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The Shanghai Restoration Project: Reinventing Shanghai Jazz
The Shanghai Restoration Project's latest album, "The Classics feat. Zhang Le", features modern interpretations of Shanghai Jazz standards from the early 1900s
By Suzanne Lin
(more articles from this author)
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The Shanghai Restoration Project, a contemporary group produced by Dave Liang that infuses the timbres of Chinese instruments with elements of hip-hop and electronic music, recently dropped a new album titled "The Classics feat. Zhang Le". As the group was inspired by the rise of Shanghai jazz bands in the 1930s, it only seems fitting that the new album features a modern take on 12 Shanghai jazz classics that date back to the 30s and 40s.

"The Classics feat. Zhang Le" further lives up to its name by showcasing the aforementioned singer's musical talent, in addition to Emmy-winning producer Dave Liang's. Zhang Le is a jazz singer and composer who specializes in adding American jazz accents to traditional Chinese folk songs, making her an ideal pick to convey the selected classics in the new album. The harmonious collaboration between Dave Liang and Zhang Le is apparent in "Si Ji Ge", which translates to "Song of Four Seasons" in English. The song tells of the singer's longing for her lover throughout all four seasons. While the original recording, sung by Zhou Xuan in the 1937 movie "Street Angel", conveys the melancholy sentiment through the use accompanying Chinese instruments such as the erhu, Dave Liang offers a fresh, modern take on the classic by infusing it with a laid-back hip hop beat. Paired with Zhang Le's lush, soothing vocals, Dave Liang succeeds in giving voice to a calmer, more wistful take on "Si Ji Ge".

However, The Shanghai Restoration Project's new album does more than highlight Zhang Le's spin on classic Shanghai jazz. While she is the apparent star of the show, lending her vocals to 10 of the 12 tracks, "The Classics" actually features different artists for its opening and closing curtain. It is Zhou Yi, a prodigious pipa player, who kicks off the album in her heartfelt rendition of "Paris of the East", the only purely instrumental track on the album. Interestingly enough, The Shanghai Restoration Project ends their album on another different note—the last track, "Age of Innocence" features Dave Liang's soft voice crooning in English.

Fans and music enthusiasts interested in experiencing The Shanghai Project's unique sound live are in luck, as the group is planning an ambitious tour around China this coming May, playing 9 shows in 9 different cities in just 12 days.

Date City
May 16, 2014 Beijing,
May 17, 2014 Shanghai,
May 18, 2014 Xi'an,
May 20, 2014 Chengdu,
May 21, 2014 Chongqing,
May 23, 2014 Wuhan,
May 24, 2014 Changsha,
May 25, 2014 Guangzhou,
May 27, 2014 Shenzhen,

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