Bass man Huang Yong founded the Nine Gates Jazz Festival last year, because he felt there should be a jazz festival for a big city such as Beijing. He gave it the name "Nine Gates" a symbol of Beijing and the number of gates the old city used to have.
The second Nine Gates Jazz Festival will run from May 25 to 30 at the Forbidden City Concert Hall of Beijing, presenting 16 Chinese and international jazz groups.
Compared to last year, the festival has become both larger in scale and longer in running time. Last year, the festival only lasted for three days, and all of the musicians were from the local jazz scene.
Supported by some foreign embassies in China, this year's festival will see Didier Lockwood band and The New Glucose Jazz Septet from France, Steve Houben & Emil Viklicky from Belgium, Seligo Jazz Quartet and the Philipp Nykrin Trio from Austria, Rony Holan from Israel and the George Garanian Big Band from Russia.
During the festival, every concert will present a Chinese group and a foreign group. Some of the Chinese bands to play at the festival include the Beijing City Jazz Orchestra, Liu Yuan Jazz Band, Modern Pop Band, Tuanjie Lake Groove and Possicobilities Jazz Band.
"I hope the audience will learn about the difference of aesthetics between Eastern and Western musicians through this festival," said Huang, who will play in the Liu Yuan Jazz Band.
Actually, some local bands also have foreign members, such as American singer Jessica Meider in Jungle Cat, Japanese drummer Izumi Koga in Liu Yuan Jazz Band and Swedish bassist Tobias Demker in Tuanjie Lake Groove.
Apart from bands in Beijing, this year's festival will also have two bands from Shanghai, which was the first Chinese city where jazz music landed in the early 20th century.
They are Possicobilities Jazz Band, founded by Zhao Ke - a rare male jazz voice in China - and Lawrence Ku Septet, founded by Chinese-American guitarist Ku.
The festival will be opened by the Beijing City Jazz Orchestra, which has gathered some of the best jazz musicians in Beijing, including pianist Xia Jia and trumpeter Wen Zhiyong.
"I played at last year's Nine Gates Jazz Festival and will also play at this year's festival," said Liu Yuan, one of the best-known Chinese saxophonists and jazz activists.
"It's a jazz festival with strong Beijing characteristics. Though jazz is still something new in China, we want to demonstrate our love for the music through this festival."
The organizer set a quite low price for the tickets, ranging from 30 yuan to 280 yuan. There are also set tickets for the festival that cost 300 yuan or 600 yuan.
Besides concerts at the Forbidden City Concert Hall, some musicians from the festival will also play jam sessions in Beijing's jazz clubs and hold master classes in music schools.
More information is available at the festival's official website (both in Chinese and English): www.ninegate.com.cn.
(China Daily May 15, 2007)