Upcoming gigs

By Sun Shuangjie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-21 17:33:01

Guitar meets pipa plus celebration of Cuban music

Fade to Blue

David Chen, who was born and raised in the US, is a music virtuoso saturated in blues, jazz and country music. About a decade ago he went to live in Taiwan, where he works with different groups of musicians.

He plays mandolin, guitar and sometimes drums with Taiwanese guitarist Lo Si-rong, who sings in Hakka dialect. He also tours Taiwan with his band, Muddy Basin Ramblers, playing blues, folk and swing with a wide range of instruments and daily objects such as vases and washboards.

Fade to Blue is one of his projects with pipa player Chung Yu-feng, which started in 2014. Pipa is a traditional Chinese plucked string instrument.

For the past 10 years, Chung has been experimenting with the pipa in collaboration with musicians from around the world.

Fade to Blue sees East meet West as audience will hear the vast possibilities of how the Chinese pipa can mix with blues guitar.

Chen uses a resonator guitar and a 12-string guitar during the collaboration. This Saturday, the duo will share its latest creations at On Stage.

The Global Times spoke with them in the run-up to the show.

GT: Yu-feng, you started as a traditional pipa player. How did you start to find more possibilities in your playing?

Chung: Actually, it was a gradual process for me to discover the possibilities. I started to do crossover projects at a period when I was tired of playing traditional pipa compositions, which couldn't offer me pleasure as a musician or an artist.

Through collaborations with other musicians and dialogue with other cultures, I became more aware of the specific features of the pipa and its new possibilities.

GT: How does it feel to collaborate with each other? Do either of you take the lead in the creative process?

Chung: It's challenging and fun. Pipa and guitar each belong to a different music system. A guitarist thinks with chords, but a pipa player uses linear thinking.

I had experiences playing with guitarists before Fade to Blue, but I didn't presume anything with David. We play together freely and gradually have some natural yields.

Chen: It's exciting because it's challenging to play some of her pieces, so it pushes me to really be on top of my game, pushes me to really pay a lot of attention to what's happening.

Whoever takes the lead depends on the song. For example, Yu-feng has a song called "Qipaizi" (lit, seven beats). It has a very elaborate, very specific structure and different changes in the mood, so with that song, I just adapted my guitar playing for it.

Since we started working together, I've written a few songs. My songs are a bit simpler. Some songs I write with her instrument in mind.

I give her the space to improvise and see what she does, and that's really quite joyful because when I present the idea to her I just let her go and take it where she thinks it should go.

GT: Have you released any records under the name Fade to Blue?

Chen: We're preparing one right now, we just finished recording. We have a live album that we recorded from four or five concerts that we did all around Taiwan. And we plan to release it in March, hopefully.

GT: Tell us about your playlist for this Shanghai gig.

Chen: We have a repertoire that has about 13 or 14 songs. It's a wide range of moods, some of Yu-feng's compositions are thoughtful and slow, some of them are very interesting.

One of her songs is inspired by her experiences in Egypt. Some sound classical, and some are based on Mongolian rhythms.

Yu-feng is very much interested in different folk music, and for me I like blues and folk, so there will be a lot of improvisation and jamming, and it will be fun.

Date: Saturday 8:30 pm

Venue: On Stage

Address: Room 101, Bldg A2, 570 Huaihai Road West


Tickets: 80 yuan ($12.16) for presale and 100 yuan at door

Call 6212-6991 for details

Buena Vista Friends Club

Photos: Courtesy of the event organizers

In 1998, the album Buena Vista Social Club, produced by American guitarist Ry Cooder who recorded with various musicians in Cuba during a trip there, won a Grammy for the Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album and Tropical/Salsa Album, and earned worldwide attention for traditional Cuban music.

The album was also ranked among the 500 greatest albums of all time by the Rolling Stone in 2003, and has sold more than 12 million copies by 2015.

On January 30, Shanghai Oriental Art Center will stage a concert that pays tribute to this album with a group of veteran musicians from Cuba, some of whom participated in the recording of the legendary album.

Date: January 30, 7:30 pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center

Address: 425 Dingxiang Road


Tickets: 120 yuan to 580 yuan

Call 400-650-1688 for details

Posted in: Music, Metro Shanghai, About Town

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