A Century of Jazz in Shanghai 上海爵士一百年

地点: Room E101, NYU Shanghai New Bund Campus
Date & Time:
2024-3-22 | 16:00-18:00

Produced by Shanghai historian Andrew Field, this 80-minute independent documentary film explores the long and tumultuous history of jazz in Shanghai over the past century.

During the 1930s, Shanghai was the jazz capital of China and East Asia. Ballroom dance halls abounded, and American, Russian, Japanese, and Filipino orchestras played to dancing crowds, and a golden generation of Chinese songstresses sang Chinese pop tunes to jazzy rhythms. By the 1940s, Chinese jazz orchestras were emerging out of the ashes of the war with Japan. Then came the great revolution of 1949, and the city’s identity as a global jazz metropolis quickly faded away. Who brought jazz back to Shanghai and to China after a generation of revolutionary upheaval under Chairman Mao?

This film answers that question. Filmed between 2004 and 2021, the film features interviews and performance footage of the people who built the city’s jazz and blues scenes over the past 25 years or more. These include Lin Dongfu, owner of the House of Blues & Jazz and Ren Yuqing, founder of the JZ Club. Some of the city’s most popular and influential Chinese jazz musicians and singers are featured in the film, including Jasmine Chen, Coco Zhao, Wilson Chen, Peng Fei, Li Xiaochuan, and many others.

In addition, the film features profiles and interviews with musicians from abroad who helped to catalyze the revival of jazz in Shanghai. These include Graham Earnshaw, JQ Whitcomb, Alec Haavik, Lawrence Ku, Theo Croker, Jackie Stanton, Toby Mak, and others. Special attention is paid to the story of the Cotton Club and its founders Matthew Harding and Greg Smith. This club had a twenty-year run in the city and nurtured many fine musicians and singers in the city’s jazz and blues scenes.

The rise of these jazz-oriented clubs and scenes are also connected to the Shanghai Music Conservatory, which has served as a training ground for jazz artists in China over the past twenty years.

The story of the revival of jazz since the 1990s is backgrounded by the longer story of jazz in the city stretching back to the 1920s-1940s, when musicians such as Whitey Smith, Serge Ermoll, Li Jinhui, Teddy Weatherford, Buck Clayton, Lobing Samson, and Jimmy King first brought jazz to the city and made Shanghai dance. The voices of brave old Chinese jazzmen, who played through the Mao Years and the Cultural Revolution era of the 1960s, and then emerged to form the famous Peace Hotel jazz band, are also heard in this film.

Andrew Field is Associate Professor of Chinese History, Duke Kunshan University, where he teaches courses on Chinese History and Thought, the History of Shanghai, “China in the World”, and “Sounds and the Chinese City: Live Music Scenes in China”. He has published several books including Shanghai’s Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics (2010), Mu Shiying: China’s Lost Modernist (2014), Shanghai Nightscapes: A Nocturnal Biography of a Global City (2015) and Rocking China: Rock Music Scenes in Beijing, Shanghai and Beyond (2023). He has produced documentary films on music scenes in China including Down: Indie Rock in the PRC (2012) and A Century of Jazz in Shanghai (2021).

本次讲座主持为 Meiling Chen, Clinical Assistant Professor of Arts, NYU Shanghai.

Event Schedule

Screening of the documentary “A Century of Jazz in Shanghai” 上海爵士一百年, produced by Shanghai historian Andrew Field

Q&A session with Andrew

Special performances presented by DKU Jazz Ensemble & NYU Shanghai Jazz Ensemble



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