A new kind of sound — a fusion of Chinese and Latin music just had its debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall featuring Chinese artist Dongfeng Liu. While the two genres seemingly have little in common, the combination is an inspiration. Our correspondent Karina Huber has more.
This is what you hear when you mix Chinese instruments with Latin beats.
It’s a sound created by Chinese composer Dongfeng Liu who studied classical piano in China but always had an interest in jazz.
DONGFENG LIU COMPOSER AND LATIN JAZZ PIANIST “Jazz music is always changing. Like you know Monk, John Coltrane, he can change style, change rhythm, change some elements. My heart you know – I have Chinese blood so I want to make different Miles, different Charlie Parker. It’s Chinese jazz. It’s Chinese Latin Jazz.”
Liu spent time in Cuba learning first-hand about Latin jazz. This summer, he released an album called ‘China Caribe’ and performed some of the songs at Carnegie Hall in New York. Playing bass on the album is eight-time Grammy award winner John Benitez.
JOHN BENITEZ BASSIST “It has the drama, the freedom, the beauty of Chinese melodies with the intricate and spicy aspect of the Caribbean flavor.”
DONGFENG LIU COMPOSER AND LATIN JAZZ PIANIST “They like because they can listen jazz music, they can listen Chinese melody. Even some Latino people come here. They can dance.”
On the face of it, Chinese and Latin music are very different. Chinese music is more restrained and jazz is more experimental but Benitez says there are some common ties.
JOHN BENITEZ BASSIST “Some of the melodies have pentatonic roots. So you can connect those with certain sounds coming out of the African diaspora too.”
Liu and Benitez have also forged a friendship through the collaboration. But they admit they have difficulty sometimes understanding each other.
JOHN BENITEZ BASSIST “The music unites us. When we don’t understand each other, the music will unite us. But he’s learning Spanish and I’m starting to learn Chinese so we working on that.”
That personal connection is centered around a love of music and the hope to introduce new audiences to this unique fusion of music.
DONGFENG LIU COMPOSER AND LATIN JAZZ PIANIST “If I ask you – what is Chinese jazz – before you didn’t realize it, right? So this is my focus, this is my next step.”
KARINA HUBER NEW YORK “This concert marks the first time Afro-Caribbean beats have been fused with Chinese instrumentation at Carnegie Hall. The hope is it won’t be the last. Karina Huber, CGTN, New York.”