This week is the biggest week for music in Shanghai, we are on the countdown to the weekend of the JZ Festival which usually is the best weekend of the year if you like to overdose with music.
JZ is celebrating this year specially because of its ten years of festivals. The first two times they did it was in Fuxing Park, there was just one stage, and the people in the audience was just about the same people you would commonly see at JZ Club, but just spread on a bigger space with carpets on the grass having wine picnics, and going around the groups as we did from table to table on those old nights of jazz at the Fuxing lu club. Great times too.
Now the festival is at the Expo Park, it will have nine spots for music, five of them will be the big stages, and they are expecting this year over ten thousand people each day. That’s of course worth to celebrate, and to congralute all the good people of JZ for their fantastic job all these years, and most of all for the unstoppable vision of its leader Ren Yuqing.
Okay, so let’s get to work with the plan for this weekend because it’s going to be a long one.
First of all, always remember that water is life, and liquids are fun, just remember to hydrate yourself during the weekend if you plan to go through it all from Friday night to Sunday night, sixty hours of party are hard to survive unless you drink lots of water. I’m already extra hydrating myself, and I’m planning too my personal tradition which is to bring mistery jelly shots to share with everybody I meet around, come find me to play jelly shot russian rulet with me. This year Layabozi will also be working in site, we are going to be interviewing some of the coolest bands playing there, so hopefully they will like my jelly shots too.
The festival starts with a gala the night of Friday October 17th with a concert of Pat Metheny. If you are a jazz fan then I think you don’t need me to tell you this is a must. The vast career of Pat Metheny is really too big for me to summarize here, so in case you are a rock head or an electronic geek and never heard of Metheny, well Google him, he has made so much music I don’t even know it all, but I tell you, he plays the guitar like the gods, and he has worked with musicians of all kinds and corners of the world in the spirit of just making music. The guy simply rocks. By the way, if you were well informed earlier then you must know this Wednesday JZ will have a workshop directed by him at the BMW Experience Center. I will tell you later how that was.
Now the festival at the Expo Park.
First thing, JZ is having a lot of specials spots this year, among the coolest is the Drum Zone with performances with all kinds of percussions instruments, and intruments for you to jam. There will be the Batucada going around as other years too, this is super fun to stop and dance with them, a little exercise for your tale too. And about exercise, another new spot will be the Yoga spot, which might come pretty useful for a quick stop for ten minutes or so just to keep your muscles fresh and awake to survive the weekend. Now this is fun, there will be a spot called JZ Meeting, and on Saturday at 4:30pm Bootsy Collins will be there to talk with the people around, write down this one, it will be fun. Another spot will have free workshops of swing dance at 15:30 and 16:30 both days, remember to come with comfy shoes. And the cutest of them all, the Ukelele Island that will have a ukelele flash mob, difficult to go more progressive than that really.
The Plan (See the map at the bottom)
Saturday, October 18th the festival open its doors at Expo Park at 1pm. So let’s imagine we go there since the very beginning. This is what I recommend you to do.
13:00 – Master Hall – Mr. Zheng Deren & The Shanghai Music Orchestra – Mr. Zheng is 91 years old and he has been playing since… ever… and he has not stop in all his life, he is the art director of this orchestra and I believe that he was chosen to open the festival as a way to applaud his work and dedication to music through all this years that we know involved very tough ones for music history in China. His orchestra will be playing old style Shanghainese jazz.
14:00 – Blue Grass – Teresa Lee The Mad Jazzers – Teresa has a lovely voice and pressence, she is been having a great year playing in Shanghai and around China. Her band is always leaded by her husband Oleg Roschin on piano, and the cats joining this session will be the classic gang of JZ club, so you can expect this show to be beating hard.
15:00 – The River – Gao Funk & G-Eleven – These guys come from Beijing, they are doing urban funk, acid jazz, and blues, with a lot of bronces and guitars. Expect some dancing vibes.
15:30 – Green Note – The Red Groove Project – Lawrence Ku’s band will also be playing some funk there, but the strenght of this band is the guitar riffs and solos. Their funk is more retro. And if it’s like some other years, they will have a big group of cute fans that will make the hang even more fun.
16:00 – Blue Grass – Li Xiaochuan Quintet – Li Xiaochuan is one the lead trumpet players of our jazz scene, this is beatnik’s jazz. Smoke it.
16:30 – Master Hall – Jojo Mayer & Nerve – If you were here three years ago when Jojo Mayer was the main guest of that year and played the big stage, then you know. If you weren’t there then, go to get your mind blown. Jojo Mayer’s drums are just from another planet.
17:30 – Earth Lounge – Chekov – Jojo Mayer will play a set of one hour and half, I can’t say that that’s a long one because you really can’t want his music to stop. So it is absolutelly understandable if you stay there until the end, but if you feel like exploring then bounce to the Earth Lounge, Chekov is one of the best bands of Shanghai, you will thank to have been there too.
18:00 – Green Note – Cui Jian – Simply you can’t miss the father of rock in China.
18:30 – Master Hall – Laura Fygi – Cui Jian will play for one hour and a half, but you can’t neither miss Laura Fyji, maybe just go around 18:45 to the Master Hall. We should expect to be hypnotized by Fygi’s voice.
19:00 – Earth Lounge – Nova Heart – This hours are going to see a lot of action, but again, this is unmissable, Nova Heart is the band that has the best sound in China, leaded by Helen Feng, with Atom of fame of Hedgehog on the drums, this band’s music is the soundtrack for disco-heaven.
20:00 – Blue Grass – Coco & The Possicobilities – Now if there’s a band that should be the house band of JZ Festival should be the band leaded by Coco Zhao. Like many other JZ cats he has been a steady artist through out all these ten years of festivals. And Coco is that kind of guy that makes you feel like you are in your own living room hanging with friends. When he sings you are at home.
20:30 – Green Note – Bootsy Collins and the Funk Unity Band – I really hope you have been drinking a lot of liquids, and that your legs are still fresh and fast, because you must run to this one. My guess is that I don’t have to tell you why, just be there.
Sunday October 19th
Let’s imagine you did continue partying all Satuday night, because that would be the happy option, and because there will be many parties in town that night. So Sunday, first thing is a long shower, and I recommend you to get in advance some grams of … Ginseng Oolong Tea, they call it the king of teas, this tea is better that all those chemical energy drinks, and healthier than any drug, plus is super tasty. So while you take your shower boil some water to make yourself some bottles of this tea to take with you, because you will need it.
13:00 – Master Hall – Sinne Eeg with guest Coco Zhao – This act promises a display of figurative art projected by the voices of these two amazing singers. Deli for jazz lovers.
14:00 – Blue Grass – Joey and the Polyphonics – It is a pleassure to look at and listen to Joey playing her piano and singing. Just that.
14:30 – Earth Lounge – Erica Lee – Erica Lee is one of the brightest singer of China. She literally shines when her voice is filling up the room, plus she is fun, and you can feel through her singing her passion for music. And this is her debut at JZ Festival as a solo singer, she has sung along the best local talents, but finally we will have the pleassure to listen to her singing her own music.
15:15 – Master Hall – Tommy Emmanuel – One man on the stage with his guitar blowing your mind.
16:00 – Earth Lounge – Wang Wenwei and His Friends – These guys will be playing a fusion of rock sounds, Wang Wenwei on guitar and if the band’s formation is steady you will get to hear the lord of JZ Festival, Ren Yuqing, on bass.
16:30 – Master Hall – Snarky Puppy – This is jazz funk fusion, that means a lot of groovy insurging fun. This band is actually a collective from Brooklyn that has featured over forty musicians, so the reasonable thing here is to expect a big party with them.
17:30 – Earth Lounge – Friction Pony – What happens when you cross ponies in acid with Alec Haavik magnetism? … aha! These guys are all music groovy geeks. This is the place to go with your wine picnic and friends to get all psychedellic and dance naked under the stars… yes, there will be many stars, up on the sky and around you.
18:30 – Blue Grass – J3 – Jazz meets rock, East meets West, chaos meets order. Go fly some jazz.
19:00 – Master Hall – Marcus Miller – A gig for bass lovers. Marcus Miller is one of those bass players that come from the stage of Miles Davis and from there he has been all around, the list of acts he has joined go from Michael Jackson to Aretha Franklin. But most important that who he has played with is that this cat slap the bass and he makes you smile.
19:30 – Green Note – Bootsy Collins and the Funk Unity Band – Yes, he will play both days. So go see him again of course.
Then you can choose where to go finish the last beers and hangs. Instead of staying until the very end of that night, my advice is that you go get some refreshing food and drinks, and then just run to JZ Club, because the last night of the festival is one of the craziest nights of the year at the club. Go find me at the rooftop, and hopefully I’ll be able to still have a decent talk, I can assure you I will have some stories after interviewing all the artists on Layabozi’s schedule for this weekend, and after spreading around all the jelly shots I’m preparing. Oh, and in case, be aware that people that night will be all high in endorphine and who knows what else! (and so will you).
Happy happy happy 10 years birthday JZ!!! You guys, JAZZ! Keep on doing a great job bringing music to us. Thanks for all the great moments we’ve had with music with you. And bring it on another 10 and 100 too. All the best!