French musician stages jazz piano concert in Beijing

Xu Fei China Plus Published: 2018-05-09 16:04:09
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French musician Philippe LÉOGÉ receives flowers at the end of his solo jazz piano concert in Beijing on Saturday, May 5, 2018. [Photo: courtesy of Beijing Concert Hall]

French musician Philippe LÉOGÉ receives flowers at the end of his solo jazz piano concert in Beijing on Saturday, May 5, 2018. [Photo: courtesy of Beijing Concert Hall]

A piano concert featuring a unique solo improvisation by French musician Philippe LÉOGÉ was held recently in Beijing.

The French Jazz artist said he was excited to face the challenge that comes with improvisation in a solo show, and was delighted to pave a way for a potential collaboration with Chinese musicians.

Shen Ting has more.

Philippe LÉOGÉ's concert, called Swaying Melody, is comprised of 15 tunes, categorized in two parts: a Salute to French Songs, and a Salute to Duke Ellington.

The musician explains:

"I've played these tunes with other musicians. Perhaps, some of them are never in solo. It would be the first time tonight about Duke Ellington. But I know the tunes, of course, and later I take these elements and I improvise. So it's a risk, you know, because the music is not written. And I have to find inspiration. This is a new concept. In the jazz music, its spirit is improvisation."

In the early 1980s, Philippe LÉOGÉ' was the musical director, pianist, and arranger of the Big Band called " Garonne " .

In 2002, he decided to focus on his career as a soloist.

He has since recorded three albums, "Improvisualisations" in 2005, "Live at the Palais des Congrès" in 2007, and "My French Standards Songbook" in 2014.

"My French Standards Songbook" was named one of the 25 best Jazz albums by French magazines l'Express, Classica, and Pianiste.

LÉOGÉ hopes to encourage Chinese audiences to become accustomed to Jazz piano.

In the audience for LÉOGÉ's performance in Beijing was Wan Xiaoya (万小丫), a student with the Central Conservatory of Music Middle School.

"I've rarely seen Jazz piano music shows. My school is dominated by traditional, classical music, so I have little knowledge about Jazz piano. From my understanding, Jazz piano can generate a much richer variety of harmonies and style of melodies. It is not confined by the traditions of classical music, but allows for improvisation in the harmonies."

Performing in China is a new experience for LÉOGÉ', who has tour extensively including to Norway, Sweden, Germany, France,

"It's the first time I come here, the first time in Beijing and in China. There're many beautiful musicians, young pianists more and more than in France. But in Europe, there are many composers, the composers that compose all these music, classical music. I hope to collaborate with Chinese musicians, perhaps next year or later."

His show "Swaying Melody" at the Beijing Concert Hall is part of the concert hall's "International Classical Music Season", which is scheduled to run until November.

Lissy is project manager with the Concert Hall.

"Our years of experience suggests that there are few fans of Jazz piano in China. The jazz show would usually attract a relatively smaller audience to the venue. However, steady progress has been made in recent years. This year, around 70 percent of seats at the concert hall have been booked for the jazz piano performance. For several years, our concert hall has kept Jazz music as part of our classical music season in the hope that we can help foster the development of Jazz music in China."

Jazz piano emerged during the 1920s, predominantly in New York.

An acoustic piano or electric piano is used as an instrument of improvisation, with the left hand establishing the rhythm and the right hand providing the melody.

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