Blue Notes

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


Live jazz in Hong Kong enjoyed an exceptional year in 2011 with memorable gigs by Martin Taylor and Ulf Wakenius, Ernie Watts with Jeremy Monteiro, Shunzo Ohno, and three jazz festivals in three months, showcasing both local and international talent.

Artists in the festivals included Terence Blanchard, Poncho Sanchez, Freddy Cole and Ginger Kwan (below), all of whom took part in the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival 2011. A 2012 programme is planned.

The Jazz World Festival HK, organised by jazz promoter Clarence Chang with a smaller sponsorship base, presented an outstanding series of concerts by bassist Eddie Gomez, the Dag Arnesen Trio, and The Asian Jazz All-Stars Power Quartet, among others.

The Peel Jazz Festival focused more on local artists and proved we have a wealth of Hong Kong-based jazz talent.

We saw strong CD releases from established masters and newer musicians: my favourites included Pat Metheny's What's It All About, Play the Blues, Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center by Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton (both below) and the Asian All-Stars Power Quartet's Live at the Living Room Jazz Festival in Bangkok. The latter included superb playing from guitarist Eugene Pao, who has been gigging busily in the city. It is good to see a jazz artist with a busy schedule of commercial work making a point of playing a lot of shows for love of the music. Live jazz in Hong Kong is the richer for it.

In 2011 the grim reaper as ever took its toll: drummer-composer Paul Motian (below); drummers Joe Morello, Butch Ballard, Eddie Marshall, and Tony Levin; pianist-composers Michael Garrick, Gordon Beck, Walter Norris, Ray Bryant and Sir George Shearing; trombonist-bandleader Papa Bue Jensen; bassist-bandleader Graham Collier; bassist-composers Charles Fambrough and Dave Shapiro; singer-songwriter Gene McDaniels; saxophonist bandleader Frank Foster; singer Joe Lee Wilson; singer-songwriter Gil Scott-Heron; trumpeters Snooky Young, and Barrie Lee Hall Jnr; trumpeter-composer Jens Winther; saxophonists Zim Ngqawana, and Eddie Mordue; guitarists Cornell Dupree and Melvin Sparks; organist Odell Brown; violinist Billy Bang; and discographer and jazz journalist Brian Rust.

The blues lost guitarists Eddie Kirkland, Hubert Sumlin, and Gary Moore; bassist Bob Brunning; harmonica players George 'Mojo' Buford and Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith; and guitarist and songwriter Bert Jansch. RIP.