World music and blues fans have plenty of choices for live music this weekend, with two mini-festivals featuring prominent local performers taking place in Taipei.
Tonight, Indian music troupe Coromandel Express kicks off a series of shows at the Red House Theater (西門紅樓) featuring performers of ethnic music.
The quartet, which consists of Japanese expats Toshihiro Wakaike and Ryohei Kanemitsu, American expat percussionist Cody Byassee and flutist and harpist Paige Su (蘇珮卿), combines elements of jazz improvisation with the classical music styles of North and South India.
The music of the two regions will sound similar to untrained ears. Both employ the use of ragas, the melodic modes that make up the distinctive sound of classical Indian music. Wakaike, who plays the tabla, and Kanemitsu, who plays the sitar, are long-time students of Hindustani music of Northern India.
Byassee and Su, who are both formally trained in jazz and classical music, are also devoted students of Indian music, but they focus on the South’s Carnatic tradition, which emphasizes vocals more than Hindustani music. Su, who is also a jazz singer, composes and sings original material with the group.
At Coromandel Express’ show, the organizers are giving away free T-shirts to the first 20 people to enter the venue, and Indian milk tea will also be served throughout the evening.
A Moving Sound (聲動劇場) appears at the Red House Theater tomorrow for a performance that follows on the heels of its recent US tour. The group’s music, which draws from traditional Taiwanese folk and Western pop and is driven by the avant-garde sensibilities of dancer and vocalist Mia Hsieh (謝韻雅), has started to earn acclaim abroad. Several months ago, A Moving Sound featured in a segment on Taiwanese music on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered program in the US. Tomorrow afternoon’s show is a chance to catch A Moving Sound in a comfortable setting for the group — the Red House Theater is one of its preferred venues.
Later tomorrow evening, Belgian expat jazz bassist Martijn Vanbuel and his group, the Golden Melody Award-winning Orbit Folks, take to the stage. Vanbuel, who also picked up a best producer gong for Orbit Folks’ album The Missing Link (失落的環節), says the group has prepared new compositions to be performed with a string quartet at tomorrow’s show.
As a composer and bandleader, Vanbuel’s interests lie in placing ethnic folk in a jazz context. Orbit Folks’ debut album featured adaptations of traditional Central Asian, Jewish and Balkan folk songs, and concertgoers can expect to hear music in this vein.
Autumn has traditionally been the season for Blues Bash, the annual blues festival started in Taipei by American expat DC Rapier, who is the founder and head of the Blues Society on Taiwan.
This year’s Bash, which is now in its eighth run, is going to be a smaller-scale event than past editions and will take place tomorrow evening at the Dreamgirls (夢幻女郎俱樂部) club at the Core Pacific City Mall (京華城).
Rapier says that personal commitments nearly forced him to cancel this year’s festival, but with the encouragement and help of several musicians from the local blues scene, he decided to hold a smaller party “to keep the idea of Blues Bash alive.”
He plans to move Blues Bash to either late spring or early summer next year, to avoid conflicting with other events in the fall, traditionally a busy season on the cultural calendar.