October is the month for jazz in Shanghai and two major jazz festivals will attract famous international jazz musicians and singers, as well as China's own music makers.
The JZ Festival Shanghai, the largest jazz festival in China, will run from October 20 to 27, with shows and parties throughout the city. It's a platform for both international and Chinese jazz artists.
Shanghai Jazz Week from October 23 to 29, will feature several concerts at Shanghai Concert Hall. Performers include American jazz singer Jane Monheit, Hungarian Romani violinist Roby Lakatos, Laura Fygi from the Netherlands and American jazz musician Kyle Eastwood.
"This city has a deep jazz music base due to its cultural background and internationalism. People have a passion for jazz," says Xu Ke, art director of the Jazz Week.
In the 1920s and 30s jazz was very popular in old Shanghai and from its first year in 2004 Shanghai Jazz Week was very popular.
This will be the eighth year of the JZ Festival. The main venues will be Jing'an District and Expo Park, on both sides of the Huangpu River. The climax will be a two-day outdoor jazz party on October 20 and 21, involving six major stages, 70 groups of musicians and 80 performances at the Expo Park.
It will be the first time in China that five major bands from around the country perform on the same stage, delivering "Jazz from the Orient." American saxophone master Chris Potter will also perform, making it a "stage of swing."
Chinese jazz singers on the program include Shunzi, Li Quan, Coco Zhao, Chang Shilei and Jasmine Chen.
The Green Note stage will feature R&B, soul, funk, jazz and hip-hop, performed by Roy Hargrove, Hong Kong singer-songwriter Khalil Fong and his team, the British acid jazz phenomenon Incognito, Taiwanese hip-pop star Softlipa and Japanese jazz-hip-hop band Jabberloop. The program also includes Afrosonic, a local expat band with strong African vibe, and the Chinese soul singer Tia Yuan.
At sundown, the audience can take in riverside views and performances by Hong Kong singer Karen Mok and Italian jazz singer Roberta Gambarini. American jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove calls Gambarini "the most fascinating voice in the world."
Tia Yuan, a Chinese soul and R&B singer-songwriter, will stage with American keyboard player and producer Jewell Fortenberry, the band J.T-crew with neo soul, jazz and hip-hop.
"People ask me why I play soul (music), which belongs to the West. My answer is 'Why not'?" Yuan says. "We Chinese can play soul because music is a language without national boundaries. It's a pure language and originates from the deepest part of our soul," she says.
For lovers of Latino music, the lineup includes the twice Grammy-nominated Salsa band Ochún, the JZ Latino Big Band and Tempero Brazi.
The Noukilla Band from the island of Mauritius will also perform.
The two-day jazz party will also feature world music and electronic jazz.
The Master Hall stage in Jing'an area will be filled every night from October 23 to 27. "Bass gentlemen" Ron Carter, at the age of 75, will remind audiences of the golden age of jazz. The fusion jazz group Yallowjackets, a two-time Grammy winner, remains energetic after many years. Twelve-time Grammy winner The Manhattan Transfer will put on a show.
Actually, through three months from late July through the end of October, more than 150 concerts will have been staged throughout the city. They feature Karen Mok, Khalil Fong, Roy Hargrove's RH Factor, Incognito, Ron Carter, Yellowjackets, Manhattan Transfer and another 120 bands from 18 countries.
"Informal, open shows let jazz lovers feel the jazz around town," says Ren Yuqing, founder of the JZ Festival Shanghai and its "Love My Music" section. "We believe great music comes from the crowd. Students, attorneys, office workers and kids go up to the stage and express their talent. They might be amateur but they inspire."
This year, after parties will be held nightly from October 20 to 27, at the Jz Club.
The festival this year will include local designers presenting fashion and lifestyle concepts at Expo Park. The events include an exhibition area at Expo Park for several environmental protection NGOs and the mobile scientific museum of the Shanghai Science and Education Development Foundation.
"The JZ Festival Shanghai and Shanghai Jazz Week were both born in Shanghai and for Shanghai," Ren says.