Ted Lo, Hong Kong’s “godfather of jazz”, made his name in New York’s best music venues before returning to Hong Kong to help develop the city’s jazz scene with innovative performances


Ted Lo, known as Hong Kong’s “godfather of jazz”, didn’t grew up in a musical family; his father and three brothers all went into architecture. Yet playing rock ’n’ roll with his brothers for fun sparked the idea of pursuing a music degree, and the gift of a bossa nova recording from a family friend turned his focus from pop to jazz. In 1976, Lo became the first Chinese graduate of the Berklee College of Music in the United States, and started working as a jazz pianist in Boston, going on to perform with great names such as rock legend Al Kooper, flautist Herbie Mann, and Girl From Ipanema singer Astrud Gilberto.

Lo made a name for himself in New York City and Los Angeles, having performed in the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club and multiple jazz festivals, then returned home in 1996. As well as playing in shows, he has dedicated time to tutoring students, advising them and helping them to realise their music dreams.

He is active when it comes to performing: three years ago, he collaborated with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra to create fusion music, and he has appeared regularly at the annual Freespace Jazz Fest at West Kowloon. Coming up, he will put on an evening of jazz in collaboration with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, his largest collaboration to date. His work with the two orchestras has been a learning curve: both with working out how to adapt jazz for Chinese instruments, and with arranging jazz for a full orchestra. “As a musician, learning about music and its possibilities is endless.”

As a musician, learning about music and its possibilities is endless.

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Did you know?

Ted Lo is the uncle of Hong Kong American singer-songwriter Justin Lo.

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