Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: renlai concert
Thursday, 01 September 2011 16:45

Funky World

Usi AJ  (Photo courtesy of Morris Tsai)

When a little birdie told me about the Renlai World Music concert at TienEducationCenter on August 19, I felt that as a citizen of the world, I should be experiencing all kinds of music.

And it was free and I had a hot date.

In my mind, world music is a conglomerate of pony-tailed musicians wearing baggy-clothes sitting around on pillows cross-legged playing sitars and didgeridoos.

Published in
Renlai Music

Thursday, 11 August 2011 14:46

Experience the Bodega

I’m Dionne Machado, I come from Canada and I have been living in Taiwan for two years, teaching English and attempting to learn Chinese. In the first days of July, a friend invited me to a Concert of World Music in Taipei. The title was strange but reasonably catchy: “Sombreros, Sandals and Smiles”. It was a free event, as well, so it’s not like I’d be out of pocket if it was crap. So on Saturday, 9th of July, I grabbed a nice little dress from my wardrobe and followed the directions to get there. The concert was taking place in a small Spanish restaurant, hidden in the labyrinth of lanes of Zhongshan MRT area. After getting lost several times, I finally found the restaurant called “La Caja de Música”, which means the music box in Spanish. The place was already quite crowded and there was a nice atmosphere. I snuck some tapas, grabbed a glass of sangria and started mingling.

The metallic and reedy notes that wound their way up from the basement, signalled the start of the show. I was standing on the stairs as there were already no more seats downstairs and caught the finale of Luo Chao Yun, a female pipa player who was experimenting with a slide technique on her instrument with all kind of objects. You could feel the tension created by the extreme concentration of the performer. The second band, which comprised of a guzheng player, a percussionist, a saxophonist and a pianist joined the pipa player on stage for a bit of improv. I’ve never heard anything like it, and, if I’m honest, I still can’t say if I liked it or not. It was just... new and surprising! It seemed to me like it had a narrative to it, like a detective story told by an anguished pipa.

After briefly introducing themselves, the second band, Ka Dao Yin, launched into their own musical tale. The saxophone evoked for me the black and white movies from the fifties with its deep lamento, while the staccato of the guzheng seemed to provoke a feeling of urgency, and then the layer of stasis was there too, with the psychedelic waves of the organ (or the organ setting on a keyboard). They also improvised other pieces that had a quicker rhythm or a different colour to them (but which were all quite cinematic to me). I don’t know much about music, but it seems like improvisation is first of all a matter of resonances and correspondences, like a continued dialogue between two instruments which become the extensions of the musicians who wield them. Unfortunately, this kind of place might not have been the most appropriate for that kind of music as you could still hear the laughter and chatter of the people in the restaurant, which diminished a little the dramatic intensity of the show.

More wine and tapas during the interval got me in a good mood for the last band, Alma Itana. I hadn’t heard of them either, but I was highly excited by the idea of hearing a combination of different influences, latin, flamenco and reggae. And I was not disappointed! There was a real energy and a tangible connection between the musicians who apparently vary their set from gig to gig. That night there was about 8 of them cramped on the little stage, literally sweating out their enthusiasm and visibly enjoying the music together with the audience. The atmosphere was infectious, so much so that the owners of the restaurant, who also play in the band, left the bar unattended to join the jam session. The basement was transformed into a dancing bodega and the temperature rose by 10 degrees in an instant! I emerged from the basement soaked in sweat, but with a really big smile on my face. The experience even made me revisit the Gypsy Kings’ album that had gotten lost in the innards of my PC, and put it back on my ipod, in an attempt to recapture the rhythm of that night.

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Photos by Morris Tsai


Videos excerpts from the concert at La Caja de Musica


Next concert will take place on August 19th at the Tien Educational Center in Taipei city (First Floor auditorium, N.22, section 1, Xinhai road). More info here.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011 00:00

Jam Apotheosis

After producing the CD of contemporary world music, eRenlai magazine facilitated three concerts with the participating artists in the compilation. A dozen or so different bands performed their music live to the joy of the audience. For this third and final performance, on September 16, the Tien Educational Center opened its doors to world music for the second time, and it was fitting surroundings, with sound system and lights ready to create an unforgettable night.

Viba and Claire Juan (Photo: C. Tuduri)

From the outset we were embraced by the presence of Viba, previously introduced to me as Paul, I didn’t recognize him and thought he was part of Orbit Folks since we were all on stage doing the sound setup before the concert. It was then I realized that the night was going to blend of different musical styles until the lights went out.

Viba presented his chillout-electronic-world beat on stage with singer Claire Juan. Doing this live requires a lot of talent and knowledge since Viba has a daunting setup of synthesizers, drum machines and one computer. A one-man band triggering crazy ambient samples and loops of smooth rhythms, more than appropriate to open the evening.

Orbit Folks were next on stage, with Martijn Vanbuel (double bass), Toshihiro Wakaike (Indian tabla) and Mike Zeng (piano) combining elements of jazz and tabla to bring us some outer space rhythms. There was an interesting contrast between the Folks and Viba, since their ensemble is completely acoustic whereas Viba is mostly electronic. The band's performance was impressive, all of their members have a strong musical background that was gently delivered to the audience. As in any other jazz concert they included a lot of improvisation showing their mastery of the instruments and preparing the ground for the next band. They played some of their songs like Anouar, Santur and Serenade composed by Martijn Vanbuel and Caravan (by Juan Tizol, arr. by Martijn Vanbuel) and Rahu (by Toshihiro Wakaike, arr. by Martijn).

Comprised of Louis Goldford (soprano sax) Lio Pinard (accordion), Martijn Vanbuel (piano), Kelvin Chuang (bass) and Weichung Lin (drums), Flâneur Daguerre were the next surprise, further raising the excitement in the same hall that once held Taiwan’s first absurdist theatre troupe. Their performance developed finely. I felt like there were fireworks shooting from the stage. The immersion of their music in complexity enabled the band to grab the attention of the audience at all moments. I would love to see this band again; in fact as I write this paragraph I am listening to the track Harvest Drums included in the CD.

The next performance was from Minkoku Hyakunen (Yingfan Huang and You-Sheng Zhang). These guys come from the school of noise and improvisation. They use sounds of all sorts as their source, in stark contrast to the previous bands' use of musical notes. Minkoku's highlight is their stage performance, full of gestures and symbols that are close to a theatrical set and bursting with interesting atmosphere. Their instruments come from temples, such as bells and cymbals in addition to other sound objects. The audience clearly expressed their gratitude at the end of their performance.

Up next was Fao, playing his "Mamba in Solitude" including sampled Chinese flutes, guqin (古琴), Indian tabla and electronic sounds permeating through the crowds. Fao is a Colombian composer searching for new sounds in Asia. We thoroughly enjoyed his piece since it is a mixture of Latin rhythms (such as cumbia) with Chinese instruments around an Amazonian ritual.

To close the night Fao, Louis Goldford and myself quickly schemed together a few guidelines to improvise on for the grand finale with the rest of the participating musicians. On stage we had tabla, two saxophones, guitar, electronics, piano, drums, double bass and more. This was the first time we had played together and it erupted into an explosion of excitement rippling through the whole theater, the perfect was to close this celebration of the meeting of cultures and music.

Overall the CD and the concerts were a success and this was an admirable gesture from Renlai to provide the infrastructure and vision to put this idea together and hopefully provide the building blocks for future world music development in Taiwan. I just hope this is not the last time it happens. Thanks to all the musicians who participated in the CD. And thanks too to the enthusiastic public who embraced this mixture of music.

Renlai Concert #3 - Part 1

Renlai Concert #3 - Part 2

Videos filmed and edited by Pinti Zheng

{rokbox album=|myalbum|}images/stories/concert_renlai_3/moysan/*{/rokbox}
Photos courtesy of Paul Moysan



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