All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

1

Li Xiaochuan: Initial

Nicholas F. Mondello By

Sign in to view read count
In China, one of the world's most ancient—and at times sheltered—civilizations, jazz music, which was once called "pornographic," has experienced a very robust re-emergence. For example, a recent multi-city tour in 5-digit capacity venues by Maestro Arturo Sandoval played to overflow SROs each night. And, there's even now a Blue Note in Beijing, a jazz club near the Great Wall, and many other jazz venues.

Trumpeter Li Xiaochuan, a leading Chinese jazz/classical trumpeter and educator (he teaches at Shanghai Conservatory and tours worldwide) is an example of this recent phenomenon. And with this release, Initial, Li confirms that jazz is not only alive and well in China, but that he, his group and this fine recording, are certainly worthy of even wider world-class recognition.

"Wang" kicks off the session, offering a slow rock groove with the trumpeter harmonizing. He covers the haunting, "call-response" melody slickly over a two-chord guitar/rhythm section base. "Initial" is a memorable, highly-energized motif played forcefully over a solid bed that is launched before great Tian Bai and Li solos. "Song for Pat," a slower groove, has Li introducing the melody in the trumpet's altissimo register. The composition is an apparent salute to Pat Metheny. "Zen Me Di" is a percussive, heart-beater with Li and Crew stop-timing and Li shading a later Miles Davis. The cut is hypnotically irresistible as it fireflies over Chris Trzcinski's marvelous set work.

Li plays bright and beautifully with great technique and high "chops" throughout. A stylist, he works effortlessly around the horn both melodically and improvisationally throughout. The accompanying rhythm section is highly involved and flawless on every cut. Keyboardist/pianist, Tian Bi and guitarist Xiongguan Zhang are superb soloists and accompanists. The collective vibe here is intensity and focus.

The variety of rhythmic textures across the date demonstrate Li's creative pen (he composed all) and also displays the breadth and range this talented group possesses (a Second Line-ish "Shanghai Blues," the gentle "Radio Music," the gorgeous Fei Peng-delivered "Yverdon," and the beautiful Chris Botti-esque Bossa "It's Time To ...").

Initial is a fine recording offering great emotion and passion. There's also a lot of elegance and joy here. It is no wonder that the album won the esteemed China Music Award. And, as would be said at the Beijing Blue Note, bù lā wò!

Track Listing: Wang; Initial; Song for Pat; Zen Me Di; Shanghai Blues; Radio Music; Yverdon; It's Time To ... ; Lan Hua Hua.

Personnel: Xiaochuan Li: trumpet and flugelhorn; Tian Bai: piano and keyboard; Xiongguan Zhang: guitar; Danny Zanker: bass; Chris Trzcinski: drums; Fei Peng: violin.

Title: Initial | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Sony Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Vol II CD/LP/Track Review
Vol II
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Months, Weeks and Days CD/LP/Track Review
Months, Weeks and Days
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Space Is The Place CD/LP/Track Review
Space Is The Place
by James Fleming
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Poetry in Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Poetry in Motion
by Liz Goodwin
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Live In London" CD/LP/Track Review Live In London
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "What Time Is It?" CD/LP/Track Review What Time Is It?
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Essential Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Essential Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "The Notebooks" CD/LP/Track Review The Notebooks
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 6, 2018
Read "Let Your Mind...Space Out" CD/LP/Track Review Let Your Mind...Space Out
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "44/876" CD/LP/Track Review 44/876
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 15, 2018