Go out and listen to something…

May 1, 2011

Shanghai: My Landiao

Filed under: Art, travel, China Tour 7 — burnett @ 9:54 pm

On Wukang Lu you can find a small entrance, easy to miss, that houses the boutique of Lan She, proprietor of My Landiao.  Lan She  greets her customers as guests and numerous friends stop by just to say hello. A native of Guizhou, Lan She oversees a  collection of Guizhou clothing, handmade paper, and stunning handcrafted silver jewelry.  Her store is as much museum as storefront.  She introduced me to music from Guizhou, a very unusual vocal style, with unusual falling glissandos.  The music and artifacts may be found at www.mylandiao.com .

April 29, 2011

Shakespeare Sonnet Cycle in Shanghai

Filed under: Art, music, travel, China Tour 7 — burnett @ 1:45 am

Tonight:  The Song Cycle premieres at Two Cities Gallery in Shanghai. Music composed by Burnett Thompson.  Translation:  Janet Tan  

Today’s  Global Times:  Burnett Thompson, a noted jazz pianist and composer from Washington D.C., is just one of many who have professed a lifelong passion of the Bard’s professions of love. However, his own appreciation rings with a unique note all of its own. Thompson has spent 15 years developing a song cycle inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets…more  The Sonnet Cycle was born out of a long sequence of bardophilia, documented at www.SilentShakespeare.com  The song cycle includes a Salsa, a couple of Rock n Roll tunes, Viennese song form, jazz, and two songs written in traditional Chinese style, featuring erhu solo. 

Front page of Smart Shanghai:  Tonight at Two Cities, he’s doing the Sonnets, translated into Mandarin and performed with Coco Zhao assuming vocal duties. This is really great stuff…more

Audio Previews:  Sonnet 66 at Central China Univ. in Wuhan

Sonnet 127  at Youku and at Youtube  Video:  Lena Seikaly, Marshall Keys, Eric Wheeler

The performance here in Shanghai features the remarkable vocalist Coco Zhao, saxophonist Wilson Chen, erhu soloist Jin Ruo Wei, bassist EJ Parker, Drummer Chris Trzcinski and the blogger at the piano.

April 26, 2011

Shanghai: Food

Filed under: Art, music, travel, food, China Tour 7 — burnett @ 8:15 pm


Last night it was a new, and now my favorite, restaurant called Lucky Zen & Veg, a Bhuddist restaurant on Ma Dang Lu.  I was the guest of my very good friends Zhang Cong Mei and Ai Ling, and we had a feast.  Everything from the orange blossom tea to the soup, mushroom and cashews, limas and cashews, hot pepper beans and filo tofu, shredded filo tofu with ginger, etc, etc.  Very delicate, light, and wonderful flavors.  

Later stopped by JZ to hear my current favorite talent, Joey Lu.  Joey is an exciting pianist, a confident and stylish singer.  I can’t say I’ve seen anyone recently with her presence, bandleading ability, vocal talents, and immaculate command of the piano.  Of course, she had the  ’super trio’ behind her of Sean Higgins, Mike Hicks and the Chris Trzcinski. 

There is always something to see in the street here, and the moment can be so intimate, that I hesitate to take a photo.  I got past that for the “toilet on a bike” scene.  Convenience is everything in China, so why not a loo on the bicycle?  Save those time-consuming roadside stops.

My hotel, the Yesinn, is under renovation.  So I am in a construction site.  I’ve stayed here for 5 years, and don’t have the motivation to leave.  There are a handful of people still staying there, and we eye each other nervously in the elevator, wondering  what kind of person would remain in such a dreadful environment.  But aside from the wet concrete on the hallway floor, the power tools on the steps and the jack-hammer at 7:30 a.m. sharp, what’s to complain about?

photos:  BT & Zhang CongMei, Mike Hicks, Joey Lu, Chris Trzcinski, Sean Higgins’ elbow, bike vendor, bike loo


July 11, 2008

Sackler Gallery interpreted by Roshna Kapadia

Filed under: Art — burnett @ 6:08 am

   The Mughal India exhibit at the Sackler Gallery is a tough one to decipher.  Unless, of course, you get the tour from Smithsonian docent Roshna Kapadia.  At that point, the context, symbolism, politics and artistic content come alive.  In fact, I will make a point of catching all of Roshna’s tours and recommend that all of you do the same.  She has deep understanding and passion for the subject.    

 Muraqqa’ Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library

Say “Mughal India ,” and the first image to pop up in anyone’s mind is the Taj Mahal.  Currently on view at the Sackler Gallery of Art in Washington DC , you can see miniature paintings from the ateliers of Emperor Shah Jahan (who had the marmoreal mausoleum built), his father, Jehangir, and grandfather, Akbar among other royal notables.  This collection, on loan (more…)

May 23, 2008

Sangbok Lee in Georgetown

Filed under: Art — burnett @ 8:40 am

Sangbok Lee is showing her works Georgetown Art Gallery in Washington, DC.  In her words:  “In recent years most of my paintings have been developed by using modally abstracted images. These images have been developed from my traditional value of Nature which is based on the far Eastern Asian culture. I believe that I have developed a style which is unique for producing these abstract images using Hanji, a Korean traditional paper that has several hundred years of history.  My feelings are expressed in the delicately spreading colors and the creation of textures, and spiritual contemplation is expressed on my canvas.”

I had the pleasure of visiting the gallery yesterday.  Indeed, Sangbok weaves a delicate, sinuous web, a highly refined style to express simple philosophical concepts.  Her works are meticulously crafted, with subtle use of color.  The website photos do a good job of representing the variegations in the paper, so have a look.

January 23, 2008

Zhang ZongMei revisited

Filed under: Art, China Tour 3 — burnett @ 4:35 am


I took my daughter Kiera to Moganshan Lu, the warehouse art district, hoping to give her an idea of the voluminous, creative,  and highly skilled world of new Chinese art.  We soon landed back at the studio of  my favorite, Zhang ZongMei (website)  I wrote about him before , so please see the previous entry for some important perspective.  His student Ai Lin was also in today, so we had fun catching up.  Zhang has recently returned from a tour of a community in southwest China near the Tibetan border.  He had a few hundred frames of photos from the region, ranging from stark landscapes to multiple shots of people in the villages.  (more…)

August 10, 2007

Blonde Redhead in Baltimore August 8, 2007

Filed under: Art, music — burnett @ 10:17 am

Blonde Redhead, including Kazu Makino, Amadeo and Simone Pace, appeared this week at the Ram’s Head in Baltimore.� I was looking forward to this concert for some time. I stood right� at the lip of the stage a foot from the keyboard, so the sound was not good.� I heard only a fragment of the vocals and very little of the keyboard.� But as anyone will relate, the energy upfront is well worth the loss in audio, which I know anyway from the recordings.� The drums were very clear from that spot, and I had a great chance to witness Simone’s calculated, consistent percussion riffs behind the tunes.�

He� uses 2 measure patterns, i.e. 1&2&3&4& 1&2&3&4&� � …and the like.� It is very intelligent drumming and makes for a secure fabric underneath the tune.� (more…)

July 15, 2007

National Portrait Museum in Washington, DC

Filed under: Art — burnett @ 8:21 pm

I finally got to the National Portrait Museum today.� It has been open a year now since its renovation.� It was always a favorite for somewhat obscure, and, well, American Art.

� Today I checked out the folk art collection and the modern portrait collection, then the old collection of American portraits.� It is hard to convey how seductive this museum is.� Nothing there is famous, with the exception of the portrait of Ben Franklin.� Everything else requires some scrutiny to understand just why it it there.

A significant portion of the collection includes� good ol’ Americans who owned a significant chunk of human flesh known as slaves.� � Another group became famous for eviscerating and slaughtering the civilization that lived here before 1600.� I kept asking myself when “King” Carter, General Custer and others would finally be recognized as some of the great criminals of all time like Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Caesar, etc.� The Virginians especially caught my attention because the underlying assumption was that without hundreds of slaves on their plantations, they would have been TV repairmen.�

� But lets move on to Paul Manship.� To my delight and surprise, there is an extensive exhibit of Manship’s bronzes.� I had only seen his sensual � work at the National� Gallery of Art.� I have always wanted a Manship in my living room, but that is not likely.� I discovered today that he was on the board of the American Portrait Gallery, and was a conservative influence on the choice of acquisitions.� (go figure)� Anyway, I love his work, and I will go back to the gallery for many reasons, but one will be to review the� Manship pieces there.� This one below is� “Diana” at the� National Gallery of Art:

May 20, 2007

Blonde Redhead

Filed under: Art, music, film — burnett @ 10:21 pm

This trio has been around for 12 yrs or so, and it is time to have a listen.� Put on headphones and visit:

VIDEOS� � � Start with Equus and then try 23.
All Lyrics
MYSPACE site� The Blonde Redhead� includes 4 tunes:� 23, The Dress, Elephant Woman and Silently
Boston Globe article May, 2007
Quality live performance of Misery is A Butterfly

Don’t forget the headphones.� There is a lot going on in these studio recordings.� Kazu Makino� has the unmistakable characteristics of a tragic icon.

April 14, 2007

The tea in China

Filed under: Art, food, China Tour 2 — burnett @ 6:09 am

Pu-er is my favorite tea.� It is good for the digestion, easy on the tummy and has a good, dark flavor.� I first had it in January in Shanghai and then ordered some from a company called Adagio Tea here in the U.S.� Their tea (expensive) � smelled and tasted like rotten spinach, so when I went back to China, I stopped in a tea shop to see if my perceptions had been misstaken.� The shop owner invited me to be seated, and graciously tolerated my mandarin while I inquired about the teas.� She gave me a few pours, and I left with a few ounces of Pu-er.� (more…)

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