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Hangar 18 Music House

23, Hsiang Shang Rd., sec. 1
(04) 3601-2389
Hours: 5 pm-1 am (to 2 am Fri/Sat)

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Getting a great fix of live jazz at Hangar 18

By Douglas Habecker

     If I had NT$10 for every time someone told me about a hot new jazz bar, only to find a saxophone-and-keyboard duo playing Kenny G tunes, Id be able to, well, afford one of the overpriced cocktails there. Therefore, I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical when I heard about yet another newly-opened jazz bar. However, the name of the place, Hangar 18 Music House, was intriguing. Better yet, I had the favorable reference of a friend who had been there a couple nights before.

     I got there fairly late, around 11 oclock, but the place was hopping. Hangar 18 was a spacious establishment with tables surrounding a large central performance area. These were full of patrons, including a foreigner or two, nodding and tapping to the rhythms coming from the five-person band. Further in the back, other customers sat at dimly-lit tables, against the red walls lined with photographs of famous musicans and bands. It had the dark, slightly smoky atmosphere that good jazz and music bars around the world seem to generate.

    Another mark of a good jazz bar is the focus of attention. Here, every eye and ear was concentrated on the band, and it soon became obvious why. Within 10 minutes, I was totally into the performance. A couple of covers led into a 15-minute jam session, with the guitarist, bass player, keyboard player and drummer taking their turns at some very impressive improv? the best Id ever heard in Taichung. The female lead vocalist was great, too, belting out songs with depth and soul. It went on and on, and I didnt want it to stop.

     My respect for Hangar 18 went up even further when I found it was owned by the musicians I had just enjoyed. Most of them are respected local music instructors and theyre clearly there to provide local music lovers with a venue for quality modern jazz, Latin and fusion. They perform every night from 9 p.m. on, except for Sundays, when the weekly Open Mic night when any musician can play.

    Most beers are around NT$160, cocktails are NT$180 and there is Fosters and Carlsberg on tap--only NT$398 for 2000cc Monday through Thursday and NT$500 on weekends, easily enough to cover the minimum NT$300 bill per person on Friday and Saturday. Chinese-style snacks and simple meals cost about NT$100 per dish.

     This a place for anyone who has ever complained that Taichung lacked decent live jazz. As it turned out, I was back again a couple nights later for another live-music fix and, once again, I left with a smile on my face.

 

 

ZGi
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