Jazz: reflection of Chinese open-mindedness

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David Moser plays piano. (Photo provided by Moser)

The introduction and gradual popularity of jazz music in China reflects Chinese increasing open-mindedness and deepening understanding of different cultures.

This is the comment made by David Moser, an American who has been playing piano with various jazz groups in Beijing over 20 years.

David Moser, or "Mo Dawei" in Chinese, came to China in 1987.

He once earned a master degree in music in the United States, but eventually changed his academic interest to linguistics for his PhD research.

Seeing the development potential of jazz in China quickly rekindled his enthusiasm about music.

“In 1980s, few people in China knew what jazz was,” Moser recalled. “Until the mid-1990s, people started to hear and learn jazz.”

In his memory, although the influx of jazz was still a trickle, people started to show much interest and curiosity of this new kind of music.

“I started to take part in jazz groups at that time, but found out that the musicians didn’t know much about jazz harmony. So I would teach them the jazz chords, and the music theory,” said Moser.

“This includes some famous musicians like Cui Jian, who played trumpet. I went over to his house and we played jazz together. That’s how I got to know all of these musicians and got into the music world. It was very exciting,” he added.

In fact, the band Moser played in at San Wei Bookstore during that time turned out to be one of the earliest and steadiest jazz gig in Beijing.

At around the 2000s, the jazz scene boomed, as many Chinese musicians had access to different new styles of music they had never heard before.

“The same thing happened with movies,” said Moser. “People suddenly had access to the whole world of culture there. It was an incredible change.”

Chinese musicians started to collect jazz albums and had their favorite jazz musicians.

“They sometimes knew more than I did,” Moser added.

As a big fan of jazz, Moser is delighted that Beijing now has a lot of good jazz musicians, who are able to perform on any international festival stage and make China proud.

For himself, being part of the Beijing music world at a time when jazz was just becoming known in China and witnessing how Chinese people learn and develop that musical language are the most memorable.

Moser said, he has experienced one of the most important changes in China -- people’s increasing acceptance and deepening understanding of cultures that are different from their own.

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