Eminent corporate figure and former banker Tan Sri Razman Hashim can really swing it on the stage!
In his 70s and having had no vocal lessons, he is a born singer although he humbly declares that he’s fortunate to have a professional band of musicians willing to back him on stage.
Despite his age, this Frank Sinatra fan has an incredibly “young” voice that belies his age. He delivers his tunes so effortlessly, naturally and impeccably.
If not for this recent interview, I would not have guessed his age just from listening to his CD, Come Swing With Me, which he gifted me. I would not have guessed that he is a Malaysian and not a Westerner.
On June 17, 2011, he was appointed to the Board of Sunway. Presently, Razman is Sunway Group’s executive deputy chairman. He is also on the Board of Trustees for the Selangor Symphony Orchestra.
Razman has more than 38 years’ experience in the banking industry. For 35 years, he was with Standard Chartered Bank, and worked in their offices in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. He retired in June 1999. In same month, he was appointed as chairman of MBF Finance Berhad by Bank Negara Malaysia as its nominee until January 2002 when MBF was sold to the Arab-Malaysian Group.
Razman said that although he has liked music since his early teens, he is very selective about what he listens to or sings.
“I don’t understand the music of today. I don’t know what they’re singing or shouting about,” said Penang-born Razman, who prefers “old jazz”. His favourite singers include Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Louis Armstrong. “When they sing, the listener can feel the passion in their voices.” Razman likes music with good lyrics that tell a story.
He got into singing quite by chance. He said: “I was at a friend’s place and he was practising on his keyboard. He played a tune I knew so I started singing. He then invited me to sing with him – and that’s how I got started.”
Over 10 years ago, Razman sang for the first time in public. It was at an event called Tribute To Sinatra at No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur’s leading jazz bar. Another show he did was Remembering Sinatra. Thereafter, requests came in for him to sing – which he did, and he enjoyed it!
In the past, Razman took part in several charity concerts, including the Alzheimer’s concert a few years ago where he sang with accompaniment by The World Orchestra. He has also performed with the Selangor Philharmonic Orchestra.
A memorable moment was when his jazz CD (containing his rendition of Sinatra’s songs) was launched in the presence of the Sultan of Perak and the Sultan of Selangor. Collections were made in favour of Mercy Malaysia and Yayasan Chow Kit.
Razman, who is also Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Trustee, will be performing at the Foundation’s An Evening Of Jazz With Razman concert on Sunday, at Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, accompanied by The Seasons 4, The Big Jazz Band of Lewis Pragasam, and Prof Don Bowyer. These are internationally acclaimed artistes who have performed in the international arena.
It will be Razman’s first concert with the Sunway Group, and some 300 guests are expected to attend. Said Razman: “I am proud and humbled that the sought-after and well-known musicians are playing for me as they would play for top artistes.”
The VIPs of the night will be the Sultan of Selangor and the Sultan of Perak. Funds raised with be donated to Mercy Malaysia for the Palu Relief Fund.
(More than 300,000 people of Palu, Sulawesi, were displaced due to the earthquake and tsunami recently. It was reported that about 400 lives were lost, with hundreds more injured. There are still a lot of families who do not have electricity, proper housing or enough food.)
A big fan of Sinatra’s, Razman counted himself “very fortunate” to have heard his icon sing live, twice.
In 1961, then a student in Australia, Razman bought himself a ticket to Sinatra’s concert. “I booked the most expensive front-seat ticket using my entire month’s allowance. I had to wash plates in a Chinese restaurant for three weeks to make up for it, but it was worth it,” he recalled.
In the late 70s, Razman, a working young man, caught Sinatra’s show in Las Vegas in the United States.
Razman does not practise his singing for hours before going on stage and neither has he gone for any voice training. His has a natural talent for singing.
In the old days, he would go to the karaoke with friends. “But not now,” he said, as he is too busy.
Aside from music, he loves collecting artworks (particularly abstract works). He has about 30 old artworks by several local artists, mostly collected before they became famous. In his collection are works of Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, Datuk Sharifah Fatimah, Yusof Ghani, Khalil Ibrahim and Tan Choon Ghee.
After a hard day’s work, Razman has his dinner, watches the news, and then “plays his music softly”. “When I listen to my music, I give it my full concentration until I fall asleep,” he quipped, adding that music is a way of de-stressing and he finds it very relaxing.