Burnett Thompson Blog

April 22, 2011

Wrapping it up in Wuhan

Filed under: music, music education, restaurants, China Tour 7 — burnett @ 5:59 pm

The last event of the Wuhan trip was a party at the Renaissance Hotel celebrating their anniversary.  As a guest of the U.S. Consulate, I was treated to some fabulous food and a good bit of entertainment.  Earlier in the day, a couple hours at the university included sharing some of the jazz teaching method with a teacher, Ming Yue,  who understood things very quickly. 

April 21, 2011

Wuhan: 武汉黄鹤楼 Yellow Crane Tower

Filed under: travel, restaurants, food, China Tour 7 — burnett @ 8:47 am

Today was just a lovely day of touring the Wuhan Yellow Crane Tower and gardens, preceded and followed by various Wuhan cuisine specialties.  Wuhan is somewhere between Shanghai and Sichuan, meaning myriad flavors and some quite spicy hot.  Including the marvelous 辣的跳, a very spicy and fragrant and downright flaming hot frog dish.  Also a beautiful sliced and breaded lotus dish with unusual spices graced the table at lunch, turnip in a fragrant soup, and so on.  It never ends.  I have never had a Chinese meal without a brand new dish I’ve not before seen or tasted at some point during the feast.  My hosts were Wang Meng, Ming Yue, and Yun Song. 

 

April 8, 2010

Wuhan day 3

Filed under: music education, travel, restaurants, China Tour 6 — burnett @ 8:38 am

 The food of they day?  Yes, smoked donkey.  I swear, I ate smoked donkey.  It was actually called “Donkey in Red Oil”  and I recommend it.  Jianghan University hosted this particular repast.

I had the pleasure of meeting the leadership, students,  and faculty of Jianghan University, a school of 40,000 students.  The students in the lecture numbered around 350 and were largely music education undergrads.  They were an extremely receptive crowd, and we had a great time.  I was joined by a marvelous erhu player, Wang Meng Laoshi.  The Q & A afterwards was lively and regrettably we were cut short by time constraints.  The lecture was followed by the intro to Jazz Piano class, attended by 15 students or so.  I am finally getting the Mandarin words together for the musical technical terms, and could almost deliver this class in Chinese.  Next time.  We had limited time and focused on one aspect of the method, namely putting together a set of quartal harmonies that may be applied to most pop and jazz standards. 

photo lower: erhu soloist and teacher at Jianghan Univ. Wang Meng

March 30, 2010

Shanghai: on the Ground

Filed under: music, travel, restaurants, China Tour 6 — burnett @ 4:36 pm

 left:  Siberia on a clear day from United Fl.835

A couple hours after landing at the airport (March 29) , I arrived  at my favorite hotel in Shanghai (few would call this their favorite:  it’s a small unrated hotel.  I am in the luxury suite at 256Y -$35-).  Luxury means a “wood” floor, double bed, a desk, chair, two lamps, modern bathroom, a tv and space  to hang about 15 items. 

I take the maglev, subway, and taxi to the hotel.  Maglev takes a few minutes for the main 25km run from the airport to the city, and the subway is 10 stops from the hotel neighborhood, followed by a 5 minute cab ride.  The catch is that, like New York, the subway is not luggage-friendly.  You often find yourself carrying bags up flights of staircases and being required to pull them through turnstiles.  Now mind you, the maglev and subway are relatively new, very clean, and operated smoothly and efficiently.  But the luggage thing really is an unwelcome exercise after all the flying. 

I reached M. E., booking manager for the jazz club, and he was coincidentally quite hungry.  Thus began a trip to Southern Barbarian, a popular new Yunnan cuisine restaurant.  The roasted fish was the star of the dinner, accompanied by fried goat cheese, bok choy, sautéed flower buds, grilled eggplant, fried noodle platter, etc.  They also had a pricy European beer menu.  I chose the Qingdao at 18Y, already too pricy for my wallet.  I pride myself on going to the local restaurants where feasts like this one run $10 for two people.  This is not one of those restaurants.  We split the tab 4 ways at 120Y per head.  We were joined by trumpeter JQ  and friend J.  I wanted to hear about Expo, and got the preliminary judgments:  October will be the biggest month, hosting 30M people.  Logisitics are impossible to predict, and there are big plans that will fall into place at the very last minute.  Or not.  It is believed that this will create steady work for the musicians, since hundreds of corporations and countries and hosting a relentless parade of entertainment for 6 months.  However, reading that not even long umbrellas and bottled water will be allowed through security, I am just imagining what a keyboard or double bass will invite in terms of sheer hassle of transport.  Of course there are already stories about the usual official top-down approvals and the lack of communication, verification, for which the powers are famous.

July 6, 2008

Finally: Pastry Xpo in MY neighborhood

Filed under: restaurants, food — burnett @ 5:37 pm

 

Yes, we finally have an excellent cafe in the neighborhood, Pastry Xpo.  Beautiful French delicacies and cakes, and superb coffee.  I just hope it lasts.  They offer samples every morning, and I could sustain myself on those alone.  It is a very high end pastry shop, and a real treasure for the neighborhood… Just have a look at the rave from the Washington Post this week.

January 16, 2008

A remarkable lunch in Shanghai

Filed under: music, restaurants, China Tour 3 — burnett @ 12:45 am

We had the honor and surprise privilege of being invited to the 80th birthday party of a remarkable artist here in Shanghai,  Zhou Hao, who has taught many of the important erhu performers in China today.  As is customary, there was an enormous feast of several varieties of fish, shrimp, scallops, pork, several duck dishes, soups, vegetables, and on and on.  Mr. Zhou himself gave an impromptu performance of “Reflecting Moonlight on the Waters.”  In attendance was a who’s-who of erhu performers and professors in Shanghai, including of course Ma Xiaohui. 

In the photo: Kiera Thompson, Xiaohui, Jiu Hao, Burnett

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