Shenyang China


The Quartet

The Quartet

It’s been two weeks since my return to the US from the month long Rhythm Road/US State Department┬átour of Russia, and Asia. It has been quite an emotional adjustment since on the ┬átour we were treated as if we were diplomats from the United States. Driving in embassy limos. Being wined and dined constantly, and of course the 50-100 people who mobbed us after concerts and master classes to get a picture or an autograph, or to just talk about music. Most importantly I miss the day to day music. We played over 30 events, Everyday was another bit of magic from the music. We drove the music to higher levels. That is what happens when you do many consecutive events. My dream since I was 13 years old has been to do just that. Back in New York it has been a small adjustment from playing concerts, and master classes daily, to more occasional opportunities to do this. I miss the daily hang with the band as well. We all bonded like family. I am looking forward to Europe upcoming in the fall, Australia in the spring, and back to teaching in the university, and conservatory I work in. Hats off to the band of Tim Horner, Jim Ridl, and Tom Dicarlo for the completion of that month in Asia. We all worked our butts off, but the music made it all worth while.

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Xu Cunyu, and Lu TIng Ting

Xu Cunyu, and Lu TIng Ting

Xu Cunyu, and Lu TIng Ting

Xu Cunyu, and Lu TIng Ting

Our final day in Shenyang China was spent at the Shenyang Conservatory. This is music like I have never seen before. There are 13,000 students studying at this school. I guess it is in line with the fact that there are 6-7 million people living in the center of Shenyang, and 23-25 million living in all of Shenyang including the suburbs. So with that huge population I suppose 13,000 students is not that much. It services students from elementary school all the way through college with music studies as well as academic studies, but I think mostly music. The campus is huge. We arrived and were escorted to a really beautiful concert hall lined with flowers, and the beautiful Chinese style of decoration throughout the hall. After the set up and sound check. We were escorted to another beautiful lunch at yet another traditional Chinese round table with tons of food and drink. Our concert was successful as normal, and then we were treated to performances by some of the conservatories finer traditional Chinese musicians. This was truly enlightening, and educational for all of us American musicians. First a very serious looking young man named Xu came out in traditional silk Chinese attire, and played with amazing command, and personality a guitar like instrument called a Pipa. I think John McGlaughlin, or Paco Deluca would have gone crazy hearing this kid play. He had fantastic command, and stage presence. He bowed to the instrument, and to the audience with deep respect. He played his ass off, and Tim, Jim, Tom, and myself were truly mesmerized. The a beautiful young female student named Xu Cunyu came out and sat behind a Zither, known in Chinese as a Yanghi. It is on a beautiful wooden stand and struck with thin wooden sticks with a little paddle on the end of the sticks. It is tuned for the constant use of the pentatonic scale, and she played a really beautiful composition. Then a absolutely knock you dead gorgeous girl named Lu Ting Ting came out in a really long blue full length dress and played the Erhu. This instrument is a 2 stringed violin type instrument that is bowed, but the bow is permanently fastened between the two strings. It uses mainly the Asian pentatonic scale as it is tuned to D and A. It is really a gorgeous sound and the girl who played it was emotional, and flashy. All three of these musicians had great stage presence. We were all really impressed. Afterwards when we were asked to comment, I said I was really enlightened by these sounds, and that as we go all over the world as educators bringing our American jazz music to all the different cultures, I felt as if I had just gotten an education. It was really a fantastic thing watch. There is sure a lot talent out here in the world, and I know Jim Ridl, Tom Dicarlo, and Tim Horner, and myself all fell very grateful to have witnessed this innovative, and traditional Chinese music. We were really moved.

v

Quingshan Lu Percussion Professor

v

The Zither (The Yangqui)


Master Class

Master Class
Tim Horner lectures about music

Tim Horner lectures about music

Working with Professor Hui Yu

Working with Professor Hui Yu

Talking about musical cooperation

Talking about musical cooperation

We had another nice Master class and concert at Shenyang Normal University for the music department there. The Dean of the music department is Professor Hui Yu. He is a doctorate of Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in the US. He lived in the US for 16 years, and spoke English better than anyone we have come across in the other venues. This made it quite easy for us to communicate throughout the afternoon and evening.

At the beginning we were told that the students were mainly classically trained, and that they would be shy when it came to asking questions. Actually once we got going there were many questions from the students. After the first was asked, they all began to open up, which of course helps us, as we want them to participate. One of the best questions asked was, “How do you reach musical cooperation on a piece of music”? I found this to be a great opportunity to demonstrate just how we as professionals get together to rehearse original music.

I started by acting as if I was making a phone call to Jim Ridl.” Hi Jim. Do you want to come over to my house and work through some new music?” Jim says YES! Then to Tom Dicarlo the same question, and to Tim Horner the same question. SO we get together, and Jim pulls out his new tune “Sun On My Hands”, which is dedicated to his father who was a farmer in North Dakota, and had very dark hands from working outside for many years.

I spoke of how after 35 years of practicing the language skills need for negotiation the chord changes, and harmonic language used in jazz improvisation, it was very easy for us to knock out a performance of any song right on the fly, as the cooperation, and conversation takes shape on its own when the musician are of a high level. I spoke of how Jim might play the first A section of the melody, and then I would play the 2nd A section, then Jim would play the B section, and perhaps I would answer with the last A section. Then Jim might solo on one A section, then I would solo on the 2nd A section, and we would join together at the B section, and complete the tune with a great moving, emotional performance. That emotion and spirit in the music can happen in my house. It does not have to be in a concert situation. Anyway this really demonstrated the mutual cooperation between musicians in jazz performance. It really sent the message to the students.

Then the professor of clarinet named Zhao’ Jie’ came running up on stage very excited about this piece of music he wanted to play with us. His music was written in the key of B flat for clarinet, and Jim had a piano part with no chord changes at all in C. Tom on the bass had no chart at all, and Tim on drums had nothing either. I had to transpose the B flat melody down one step. Within 5 minutes we came up with a good plan to make this work for the clarinet professor. I set it up with a little vamp, and away we all went. It was really good, and Jim, Tom, Tim and myself made something happen. The magic of jazz improvisation.

Afterwards Tim Horner took the microphone and mentioned how this unexpected jam session with the clarinet professor was a perfect example of how us musicians must always be using our ears to negotiate the music. For example Tom Dicarlo, and Tim Horner had no music at all, and Jim Ridl, and myself were using music with no harmonic definitions (chord changes). So listening and using the ears are vital in this situation.

Afterwards the trombone professor Zhou Gang who was the first to ask a question in the master class came up on stage with us, and jammed on an F blues. We all had a lot of fun, and I felt we really reached the students.

Afterwards we were hosted to a beautiful traditional lunch, and then a short rest, and a concert performance, which went well as usual. Many pictures, and autographs were taken as normal with all performances we have done. Another triumph for this band!

Zhao Jie' jams with the quartet

Zhao Jie' jams with the quartet

Setting up the jam with trombone professor Zhou Gang

Jamming with Trombone professor Zhou Gang

Conference room with the VP of the University

Conference room with the VP of the University

Every one in conference room

Every one in conference room

Flowers at the end

Flowers at the end

It was a very fascinating day yesterday at our visit, and concert at Liaoning University in Shenyang. The campus is really huge, and spread out with many buildings. We started with a gracious meeting with the vice president of the university Dr. Yong-Xin Guo. He is a very interesting, intelligent man who is a doctorate in Physics. Obviously a really brilliant man. They brought us to a beautiful conference room with gorgeous chairs in a circle. Big chairs. 2 people could fit in each one. Anyway we had a wonderful greeting, and conversation with him and some of his staff. He praised our arrival, said how important our presence was for the university, as we bring cultural exchange, and our music to the university. Our music would certainly be something they have never had before in the university, so he was very enthusiastic, and excited. After speaking for a while he personally presented us each with a gift. A beautiful black and gray box, which opened on a hinge, and contained a beautiful necktie, which was the exact design of the box. Very cool. We each individually accepted our gift with a bow, and a Chi Chi, which means thank you in Chinese. Then we were escorted to the concert hall where we were to do our set up, and sound check. After that we were escorted to a lunch with Dr Guo (the VP), which was so beautifully laid out. The Chinese custom of eating is a very sacred one. Very different from that of the Chinese restraunts we are used to in the US. The food was beautifully prepared. It looked like art as you can see on the pictures below. The napkins were set in a very particular, and specific way at each table setting. It was a real eye opener for all of us Americans. It sent me a deep message of how the Chinese respect their own culture. We ate and drank a lot as the wait staff just kept bring more and more food out which was placed on the round glass pedestal that turns for you to pick food off of each plate. The pictures below show all this. Anyway we drank a lot, and ate a lot just before we had to play. Also during lunch we had some great in depth conversations with Dr Guo about physics, Albert Einstein, and my son Miles who I told him is physics major in college. He was a very educated and fascinating man. I don’t personally know much about physics other than it is one of the more difficult majors to pursue, but I was really into the conversation with him. After that we played a concert for around 200 college students who were not music majors. They were very quiet, and afraid to clap, until after the first tune was finished, I explained to them (with translator of course) that it was alright to clap after each solo, and that we as players actually need them to do that as it motivates us, and makes us feel good. Well after that was said, they went nuts. It was like they wanted to clap, but were not sure it was alright to do so. When the concert was over we had CD’s and Rhythm Road materials, pads, pens, pencils etc to give out. Well they rushed the stage like a stampede to be first in line to get anything they could. The truth of the matter is that in this area of Shenyang, there is no jazz radio station, and they rarely hear this music. Many of them have only heard a little jazz on film on TV, and movie theatres. Many things are still censored here like You Tube, Facebook etc. So their accessibility is limited artistically a bit. This is why our arrival, and performance was so very valuable to them. We were again given a gigantic bouquet of flowers, which I again gave to one of the students. It was a wonderful start to our concert tour of China, as well as a great learning, and cultural experience for us. Check the pics below.

Tim gets gift

Tim gets gift

Jim surrounded

Jim surrounded

Concert audience

Masterclass audience

Lunch table

Lunch table

Scallops with peppers

Scallops with peppers

Goose liver on melon

Goose liver on top of melon and chinese fruit

Accepting my gift

Accepting my gift

Jim gets gift

Jim gets gift