Live from Beijing: David Moser and Jess Meider on jazz in China


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Part of the Bookworm Literary Festival from The Bookworm in Sanlitun.

This week’s podcast was recorded live on March 13 at The Bookworm in Beijing as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival, which is why you’ll notice the prolonged and decidedly rambunctious audience pop at the start of the show. No matter where Sinica goes, it’ll always be most enthusiastically received in the city where it began.

The entire episode is a hoot, as SupChina Asia managing editor Anthony Tao sat in for Kaiser and Jeremy to talk music with longtime jazz musicians David Moser (no stranger to Sinica listeners) and Jess Meider.

Moser is currently associate dean of Yenching Academy at Peking University, but his true passion is jazz. He studied music as an undergrad in the U.S. before moving to China, where he happened upon a band at a place called Maxim’s in 1993. You’ll need to listen to get the story. Other highlights include his explaining of swing (11:25), retelling of particular adventures translating for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (22:30 mark), and what makes for good jazz (31:45 — including a Charles Mingus anecdote, featuring one of the three times we had to press the bleep button on him).

Jess Meider has spent more than two decades singing in China, and can still be seen (and heard) around Beijing. She was previously the resident jazz artist at East Shore Jazz Club and booker/resident artist at Chao Hotel. She’s worked with Cui Jian, the father of Chinese rock ‘n’ roll, and voiced a part in his movie Blue Sky Bones. She talks about that experience just before the 19-minute mark. Also listen to what she has to say about playing with Chinese musicians (30-minute mark) and her thoughts on the future of jazz in China (39:45).

Be sure to stick around for the musical performance at the end.


David: The young Chinese jazz pianist A Bu 阿布 (real name Dai Liang 戴梁), who is a prodigy. “Very modest and unassuming, but the future of Chinese jazz right there,” Moser says. “He grew up listening to it.” Check out videos of him playing here and here.

Jess: Contemporary jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, who is relatively new on the scene but is amazing. (She won a Grammy last year for her album Dreams and Daggers; here she is singing You’re My Thrill from that album.)

Anthony: Three recommendations:

1. The American Jazz Museum coupled with the Negro Leagues Museum in the 18th and Vine District of Kansas City, Missouri. (Tao grew up in Kansas City — though on the Kansas side of State Line.)

2. Contemporary poetry: Poetry 180 (a project of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, highlighting contemporary poems) and the Poetry Foundation podcast.

3. The Bookworm Literary Festival: May we all spread the lore of The Bookworm and the Bookworm Literary Festival ever far and forever. It is truly special.