All that jazz

Updated: 2013-08-16 10:58

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

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All that jazz

An iconic music center in New York is making big plans to open a new hub in China, Shi Yingying reports from Shanghai.

Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New York-based nonprofit music organization, has decided to build a permanent subsidiary in Shanghai. The 100-plus-seat club, to be opened in 2016 on the Bund, will be modeled on JALC's Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at home in Manhattan, with similar curved interior walls, open sightlines, superb acoustics and possibly a glass exterior wall that will overlook Shanghai's Holy Trinity Cathedral instead of Central Park.

"Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha, which we established last year, was our first satellite outside America," says Jason Olaine, director of programming and touring from JALC who's responsible for the Qatar project in partnership with the St. Regis chain of luxury hotels in Doha. "Both of them (clubs in New York and Doha) are on the fifth floors, so you look out over beautiful Central Park or the Persian Gulf while the band is playing. Having a visual element is a great part of the presentation."

As a warm-up for the launch in Shanghai, JALC brought its top jazz quintet for three days of live performance at the end of July.

Zhou Haiying, chairman of Shanghai Bund Investment (Group) Co Ltd, developer of the project, chose the Union Church on the Bund as the performing venue, in part to make use of the club's intended view of Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Five musicians led by Dominick Farinacci, the American jazz trumpeter and musical prodigy highly praised by Hollywood record producer Quincy Jones, had great fun in the church. The interior of the church was designed to feel like half theater and half music bar.

"Jazz works in any kind of intimate venue. Whether it's the small club, theater, church or living room, it seems to go anywhere. The most important thing is to have that great connection between audience and the musicians," says the 30-year-old trumpeter, who began playing the instrument in his sixth grade in Ohio.

With experience playing in both JALC New York and Doha, Farinacci sees a difference in the target audiences.

"In Doha the audience is mostly expats and some natives," he says. "We have to make sure our music is at such a high level that it's able to communicate with people's heart and soul no matter whether we speak the same verbal language."

The live jazz quintet brought some popular Chinese songs such as You Exist in My Song to Shanghai along with its own long list of classics, Farinacci says. "It's really important to be aware of the surrounding and embrace parts of their cultures into our music."

Derek Kwan, vice-president of concerts and tours from JALC, says the planned performance routine would be six nights per week starting from 2016, possibly from Tuesday to Sunday.

"In addition, we hope to cooperate with educational programs for students in Shanghai during daytime to build the awareness of jazz as a music genre," he says. "The musicians we have engaged love to perform, but just as much as they'd like to be educators and create more fans."

The government-owned developer says Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai is now under construction as part of The Central, a mixed-use project on East Nanjing Road and the Bund. Shanghai Bund Investment says it plans to throw as much as 4.5 billion yuan ($734 million) on the whole project.

"It would be a high-end complex including commercial and art elements," says Zhou Haiying, chairman of Shanghai Bund Investment, adding that the company may also bring some famous galleries to the art mall.

Copying the structure of the world's oldest shopping mall in central Milan - the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - The Central plans to build two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon that covers the street connecting four blocks of old architecture along the Bund, Zhou says.


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