Go out and listen to something…

April 29, 2011

Shanghai Sonnets: The Concert, April 29, 2011 Two Cities Modern Art Gallery

Filed under: music, China Tour 7, China — burnett @ 11:34 pm

Click here for the full Concert on Youtube 

Listen to the entire concert:
Sonnet 147, Sonnet 127,
Sonnet 154, Sonnet 8,
Sonnet 24, Sonnet 141,
Sonnet 128,Sonnet 54,
Sonnet 66,Sonnet 138

Article in Global Times: Global Times,
Interview at Smart Shanghai: Smart Shanghai                                                                                                   
Personnel:  Jin Ruo Wei, erhu; Chen Jia Jun, alto and soprano sax; EJ Parker, bass; Chris Trzcinski, drums; Burnett Thompson, Pianist.
Text by William Shakespeare.  Mandarin Chinese translation by Janet Tan.  Music composed by Burnett Thompson.



Shakespeare Sonnet Cycle in Shanghai

Filed under: Art, music, travel, China Tour 7, China — 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, China — 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


April 24, 2011

Shanghai: Clean Air

Filed under: Education, music, music education, travel, China Tour 7, China — burnett @ 8:41 pm

Just kidding.  But compared to Wuhan, the air is at least breatheable.  Kicking off the usual sequence of dinners, coffees, hanging out, rehearsals, etc.  You never know whom you will meet in this city, like NY but more international…if that is possible.  Managed to catch Coco Zhao at JZ Club, led the Intro to Jazz Piano at the JZ School.  The photos:  Intro to Jazz Piano, a bunch of Brits at dinner, Coco & Huang Jianyi at JZ, and the ARt Deco Paramount Theater in Shanghai, Byron Wu & friends 

April 22, 2011

Wrapping it up in Wuhan

Filed under: music, music education, restaurants, China Tour 7, China — 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, China — 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 20, 2011

Wuhan: 华中师范大学的音乐会

Filed under: music, music education, China Tour 7, China — burnett @ 9:34 pm

I arrived the other day in Wuhan with no particular agenda, but that changed in a New York minute when a concert was planned at Central China Normal University Music School.  I was joined by my old colleague Wang Meng 老师, and a wonderful opera student, Tang Jiu Qi,  who sang Sonnet 66 from the Sonnet Song Cycle. (listen to this remarkable performance here ) The faculty, including Prof. Tian Xiaobao, Prof. Zang, Prof.  Zhang and  others, hosted the most gracious dinner afterwards.  The concert program included a couple of quickly assembled arrangements of a tango and bossa nova for erhu and piano, Er Quan Ying Yue 二泉映月, and new approaches to music of Liu Tianhua and the inevitable Sai Ma 赛马。  

April 13, 2010

Dalian: Old House Jazz Bar

Filed under: music, travel, China Tour 6, China — burnett @ 5:57 pm

A delightful surprise in Dalian arrived in the form of the family of Ding Cheng, including his wife Wan Xiang Ling, daughter Wan Hui, son Ding Yi and their colleague Da Jian on drums.  They were performing standards in an  upscale bar next to the Shangrila Hotel.  I had the pleasure of sitting in on a few tunes and we were greeted with great enthusiasm.  A highlight of the evening was Wan Hui’s singing of Autumn Leaves which she delivered with great passion and style. 

April 10, 2010

Wuhan Day 4, part III

Filed under: music, travel, China Tour 6, China — burnett @ 10:01 pm

The final performance in Wuhan was on the outdoor stage at Wuhan Tian Di, a beautifully restored commercial and arts area in the center city.  There are many people to thank for making this happen, including Marina Chen of Wuhan Tian Di and Diane Sovereign, U.S. Consul General of Wuhan.  We were blessed with clear skies and 20C  air temperature for a memorable evening.  I was joined on stage by my translator and onstage foil, Mei Mei Zhao and frequent collaborateur erhu soloist Wang Meng.  It is my opinion that much of what I say on stage is amusing, but Mei Mei disagrees and translates my words in a way that guarantees complete silence from the audience.  One of these days, I will figure out how to say something funny in Mandarin Chinese.  Wang Meng and I did a different twist on our Liu Tianhua piece, and I retrofitted the traditional arrangement with an  extemporaneous “jazz” component.  We agreed that “next time” 下次我们一起做爵士 音乐。

I am already making plans to return to Wuhan.  I made many friends, and discovered yet another world of truly dedicated and accomplished musicians, educators and administrators.


Wuhan day 4, part II

Filed under: music, travel, China Tour 6, China — burnett @ 12:28 pm

We then headed to a home for seniors on the outskirts of Wuhan.  The event was quite touching in every respect.  We concluded with tea and cake in the garden.  One of the residents was convinced she could teach me Shanghai dialect, and another sang a song for me several times and  insisted that I include it on the next program.  The performance included a recital of “Mo Li Hua” (Jasmine Flower) by the choir and their leader also played piano with the choir.

Listen to the Seniors Choir singing Mo Li Hua 茉莉花。 


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