Jazz Festivals in China

(an overwhelming selection of Western music to visit China)

The upcoming JZ Shanghai Jazz Festival in October is one of many American music festivals that have recently been permitted by government.

In a November 2012 article for AllAboutJazz.com, written after the OCT-LOFT Jazz Festival in Shenzhen, Gaungdong Province, Ian Patterson writes, “Just a few short years ago there were no jazz festivals in China. Suddenly, however, they seem to be popping up all over the place. Southern China in particular is home to at least eight festivals, all of which have started up inside the last three or four years—though outside of Beijing and Shanghai, there's not much in the way of a jazz scene.”

Sponsor, MusicDish comments on the risks and dynamics of music festivals in China:

"We have seen festivals go from purely on the coast to further into the interior," Eric de Fontenay, owner of MusicDish told China Daily. "I think there is really untapped demand in these other regions."

In an interview with JazzTimes, De Fontenay said the current festival “is actually the ninth JZ Shanghai Festival and some like Midi are even older.”

“But clearly, the number of festivals have exploded over the last 5-7 years from nearly nowhere, though they seem to have plateaued in the last couple.

There is much that can be said about this phenomenon. One is that it reflects a hunger amongst a growing middle-class for new types of music, from jazz to metal, and more importantly, for the ‘festival experience.’” explained Mr. De Fontenay.

“In this way, they actually serve an invaluable educational role for fans and mainland artists, a discovery vehicle for music and artists they would otherwise be unfamiliar with.” De Fontenay said. “What has happened over the last 3 years is that festivals have moved beyond the tier 1 coastal cities (Beijing, Shanghai) to tier 2 and 3 cities in inner China - cities such as Chengdu and Wuhan. On the other side, it reflects the incredible passion the festival organizers have for providing a platform to introduce new music, for their challenges are well beyond these faced by their western counterparts.”

“Held over a full month from September 20th to October 19th, the festival is composed of four parts - Sennheiser Green Note, Jazz Around Town, Nong Qing Jing'an, BMW Master Hall and JZ Festival in Beijing.” reads the press release.

Celebrating with live music at the event (October 8 - 23) will be such artists Mos Def, rhythm and blues-cum-trip-hop legends, The Brand New Heavies, trumpet guru Roy Hargrove and even Chris Potter, as well as some 75 other musicians and some 200 bands will celebrate at the event. The music will be all over the named cities, in every conceivable venue: nightclubs, concert halls, parks and streets.

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Scott Krane