'Jazz The Way You Are': The Taichung
Jazz Festival marks its 10th year
Words by Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu
It is hard to think of a single event that better represents Taichung city's impressive cultural development and achievements over the past decade than the Taichung Jazz Festival does. Introduced in the early days of Mayor Jason Hu's fledgling administration, this unprecedented city festival started on a relatively modest scale and rapidly expanded into a world-class international celebration of jazz music and its creative spectrum of musical flavors. Today, it is not only Taiwan's largest annual jazz festival, but has found its way into the ranks of Asia's leading jazz events, attracting top artists from across the world and hundreds of thousands of visitors.
This year, the Oct. 20-28 2012 Taichung Jazz Festival is pulling out all the stops to mark its 10th anniversary with a broad array of international and local musical talent being showcased across nine non-stop days of performances, a re-expanded venue with three stages, and a variety of returning and all-new affiliated events. The festival's official annual hosting organization, the Taichung city government's Cultural Affairs Bureau, and other organizers have made the theme "Jazz The Way You Are" this landmark year's official theme/slogan and invited dozens of jazz groups and musicians from 10 different nations.
These include greats from America--the birthplace of this musical genre--like members of "New Orleans' first family of jazz", the Marsalis family (featured in Sept. Compass Magazine), performing for the closing-night concert. There is also famed New York saxophonist Greg Osby (voted 2009 "Jazz Artist of the Year" by Playboy magazine), American septet The Cookers, whose members are all jazz greats in their own right, and Latin jazz specialists The Rodriguez Brothers, nominated for Emmy, Golden Globe and Grammy Awards.
However, these Americans are just the tip of the musical iceberg. One of the biggest attributes of the Taichung Jazz Festival in recent year has been its successful efforts to showcase some of the most outstanding jazz musicians in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, not to mention a very eclectic variety of jazz styles, ranging from some of the earliest, most traditional sounds of jazz to more experimental varieties, Latin, rock, blues and other flavored styles of jazz, and more modern fusion and electronically-enhanced derivatives.
This year, famed Korean jazz pianist Jangeun Bae will perform with Osby for the festival's opening-night concert (see separate feature article). Also performing on stage during the week will be fellow Korean jazz great Francesa Han, accomplished Japanese jazz ensemble Eiji Nonaka Trio, and French pianist Remi Pannosian with his trio, promising to impress audience with romantic musical renderings. Foreign visitors won't be the only ones wowing audiences, either, as there is no better venue for experiencing Taiwan's impressive home-grown jazz talent, from big band style to more contemporary variations.
As always, the central venue for the festival is the grassy expanse known as Civic Square on GongYi Road in West District. Long-time fans of the Taichung Jazz Festival will also be very happy to hear that the event has also returned to the neighboring Calligraphy Greenway, which was closed for a complete makeover during last year's festival.
Besides the daily evening and weekend afternoon live performances, there are plenty of other related attractions and events. When festival visitors aren't lying on the grass of Civic Square or sitting in front of one of the satellite stages, their second most-favorite activity each year is undoubtedly browsing through the festival's many food/drink vendor stands, which attract massive crowds on their own and offer all manner of local and international cuisine. Jazz fans and aspiring musicians will also want to take advantage of the Jazz Master Classes, which provide opportunities to experience foreign guest artists up-close, and master forums held at Hotel ONE Oct. 21 and 27 with Greg Osby, Remi Panossian Trio with Frederika and others. The smaller stages will also host evening jazz-related movies that were nominated for or won Academy Awards. One added, all-new event this year is the opening-day "Jazz Parade" at 2 p.m. Starting from Civic Square and covering the surrounding area, this event invite the public to turn up with a "jazzy" style and/or commemorative Taichung Jazz Festival T-shirts from past years.
For a detailed schedule, updates, artist profiles and other Chinese/English information, go to the festival's official website http://www.taichungjazzfestival.com.tw, Facebook fan page http://www.facebook.com/taichungJAZZfestival, or call (02) 2711-2320, ext. 107 (Ms. Tsao) or ext. 116 (Ms. Chen).