Since a couple of weeks the JZ Club in Shanghai has a Big Band playing on Saturday night, the JZ All Star Big Band. And it’s a huge success, despite the fact you have to pay to get in (30 RMB), which is still quite unusual in China.
The band is led by Rolf Becker, a very talented band leader who also arranges a lot of the music himself. Over the past year Rolf and his wife have become good friends of us, and we try to watch his performances in the JZ Club and other venues at least twice a month. I actually met Rolf through this weblog: I once wrote about the first performance of the Shanghai Jazz Orchestra (also set up by Rolf) and he read that post and contacted me by email.
Before watching the show Qi and I had dinner at Latina in Xintiandi. Latina is one of the many Brazilian BBQ places in town, and in my opinion one of the better ones. Xintiandi is a very upscale and therefore pricy location, but the all-you-can-eat buffet is still only 128 RMB per person. They compensate that with the drink prices, a Tsingtao is over 40 RMB for a small bottle! The meat is excellent here. The waiters keep coming to your table with freshly grilled steaks, pork, sausages, chicken wings, and all other kinds of meat. So you have to seriously watch out that you don’t eat too much.
Around 11 PM we then arrived at JZ, just before the performance started. We managed to sit quite close to the stage (thanks Amira!), but soon afterwards the jazz club was so crowded that new arrivals had to go upstairs to be able to see the band. The big band played two sets, with mainly famous songs. During the second set they even put the club into Christmas mood by performing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, the first time I heard a big band play that! The whole performance was great, and the audience even asked for (and got) an encore.
Although the JZ club is getting too small now already, I would absolutely recommend you to watch one of the big band’s performances at this club, located on Fuxing Lu, close to Ulumuqi Lu. It’s fantastic. They start every Saturday around 11 PM, but that can be a bit later as well. But come early if you want a seat. I was told that JZ made a live recording last night, so soon the JZ Big Band will be available on CD as well.