5 Hong Kong Musicians to Look Out for at Freespace Jazz Fest
Taking place from October 28 to 31, Hong Kong’s largest annual jazz festival returns with a strong local line-up at Freespace and Art Park in West Kowloon.
Taking place from October 28 to 31, Hong Kong’s largest annual jazz festival returns with a strong local line-up at Freespace and Art Park in West Kowloon. As well as traditional jazz, this year’s performances include jazz reinterpretations of classical pieces, and experimental music by rising talents and established acts which, according to Kung Chi-shing, the artistic associate (music) for performing arts of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, “offer surprising and exciting new perspectives on improvisation, adaptation and instrumentation”. Here are five Hong Kong musicians to look out for.
Joyce Cheung, pianist
Jazz pianist, arranger and composer Joyce Cheung is a frequent collaborator with pop singers and bands such as Joey Yung and Grasshopper. She released her debut album Set Loose last autumn. On top of performing, Cheung is active in music education work. She is the co-artistic director at Music Lab, a local non-profit organisation that provides a performance platform for and connects musicians, and a university lecturer in the jazz programme at the Education University of Hong Kong.
Cheung will be playing the keyboard in Joyce Cheung—Jazzical Collection alongside her 13-piece ensemble on the festival’s opening night, a show that took ten years to plan. It retraces Cheung’s musical roots and combines her interpretations of world renowned works including Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu.
Charles Hon Sun Ng, saxophonist
The budding soloist specialises in modern music. He has been collaborating with composers—including American composer Alvin Lucier, one of the first proponents of live electronic music—to create new music. “I believe a music performance is not only an auditory experience; the visual aspect is also a substantial part of it,” Ng says. “I continuously explore the possibilities of extending musical expressions through a theatrical approach, incorporating visual elements such as acting, staging and lighting.”
Ng is the co-founder of Exodium Collective, a Hong Kong-based organisation which brings together artists from different disciplines. He was a guest artist at the Vienna International Saxfest and Zurich International Saxfest, two of the most popular saxophone-focused music festivals in Europe.
Ng will be performing in Imaginarium—HK/Cologne, a real-time collaboration between musicians from Hong Kong and Germany combining virtual and real-life free improvisation.
Angelita Li, singer
Frequently appearing as a backing singer in concerts by local celebrities such as Hins Cheung, Joey Yung, Rubberband and Deanie Ip, this jazz singer is also a star in her own right. She currently has three solo albums, including Unique, Hong Kong’s first jazz vocal album in Chinese; and Caminhos Cruzados, recorded in Denmark with Grammy winner Hans Ulrik and Hong Kong’s top guitar player Eugene Pao. She has performed with established overseas artists such as Toninho Horta, and at last year’s Freespace Jazz Fest, wrote and performed the popular “Angelita Li Sings Billie Holiday with Patrick Lui Jazz Orchestra”.
This year, Li will be performing in Patrick Lui Jazz Orchestra featuring Janice Vidal and Angelita Li, where the trio will perform both familiar and original songs arranged for a big-band sound.
Ted Lo, pianist
Ted Lo was the first Chinese graduate of Berklee College of Music in the US in 1976. He moved to New York City and became a sideman for legendary flautist Herbie Mann and double bassist Ron Carter, and had a successful career as a jazz pianist performing in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco. When he returned to Hong Kong in 1996, he collaborated with local universities and organised community workshops and performances to raise awareness of the musical genre in his home city. He is still an active performer, having recently collaborated with fellow jazz powerhouse Eugene Pao, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Canto-pop diva Janice Vidal.
Lo will be performing in Spotlight on Bass—Tsang Tak-hong Quintet, where he and bassists Tsang Tak-hong and Guyshawn Wong, drummer Michael Salcedo and guitarist Tsui Chin-hung will showcase various jazz styles across generations.
Daniel Chu, pianist
Daniel Chu is an avant-garde music maker, who has studied under George W Russell Jr, the chair of the Harmony department at Berklee College of Music where Chu was a student; world-class pianist Kenny Werner; and lyrics professor Pat Pattison. He is a co-founder of local music group Manvsmachine, and has collaborated with the likes of Janice Vidal, Jill Vidal and Kiri.
Chu will perform alongside nine string players in Freespace Ensemble x Daniel Chu – Game Play, experimenting with improvisation, playing “tag” with renditions of repeated phrases. It will be a test of their understanding of jazz music as they spontaneously create new music.
October 28 to 31. Freespace, West Kowloon. Find out more at www.westkowloon.hk/