Bei Bei & Shawn Lee - Into The Wind
Ubiquity To Release Bei Bei & Shawn Lee - Into The Wind Worldwide Release On January 26, 2010
Into the Wind by Guzheng performer/composer Bei Bei He and Ubiquity Records producer Shawn Lee marries a unique blend of ancient tradition with studio trickery. This uplifting, genre-bending sound clash, recalls the afro centric harping of Dorothy Ashby and hypnotic spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane. With Lee adding equal doses of hip hop, electric jazz, and soul sensibility to the backing tracks, the captivating sound of Bei Bei's Guzheng comes alive on peaceful mellow joints as much as it does on Kung-Fu flavored funk tunes.
Falling in love with the 5 foot tall x 1 foot wide 21-stringed Chinese instrument at first sight, Bei Bei began playing at the age of seven. While studying the Guzheng at a music conservatory in Hong Kong in 2002, Bei Bei developed an interest in jazz and groove-based music and hoped to make those styles with her instrument one day. Eight years later, now residing in Southern California, Bei Bei was contacted by Shawn Lee about making a record in the way she'd previously dreamed of, and she jumped at the opportunity.
These days it's not uncommon for artists to swap tracks and build tunes over the internet. But, in this case, the artists had to drop their guards, throw caution to the wind, and learn about each other's very different crafts as they went. Meeting only once, in person, the two emailed and swapped files for about a year to complete the record.
"Shawn was inspired by some of the traditional music that I play," she explains. "It took both of us being committed, fully self-expressed, inspired, connected to make this album happen."
The initial burst of inspiration led to the birth of early pieces like "Make Me Stronger" and "Bei's Bossa," which were new creations based on ancient tunes. The label was so excited by these two that they shared them with label mates and this is how Georgia Anne Muldrow ended up singing on the entrancing "Make Me Stronger," and later on "Willingness."
Ubiquity released a limited edition 10" EP, featuring tracks from the album, to positive acclaim from Berlin to Los Angeles, with KCRWs Garth Trinidad calling the tracks "A ray of light in my world," and BBC Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbes saying "Love love love this." At time of press Lee and Bei Bei were discussing plans for a few special live shows.
The Guzheng is over 2000 years old and belongs to the Asian long zither family. It was used in both folk and court music in the ancient China. Bei Bei started received her professional musical training at the Central University of Nationalities in Beijing, China and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong. She is a multi-award winner of many national and international awards. As a studio musician, she recorded for Sci-fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica". As a composer, she composed music and performed for the China Central TV documentary series "Dun Huang". She released her debut album Quiet Your Mind And Listen in 2006 and her collaborative album Heart of China, with Richard Horowtiz, in 2008. She is the director of Lotus Bud Gu Zheng Studio in Orange County, CA, where she teaches students to play and perform.
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