SmartShanghai have shown us the way. What was once the JZ festival is now the Shanghai Music Festival, and they have just announced the lineup. SmartShanghai has it in full HERE. You can reach the JZ Music Festival Shanghai (yeah, we don’t really know what it is called) in its full glory HERE.
From a Chinese “star power” perspective, the lineup has most certainly stepped up its game. Wang Xiaokun, Zhang Xuan, Zheng Jun will all get the poppets up and attem.
The problem here is a problem that we see across all genres of Chinese music, and a problem that is more than apparent whenever you look at an artist lineup. The talent pool is just so freaking small. This is a result of a half century of underdevelopment – creativity was a bad word, and “I want to be a musician” was a sentence that every Chinese parent feared and nearly all disregarded. In a country where education is revered above all else, there is still a major push for kids of all stripes to be academic, although this is changing slowly with Chinese classical icons like Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang (郎朗) inspiring extra curricular piano lessons and sales of the ivory keys in unprecedented number. We believe that it will still be another generation (if ever) before kids are encouraged to take after Xiao Rong (肖容) or even Kaiser Kuo \ m/
We digress. The fact is that for a festival that promised a lot (both in potential and in words), the lineup is a bit disappointing. The international component is much weaker than in 2008 (save Dee Dee Bridgewater, but that is indoors and extra $$), there are fewer local jazz musicians and the lineup has been “popularized” with the additions of the artists mentioned above, who you could see at any one of China’s festivals this year, or even at one off shows in Shanghai (Zhang Xuan has been to Shanghai twice in the last 2 months). And this leads us back to our original point – this isn’t completely the organisers fault – there just isn’t that much to choose from.
But there are still some very positive points though. Century Park (if it is the part that we are thinking of) is a lush venue and we look forward to seeing how it all pans out there. This is now a relatively long running event, which can only be good for music in Shanghai, so well done and congratulations to the JZ crew for getting it done.