入境隨俗 (When in China…)


Great Wall of China
Emperor's Chambers, inside the Forbidden City

The quest to experience music around the world continues, this time in Beijing, China. Months ago, my good friend the trumpet player Pete Dragotta and his wonderful wife Janet visited me in Taiwan from Guangdong, China and the idea came to us to do a gig in Beijing.

Unfortunately, after months of work permit complications and visa-chasing, Pete was unable to make it. China would have been a solo venture had it not been for my mother, who decided to come with me and make China a two week trip that took us from the mountains of Sichuan to downtown Beijing!

Imperial Garden, inside the Forbidden City
Hot pot!
Temple of Heaven, 天壇
Shanliu Traditional Village 
China was, in a word, captivating. These are fecund times for this country, which is changing so rapidly socially, economically, and culturally. Beijing, now a sprawling metropolis, seemed to perfectly fuse the ancient with the modern. 
Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest designed by Ai Wei Wei, one of my favorite artists/heroes)

Here are some photos and video clips of our gig at Jianghu Bar (江湖酒吧), with Li Tieqiao (saxophone), Yu Miao (guzheng), and Da Huai (bass). This was my first time playing with guzheng, the traditional Chinese zither, on a free improvised gig, no less. 


From left to right: Li Tieqiao (saxophone), Me (drums), Yu Miao (guzheng), Da Huai (bass)
It was an honor playing with this great musicians, all of whom exhibited uncanny listening abilities and an overall trust in each other's musical choices that gave this gig a true sense of confidence and spontaneity. 



Pre-gig dinner! Tofu and fish, fried squid, lotus root, and hundred year old egg (that's that black stuff on the bottom left!)
Free improvisation - Experimental Music 實驗音樂



We also visited the Sichuan Province, which was so different from Beijing it could have been a completely different country. 
Jiuzai Valley National Park 九寨溝, "the valley of nine fortified villages), in Sichuan, a whole day's drive from the city. Some of the most beautiful, pristine scenery I've ever seen, it is one of the largest nature reserves in the world. Pictured here is Mirror Lake.




Tibetan folk singer.


China is home to over 50 distinct ethnic groups, including the Zangzu (藏族), this is because Sichuan Province is located very close to the Tibetan border, and the influence on the local village culture is very apparent. Here, you can see Tibetan prayer flags hanging from houses, fences, and bridges.
Tibetan prayer wheel. The water spins the wheel, sending a prayer to heaven with each rotation.
The people who live in the mountains are very reliant on the yak (pictured below) to help raise crops and provide milk, hide, and meat (and the occasional photo op).


Just a routine yak-washing.
It was incredibly tempting not to hit this giant drum at Jiangzu Village, a traditional village which is home to the Jiang ethnic group.


Bamboo flutes :)
Me and the cool kids: Alice, Victor, and Max. All growing up in different parts of the States, with parents from all different parts of China. Had a blast hanging out with this rascals.

(Fashion note: I had just bought that scarf at a nearby artisanal market. Its design is typically Tibetan, and is super warm for that cold mountain terrain.)

Not exactly the Taiwanese-style 蔥油餅 (green onion pancake) that I love so much, but definitely a warm, tasty treat for the bus ride. 

Noodle-tossing. The Chinese equivalent of pizza dough tossing but somehow more physics-defying. 
Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone Buddha in the world, in Chengdu. 
Another incredible performance. This scene is an homage to Sun Wu Kong, the Monkey King, from the classic tale Journey to the West, in which a mischievous monkey deity is commissioned to bring the Buddhist scrolls from India to China.  

This peacock jumped out of its pen, strutted beside us, and then struck a pose. 

Sichuan is the panda capital of the world, with over 3,000 giant pandas living in the wild. Here is an adult giant panda at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base.
.
More pandas!!!


...and a red panda, just for good measure. :)

A special performance combining acrobatics, drama, and other ridiculous feats (like manipulating a wooden puppet to write impeccable Chinese calligraphy on an elevated canvas). 
My absolute favorite, 變臉 (face changing), a Sichuan folk performance tradition in which actors dance while swiftly switching masks. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

397 Nights in Tunisia

I got in!!!