Li Gao Yang: Locks, Stock and Smoking Barrel
At present, Li doesn't have what he calls a "serious" CD, though he has a self- produced live recording from last year's Hong Kong International Jazz Festival. That may change in 2013, though Li says that it will be more smooth jazz and pop than traditional jazz. So, won't there be any of his beloved bebop or hard bop then? Li laughs at the suggestion, and his answer reflects the challenges of growing jazz in China: "That is not possible. I would need to spend a lot of money to record a CD and that type of jazz won't sell in China."
The market in China for traditional, or classical jazz CDs, may be small, but there is a growth in the number of jazz festivals throughout the country. This means that more bands from around the world are bringing their various styles of jazz to a curious, and very young, Chinese audience. The Beishan International Jazz Festival is just one example of this growth: "This year is better than last year," observes Li. "The bands are better. It's a fantastic festival and I wish it well. I would love to come back and play here again."
The BIJF would no doubt love to have one of China's most outstanding jazz musicians grace its festival again, and so too would the audience, who greeted Li's quartet performance with such enthusiasm. With a very solid foundation already, a passion for the music-and Sonny Rollin's encouragement ringing in his ears-it's clear that Li is going to keep on blowin' for a very long time to come.
Page 1: Xiaojing Lee
All Other Photos: Courtesy of Li Gao Yang