Go out and listen to something…

March 31, 2010

Shanghai Normal University; East China Normal University

Filed under: Education, music, travel, China Tour 6 — burnett @ 4:11 am

     Today was the first day of work for the U.S. Consulate supported programs.  We began at Shanghai Normal University in a terrific venue with a new Hamburg concert Steinway.  Jin Ruo Wei joined me on the erhu and we sauntered through the “Parallels in Chinese and American Music History” program.  The crowd was extremely astute, including music students and faculty, and the genuine interest in the program was very moving to me personally.  Ruo Wei and I played Zhu Ying Yao Hong of Liu Tianhua in the traditional style, followed by my deranged, jazzed up version.  One of the students said he wasn’t sure he really heard Zhu Ying Yao Hong in my version, and I am afraid he had a point. 

The second venue was a younger group of students at East China Normal University.  They were very receptive and gracious, and I only wish we’d had more time for the Q&A. They had a rehearsal immediately afterward, so we had to wrap it up.  In any case, in both cases there was a great deal of inquisitiveness about jazz, and I realized that for the most part they are not aware of jazz music.  So it places more burden on me to give them an introduction that will stimulate the m to learn more.

March 30, 2010

Joey Lu at JZ

Filed under: music, China Tour 6 — burnett @ 4:47 pm

 left:  Joey Lu at JZ

Dinner was followed by a trip to JZ Club.  Pianist/arranger Joey Lu was performing with EJ Parker, Wilson Chen on alto, Hu Dan Feng on trumpet, Alec Ritz on drums.  In short, they sounded great, and Joey delivers the full package as vocalist, pianist, arranger and band leader.   She is versatile, and the arrangements that she made or borrowed were fun and energetic. Wilson Chen gets better and better every time I hear him.   He also played Ewi  and sounded just as fabulous as on alto. 

B.D.  stopped by, as well as violinist/composer Peng Fei.  Peng Fei announced that he’s won a couple of awards, both for compositions and for production.  I am presuming that the Expo is going to be an absolute goldmine for Peng Fei.  There was an after-party at a French expat’s house/art gallery.  Three guitarists were already there:  V, Etienne, and Jeremy.  There was a spread of cheeses, meats, bread and Italian wines that extended the evening in a joyous fashion until almost 3 a.m.  Etienne and Jeremy grabbed instruments and rolled through Cherokee and Bluesette in a casual virtuosic fashion.  They and EJ have a working band, Wayne’s Basement

 right:  Peng Fei, Joey Lu, BT. And the JZ wine cellar.

below:  Etienne & Jay of Wayne’s Basement

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.

March 27, 2010

On the Road: China –Shanghai, Dalian, Shenyang, Wuhan

Filed under: music, music education, travel, China Tour 6 — burnett @ 7:37 am

Tomorrow I head out for a three week tour, this time partially funded by a grant under  the U.S. State Department. 

I’m largely on my own for the usual meanderings around Shanghai for a week or so, but USSD (as it will now be called) will host 2 days in Shanghai then a series of events in the other cities.  So far, the events include the “Intro to Jazz Piano Master Class” at Conservatories, Universities and High Schools, the Lecture/ Performance “Parallels in the Histories of Chinese and American Music:  from the Street to the Concert Stage” (still trying to reduce that title to 3 words), performances at jazz clubs, (Hong Se Lian Ren 红色恋人 in Wuhan), community service at a school for the blind and a senior home, various dinners, parties and the usual parade of amazing food. 

On April 11 in Shanghai, the JZ School has scheduled the Master Class, and then the fabulous JZ Club is hosting me with EJ Parker, Chris Trzcinski, Peng Fei, and Alec Haavik for the evening from 10 p.m.

My relationship with the U.S. Consulates goes back to 1972 when I was a student in Vienna.  The Consul General was and still is a family friend, and his wife was terrified that with my life style I could possibly starve to death on their watch.  The result was an open invitation to dinner at their home, which was like an island of paradise in those dark days of Vienna.  Otherwise it was street food (mostly pork fat), Schrammelbrot and Topfengolatschen.  Nothing wrong with that, now that I think about it.

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