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October 8, 2011

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Jazzing up Shanghai with global vibe

IT will be jazz, jazz, jazz from October 15 through the end of the month with the annual JZ Festival and concerts indoors, outdoors and jamming around town.

The JZ Festival, running from October 15 through 23, features celebrated musicians at the Expo Garden Park and Shanghai Centre Theatre.

From October 25 to 28 there will be jazz concerts at the Shanghai Concert Hall and on October 15 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

Erik Truffaz, Take 6, Chris Botti and many others will take the stage.

The JZ Festival this year will hold a two-day outdoor music party at the Expo Garden Park, featuring live music by more than 70 groups and musicians from both China and abroad. They include Jazzanova from Germany, Joji Mayer and Nerve from Switzerland, Tower of Power and Roy Ayers from the United States.

"As always, we are trying to provide more easy accesses to jazz," says Olga Xu from JZ's media office.

Jazz lovers can attend five classic jazz concerts or "master halls" at the Shanghai Centre Theatre from October 18 to 22, featuring Erik Truffaz, Kenny Garrett, Take 6, McCoy Tyner and John Pizzarelli - one on each day.

Jazz was once hugely popular in Shanghai in the 1930s but faded over the years. In 2005 the JZ Festival was launched by the JZ Club in an effort to promote jazz and make it accessible.

"Jazz represents a kind of music that is connected with ideas like freedom, meditation and creation, which resonate with many people, creative and otherwise," says composer Tan Dun, famous for his innovative work and score for Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000).

Extemporaneous jazz is the heart of many performances, letting musicians create, go with the flow and trade off between each other.

"Extemporaneous music often has a strong personal style, closely related with a musician's personal experience and views about life," says Tan.

He observes that there are elements of world music and hip-hop in the jazz of French trumpeter Truffaz; US saxophonist Garrett gets more complicated with fusion, hip-hop, swing, hard bop, free jazz and even Chinese elements like erhu (two-string Chinese fiddle) in his music; pianist Pizzarelli is widely recognized for classic elegance and American pop culture.

Tan says he looks forward to the Shanghai concerts and hopes if possible to cooperate with Truffaz, Garret, Pizzarelli and others in the future.

"Their musical and creative uniqueness make great works," says Tan.

Shanghai Concert Hall will be home to other four jazz concerts in its jazz week, featuring Chris Botti, Eliane Elias, Rolf Becker and his Big Band, Richard Bona and Alfredo Rodrigue.

Botti won his first Grammy Award in 1994 and was nominated for three Grammies in 2007. On October 25 he will perform "Cinema Paradise," "When I Fall in Love" and "My Funny Valentine," and many other works.

It will be a night of bossa nova on October 26, featuring Brazilian singer Elias' sensual voice, impressive range of tempos and artistic lyrics.

Rolf Becker will cooperate with Chinese musicians on October 27 while Richard Bona and Alfredo Rodrigue will present a concert mixing and matching South American and African jazz on October 28.

The French band Life Is Not A Picnic takes the stage of the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on October 15. Travel, memories and scenes from around the world have inspired the band over the years. Apart from classics such as "La Vie en Rose," they will also perform the Chinese pop song "Endless Love."

"We will bring Chinese cuisine made by a top French cook," says David Bursztein, vocal and artistic director of the band.


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