Shanghai Jazz

New CD release "Shanghai Jazz" reaches deep into Shanghai’s fabled past to produce a collection of provocative Chinese Jazz favourites given new life some 50 years since Jazz was outlawed as an ‘indecent’ form of entertainment.

The album, distributed by EMI Push, Shanghai, is the brainchild of Australian composer John Huie, whose passion for Chinese Jazz led him to move to Shanghai in 2002 in search of the remnants of the city’s musical past. What he found was a tale of musical rebirth as fascinating as the story of Shanghai Jazz Music’s original rise and subsequent fall under Communism.

Jazz has been in China for more than 80 years, providing a background score to the gambling, extortion, Opium trafficking and prostitution which characterized Shanghai at the height of its infamous age of decadence. With its many colourful cabarets, sepia-lit dance halls and luxurious theatres, The ‘Paris of the East’ quickly became a thriving centre for music and entertainment, and the Jazz capital of Asia.

In 1935, at the request of Du Yusheng, the notorious overlord of Shanghai’s ominous ‘Green Gang,’ Shanghai’s first all-Chinese jazz band was formed by Li JinHui for the Yangtze River Hotel Dance Hall. Dubbed ‘Qing Feng Wu Yue Dui’ (The Clear Wind Dance Band), the group performed songs with racy themes in a fleshy world of taxi dancers, gangsters and sing song girls. Critics called it ‘pornographic,’ but The Clear Wind Band played on to an audience including gamblers, prostitutes, mobsters and other creatures of the night.

The 1949 Revolution ushered out the Jazz era, and with it the likes of The Clear Wind Band. Now, 25 years after the ban on Jazz was lifted in 1979, the all-Mandarin "Shanghai Jazz" has adopted the "Clear Wind Band" moniker to celebrate a rebirth of interest in Chinese Jazz music.

The album features classics like "De Bu Dao De Ai Qing" (The Love you Can’t Get), delivered through the titillating gravel-voice of ‘Ginger’ Zheng ZhiXiao. Things get jumping with tunes like the riotous "Wo Yao Ni De Ai" (I Want Your Love)-charged with life and humor by the confidently flamboyant ‘Coco’ Zhao Ke, and closes with a bittersweet version of "Qing Ren de Yan Lei" (Lovers Tears) sung with heart-wrenching compassion by ‘Carrie’ Zhang Le. There are also instrumental versions of the classic "Avalon" and, naturally, "Ye Shanghai" (Night in Shanghai), many featuring Huie’s masterful blending of traditional Chinese string instruments with piano, brass and rhythm tracks.

In total "Shanghai Jazz" contains contributions from a cast of more than twenty talented young Chinese musicians, underscoring what has become an exciting jazz revival amidst the dramatic social and economic reform of the New Shanghai.

"Shanghai Jazz" is distributed throughout Southeast Asia and can be purchased in Hong Kong at HMV and other popular record outlets.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Clear Wind Band
  • Event Date: 11/25/2004
  • Subtitle: Musical Seductions
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