicians, including Stan Getz, Lea Salonga, Matt Monro and Anita O’Day. In 1997, he took home the Artistic Excellence Award by the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS) and in 2014, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival. He released his solo album Improm2 in 2004.

Anita O'Day, Matt Monro, Lea Salonga, Stan Getz appeared with Louis Soliano.

"Singapore Jazz Legend Louis Soliano Improvises 
Life And Music."

By Melanie Lee (image right ). Article from:
*Singapore's Essential Arts and Culture Guide:

Images: Google
Video: YouTube 
By Red Taurus

May Not Be Complete Louis Soliano Awards:

Gene Krupa of Singapore Trophy.

Compass Artistic Excellence Award for his outstanding musicianship.

He released his solo album Improm2.

FLCM (Fellowship Diploma of the London College of Music) music diploma for his Percussion Performance from the University of West London, London College Of Music Examinations.

Lifetime Achievement Award from Mr Lawrence Wong, then Minister of Culture, Community and Youth at the inaugural Singapore International Jazz Festival (image).  
Louis Soliano at rest with Andy Young and Richard Khan (October Cherries drummer).

23 October 2018

Announced in the local papers that Louis Soliano won the Cultural Medallion 2018, the highest honour in arts (SG).

Congratulations Louis!


henri gann said...

A good writeup on Louis Soliano. I know the guy and he is very good. Trekker's drummer George loves Suliano's drumming and is a good friend with him. Glad you have him on your blog Andy. A very good addition to your blog for another Singapore's discreet musician.


Hi Louis,
Hope you still remember me. Congrats, best drummer and sings well too and for your information - Trio AJL (Albert Jay and Louis). Saw your group performing at the Regent Hotel, KL.


Totally agree. Louis is still the best Jazz musician in Singapore. Please convey my warmest Father's Day Greeting to him, Andy.

Thanks buddy.

FABIAN FOO said...

Louis Soliano is certainly one of our local artists and at his age, we have to salute him for his achievements in the local music scene.

Respect and Happy Father's Day to him and all Dads in Singapore.


Happy Father's Day Mr Soliano. I stayed in Bencoolen Street very close to Beng Swee Place. Have fond memories of the late Ernesto Daroya. Played soccer with him at St. Joseph's field.

JAMES KWOK said...

May all you wonderful dads enjoy a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY.


Thanks for LIKING article
Ravi G Ganesan
Romito Mendoza
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Davychandavy Chan
Nyonya Jenny Yeo
Joe Peters
Leslie Wilson Joseph
Jalani Mohamed
Alphonso Soosay
John Cher
Cedric Cork
Merlin Lim
Tommy Gomes
Benson Francis
Reginald Campbell
Gilbert Foo
Dicky Low


Louis Soliano is the Gene Krupa of Singapore for winning the drumming contest in conjunction with the Gene Krupa Story movie

BERT FERN said...

Good Morning family and friends. May God Bless You on this beautiful day and keep you safe in the palm of his hands.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

He showed me his WINNING TROPHY. He is the GENE KRUPA OF SINGAPORE. Thank you, Stephen.

I'd like to thank everyone for the response to Louis Soliano's story.


Born in Kedah to a Filipino father and Vietnamese-Chinese mother, he hails from an illustrious family of musicians. His father Paul was a travelling musician who played various instruments and the family moved to Singapore when Soliano was about eight years old. Veteran musician and former head of the now-defunct SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) Orchestra, Rufino Soliano, 84, is his cousin.

At the age of seven, Soliano's father taught him the violin while an uncle gave him piano lessons. But it was at the age of 10 that he truly fell in love with an instrument - the drums.


At the height of the Vietnam war, he found himself backing artistes like Jane Russell and Bette Davis as they entertained the US troops.
Returning to Singapore in 1973, Louis Soliano made waves like his Louis Soliano Trio playing commercial Jazz in Singapore clubs and South East Asia. He then played drums and percussion with the SBC Orchestra for 10 years and was a regular feature at the Singapore International Jazz Festival in the '80s.


Louis Soliano spends a significant part of his profession collaborating with numerous international and local music personalities such as Jerry Soliano, Alfonso Soliano, Stan Getz, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Bassey, Dakota Staton, Anita O’Day, Bobby Tucker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Eddie Lockjaw, Tony Scott, Dale Barlow, Roy Castle, Max Bygraves, Kathy Kirby, Ronnie Corbbett, Freddy Starrs, Freddie Cole, Rolf Harris, and the Platters as well as Jeremy Monteiro, Dick Lee, Jacintha Abisheganaden, Francis Yip, Roman Tamn, Lea Solonga and Gracie Raveria. His tours include cities such as Paris, Hong Kong, London, Australia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Louis Soliano has also represented Singapore at several international jazz festivals including the Jakarta JakJazz Festival in 1991, where he led the ASEAN all-stars group and has been invited to participate in the famed WOMAD and Mosaic Festival in Singapore. Furthermore, he has toured as the featured percussionist with Asiana performing in Seattle, San Francisco, as well as at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 1995.


Congratulations to Louis Soliano on the Cultural Medallion Award.Attended a numbers of your performances and enjoyed your singing and drumming.I first saw you when you won the Gene Krupa contest at the Cathay Cinema.Hope you had recovered from your frozen shoulder and continue playing on the drums.