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Xintiandi and all that jazz
1/4/2005 8:18

Shanghai Daily news

The city's second international jazz festival gets under way with world-class performers from Britain, Japan, Sweden and France playing everything from traditional New Orleans to the latest innovative styles in the music, writes Michelle Zhang Over the next few days, Xintiandi will be a paradise for lovers of jazz with internationally acclaimed jazz musicians gathering together to present five performances.
An outdoor tent, capable of holding some 700 people, has been set up near the artificial lake at Xintiandi. The artists include Japanese pianist Yosuke Yamashita, distinguished British saxophonist Tony Kofi, guitarist Eric Roche and singer/songwriter Christine Tobin, as well as Sweden's Peoria Jazzband. Their performances are a major part of 2005 Jazzy Shanghai, the second annual international jazz week to be held in the city. Zhang Xiaolu, a saxophone teacher from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, says that his choice would be the first show which stars Yamashita. ``This Japanese pianist is renowned in the international jazz field. He has appeared at many jazz festivals around the world and is famous for his special, inimitable style of piano playing,'' Zhang says. According to the local jazz professional, compared with last year, this year's international jazz week has attracted a bigger cast of performers. ``It has greatly lifted the cultural image of Shanghai,'' he adds. ``Today, jazz has become one of the most systematically developed musical styles in the city. It is also regarded as an international music language. ``As an international metropolis, Shanghai is in need of this jazz culture and the annual jazz festival serves to meet this need.'' Chiyin Tse, a British expatriate in Shanghai, says: ``I don't know too much about jazz but I think the idea of having the stage in Xintiandi is quite cool. ``I'm interested in the performances of the three British artists. It should be quite an enjoyable experience to listen to good jazz on a spring evening by the lakeside.'' The three British icons on stage will be Kofi, Roche and Tobin, all leading figures in Britain's jazz scene today. They will showcase their individual talents at the festival. Kofi, a multi-reed jazz veteran for the past two decades, is an acclaimed saxophonist -- alto, soprano, baritone -- and an expert flautist. Anchored by his playing, the Tony Kofi Quartet is able to do some brilliant improvisations. One of Britain's best finger-style guitarists, Roche is also one of the country's most innovative musicians. His music is hard to describe -- it's not folk, not country and not rock or pop. But in each set he makes room for all of the above, at the same time hinting at classical influences. Tobin, as a leading female singer/songwriter in Britain, is becoming an internationally renowned figure with her poised, pure voice giving peerless jazz interpretations. Her work is deeply rooted in tradition but she also draws on other influences. The last show at the lakeside features the Peoria Jazzband, perhaps the oldest musicians at this year's jazz festival. Over the past 45 years, it has long been rated as one of the best Swedish exponents of traditional jazz. The band has been recognized worldwide for its truly foot-tapping brand of ``happy jazz'' as well as for its fresh and clean style. The music covers styles ranging from New Orleans and Dixieland to swing and sometimes the band includes jazz variations on Swedish folk music. The Shanghai Center Theater next Friday will be the venue for the closing ceremony of the weeklong jazz festival and will feature chic French band Nouvelle Vague. ``I have already booked the tickets,'' says Roy Bai, 25, a local accountant. ``A friend introduced this French band to me. The band has successfully re-recorded some 1970s punk rhythms in a popular `bossa nova' style. As an old-time rock 'n'roll fan, I expect to find some good old memories at the concert.'' Nouvelle Vague could also mean ``new wave'' and it is a musical project initiated by Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux. The jazz band has managed to launch a musical revolution in jazz around the world by reinterpreting post-punk/new wave classics from the 1970s to the 1980s and putting a novel ``bossa nova'' coat on them. Xintiandi jazz shows Date: April 3-7, 8pm Address: Taipingqiao Artificial Lake, 181 Taicang Rd Tickets: 100-280 yuan Nouvelle Vague Date: April 8, 7:30pm Address: 1376 Nanjing Rd W. Tickets: 120-580 yuan Tel: 962-288, 6274-2010