John Huie Music Prod/EMI HKV.A.:Shanghai Jazz (AUS/HK,2003)***
As my previously made webpage explained (here), that there was a very interesting jazz and cabaret scene in Shanghai during the 20s to 50s, rooted in Chinese pop and adopting western influences to make a new local mix of entertainment, that was useful also to enrich attractive scenes of songs in movies, from the last couple of years the amount of reissues and compilations, mostly made in the independent Chinese areas of Hong Kong, deserves this renewed attention. At the same time there had been an American/Chinese connection of jazz influences. I did already mention before Buck Clayton, who had a big band in Shanghai in the mid-30s, and later went on to perform with the Count Basie Orchestra in New York, just to name one such influence or connection.
The Australian-based John Huie in 1991 established a company in Hong Kong of sound design for Pan-Asian film, where he used both Hong Kong & western musicians for this purpose. It didn’t take long before he established a tribute to the Shanghai jazz scene. The focus is not so much on re-invoking the song approach and the specific atmosphere and sensitivity of the song driven expressions by the diva’s', but much more the jazz root especially. The context switches a bit to a more modern middle sized jazz band and to jazz itself, much more from a warm American jazz swing nature than revealing too much of a music hall nature or cabaret song. Never the less, they know which songs still are remembered, and which songs made connections between both worlds. “The love you can’t get” becomes less like an underground expression, more that of jazz cinema entertainment. We have “give me a kiss” known by Patsy Cline, in a Chinese version, “Avalon” known from Grapelli / Reinhart, but also a few Chinese ballads / songs that were turned into jazz tracks, and a few dramatic love songs from the cabaret and also movie context days. The reference in the tracks are to different time areas but feel in a modern sound like entertainment.