A performance video featuring jazz bassist Vincent Hsu (徐崇育) and his ensemble, Soy La Ley Afro-Cuban Jazz Band, premiered on Facebook on Friday.
The performance was the result of a collaboration between the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in New York and the Rhode Island-based organizer FirstWorks.
The video is to be available on the FirstWorks Web site (http://first-works.org/events/vincent-hsu-soy-la-ley-afro-cuban-band) until Friday.
The performance, titled “Jazz Changed, Jazz Changes, Jazz Changin’,” aims to show that jazz is alive and well beyond its birthplace, and as suggested by the title, shows how the genre is always evolving, the organizer said.
The video also features interviews with prominent musicians and academics, including Hsu’s mentor, bassist Cecil McBee, historian Loren Schoenberg, drummer and educator Jerome Jennings, and poet and writer Naomi Extra.
“Jazz is one of the ultimate fashions of expressing oneself, especially because it is spontaneous. No wonder the world at large loves this music, because it never repeats itself,” McBee said.
The video was shot in four locations: Tianhou Temple (天后宮) in Changhua County’s Lukang Township (鹿港), the Jianguo Market in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店), the Museum of Old Taiwan Tiles in Chiayi County and the Lavender Cottage tourist area in Taichung.
The music changes and shifts in each location, becoming attuned to the local area while maintaining the essence of jazz, organizers said.
“I think the definition of jazz is the tradition, and the tradition is whatever it is you. The second thing is contemporary times and contemporary culture. And you add those two things, and you get what I think is jazz of 2020,” Schoenberg has said.
Hsu has been heavily influenced by New York’s Spanish Harlem, where he launched his music career, and his music brings together elements of New York jazz, Latin music, African polyrhythms and Taiwanese composition.
During a tour in 2019, Hsu told reporters that an Asian man playing jazz in the US was similar to a foreigner performing in gezai opera in Taiwan.
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