Blue notes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2011, 12:00am


Two interesting and unusual gigs are scheduled for Saturday night: neither can be called pure jazz, but each has a significant jazz element.

Scottish singer/songwriter Julienne Taylor will be appearing with her band, The Celtic Connection, at 8pm at the Lyric Theatre of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The group is folk and world music-based, but includes among its members guitarist Graeme Stephen, who recently won the 2011 Scottish Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award, and multi-instrumentalist Fraser Fifield, who doubles on the unusual combination of saxophone and bagpipes. Taylor has been critically lauded as a vocalist and songwriter.

That same night Grappa's Cellar presents its first cabaret show, Les Illusions De L'Amour, with singer Marsha Yuan, the Aerial Angels dancers, and a sharp jazz band comprising Ted Lo on keyboards, Eugene Pao on guitar, Scott Dodd on bass and drummer Jack Greminger. The show begins at 10pm.

Both performances sound promising - it's an unfortunate coincidence that they're on the same night.

Next Sunday the inaugural show of the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival takes place - this year organised by the Hong Kong Jazz Association, without the participation of founder Clarence Chang of Jazz World who is planning another festival in October.

Sponsored by the government's Mega Events Fund, it features more than 300 artists from 24 countries over an eight-day programme that ends on October 2.

A total of 60 performances, talks and workshops have been organised in addition to the concerts. Sunday's show, which is a free open-air event at the piazza of the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, lasting from 2pm to 7pm, features a suitably international cast of players - the local Wilson Lam Trio, Trio D'En Bas from France, Estudiantina Ensemble from Cuba, Aseana Percussion Unit from Malaysia, and Gao Hong Zhang and Acid featuring players from China, Malaysia, and Britain.

Other performances will take place at City Hall on September 29 and 30 and October 1, and at the West Kowloon Cultural District over the weekend of October 1 and 2. There will also be late-night shows at Vibes at the Mira Hotel on September 26, featuring the Simin Tander Quartet from the Netherlands; September 27 featuring Canadian singer Irene Atman, and on September 28 when French singer Bianca Gallice and her band will be collaborating with local string players to present a programme of French songs.

Many of the artists appearing at the festival come from outside the world of jazz, with a particular bias towards Eastern European folk music, but even the most purist of jazz fans should find something to appeal.

Local talent is well represented at the festival with artists including singer Ginger Kwan, guitarist Teddy Suen, and Deafaids featuring Peter Scherr on bass, Charley Huntley on saxophone, Bob Mocarsky on keyboards and Jack Greminger on drums.

Full details of the programme and ticketing arrangements can be found at

Take Three

Three noteworthy performances to catch at the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival.

Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band featuring Terence Blanchard, October 1, West Kowloon Cultural District. Multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter Blanchard joins conguero Sanchez and his band in a performance which pays tribute to the ground-breaking partnership between trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo.

Ted Lo and the Jazz Strings Ensemble, October 1, City Hall Concert Hall. Pianist Lo with bassist Scott Dodd and drummer Jack Greminger are joined by a 27-piece string section and guest vocalists Elaine Liu, Howard McCrary, Marsha Yuan, and Ted's nephew, Justin Lo. The Michel Bisceglia Trio from Belgium share the bill.

Kurt Rosenwinkel Standard Trio, October 2, West Kowloon Cultural District. Guitarist Rosenwinkel, who has worked with Gary Burton, Joe Henderson and Brian Blade, is joined by bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner for a standards set likely to reflect his love of the music of Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk.