John Huie is an Australian musician and arranger that has spent some considerable time in Hong Kong and China researching various world music styles, including fi lm soundtracks for Golden Harvest and also a commemorative piece for the 1997 handover. Now based in Shanghai, he has put together a crack band of local musicians to recreate many of the 1930’s jazz songs that were the soundtrack to the city in its pre-war heyday. “Shanghai Jazz – Musical Seductions From China’s Age of Decadence” is the sublime result.
Putting together a band from todays top jazz venues, including sourcing and drinking down at Mao Ming Lu, Huie’s state of the art production and modern recording techniques – not to mention a crack band comprising some of Shanghais best young musicians on bass, clarinet, bass clarinet, drums, guitar, piano, tenor sax, trombone, trumpet, pipa, violin and the lovely singing trio of Coco, Carrie and Ginger, the band run through a selection of some of Shanghai’s top tunes of the period. Jazz was banned by communists after the revolution, and is only now making a comeback – as are some of the standards of the day – including the notorious “Prostitute Song (The Love You Can’t Get)” that was high on the list of the governments most undesirable music and one of the best known songs of the dance hall era. With the CD’s packaging in English and Chinese (with lyric translations of the Shanghai classics), this is an ideal and very welcome exploration into the world of big band jazz, Shanghai style, and hopefully marks the beginning of a return for one of the more exotic blends of jazz ever to come out of the horn of a blues trumpet. Superb and thoroughly recommended.