Blu Jaz Cafe arguably the most accessible jazz music venue in Singapore’s history
Since it was revealed that Blu Jaz Cafe’s public entertainment licence was cancelled, various parties have stepped forward to offer their views on the venue.
The community members from We Love Jazz SG, an arts organisation, hope that our views — grounded in our work as musicians and educators as well as in historical research — may add constructively to this ongoing conversation and, perhaps, provide greater insights about the music scene in Singapore.
We believe that venues such as Blu Jaz are important, and we hope that it can continue its music programming.
For one, we believe that the cafe-bar has helped to add vibrancy to Singapore over the past few years. Its popularity is an indicator of that.
Then, if you look at the development of the jazz music scene in Singapore, Blu Jaz is particularly noteworthy.
By 1965, when Singapore became independent, jazz practitioners here had already begun conceiving the music not just as dance music but art music. There were about 10 to 15 notable venues offering jazz programming in Singapore, such as the Golden Venus in the 1960s, the Jockey Pub in the 1970s, and the Somerset’s Bar at the former Westin Hotel in the 1980s.
Comparatively, Blu Jaz, which opened in 2005, has had one of the longest tenures of jazz programming in Singapore — with the former jam session at Harry’s @ Boat Quay possibly the only venue surpassing that record.
This is all the more remarkable given how venues with jazz, not just in Singapore but internationally, tend not to be financially sustainable.
Blu Jaz has managed to buck this trend, and it has been able to do so while remaining highly accessible to Singaporean audiences.
Patrons are able to spend small sums of money — as cheap as a cup of inexpensive tea — to obtain a seat at the venue and listen to what it has scheduled for the evening.
When accessibility is defined in these terms, Blu Jaz is arguably the most accessible venue with jazz programming to have existed in Singapore’s history.
It is for these reasons that we believe Blu Jaz is a gem of a venue, and we hope that these points can enrich the ongoing discussion surrounding the nightspot.