Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Closeminded Singaporeans

I recently purchased a coupla jazz CDs ... Shanghai Jazz .. 3 Shanghainese ladies, singing classic Chinese tunes. All arranged in a fusion of western styled Jazz musical arrangements and singing style. Very cool. This caucasian conceptualized and produced the CD.

I decided to play the disk in the jazz cafe last night cos I was so sure customers would enjoy it. Less than 1 and a 1/2 songs later, a table of 3 young women asked my waitress over and requested the CD be changed. Hmmm .... they said - we're not in the mood for such old tunes and we don't like these kind of music, please change the CD.

I changed it to the Ella & Louis Cd which was recorded in the 1950s and they stopped complaining. Shit this recording is decades older than the one i just played and they didn't complain?? If it is not because of the age of the recording, or the style ... then the only thing different is .. the language ...

ARE SINGAPOREANS SO CLOSEMINDED THAT IF IT IS CHINESE CANNOT BE CONSTRUED AS "JAZZ"????

Sigh .... hopes for the next generation .... Dashed .....

Update: (29 Sep 2005)
Since people are asking. The CDs are "High Society: Shanghai Divas" and "High Society presents Shanghai Jazz". I purchased them from That CD Shop, located at Pacific Plaza (opp. Lido, Shaw Tower). They said they were the only ones who carry them. Not cheap at $29.90 each, but they are HDCD ... nice especially if u have a good sound system. :)

45 comments:

popagandhi said...

This is really sad. I liked Shanghai Jazz enough to have gone to see it.. and I wish people could be more open minded about it, instead of simply rejecting it because of the language.

andrew said...

cultural ignoramus

budak said...

It could be worse. I have heard more than once exclamations of disgust from 'hip' young people at the sound of bebop and swing in bookshops.

brennan said...

Some people can't tell pastas apart and all pastas are macaronis/spegetthis.

geroithe said...

I know which album you're referring to and i love it too! too bad singaporeans think that all things western must be good.

*shrugs*

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of race-phobic people around in singapore. I have personally encountered many a few and, realised that their numbers are growing over time.

naniecheng said...

hi, this album sounds interesting. can share the title? might just pop by HMV to check it out.

Yee-Wei Chai said...

The CDs are "High Society: Shanghai Divas" and "High Society presents Shanghai Jazz". I purchased them from That CD Shop, located at Pacific Plaza (opp. Lido, Shaw Tower). They say they are the only ones who carry them.

farewellwaltz said...

i come across many such language-elitist in my course of work. they will only grow in numbers. sad but it is a fact.

Carol said...

You know what...these three women are plan poser.. hahaha. they probably wannabes... next time they in restaurant tell me, i will play the 'Ye Shanghai one'!

Mr Miyagi said...

Eh, dowan, give me the CD! Shanghai Divas! I like!

yellowhandman said...

not sure if you're being fair...i own and enjoy a shanghai divas cd (not sure if it's the same one), and my musical taste is pretty eclectic, but i wouldn't really classify the music as 'jazz', at least as most people would expect 'jazz' to sound. on their part, the three girls may simply have found the music to be not what they were expecting at the 'jazz cafe' (is that the actual name?).

you may have a wider appreciation/understanding of what jazz is or can be, but the fact that the three girls didn't like it may not reflect linguistic elitism. it may just be a question of expectations. not quite the same thing.

just my 2 cents...

JT said...

I'm asian and loving it! Its great that you highlighted this...

So sad that we think only the foreign markets are much better our own.

The narrowness of minds to opening up to other genres...sigh.

And dont forget Shanghai is a big city!

Cat said...

Shanghai Jazz is about the best CD I've heard lately. I was told by the sales staff that it is unique to That CD Shop only, so you can pop by to get it at $29.90 or so.

http://www.chinajnbook.com/cd/jazz/JM004.htm

So very good. So, so very good.

Merv said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Merv said...

well, it could very well be that the Shanghai Jazz CD is shite.

So if you remix normal singing with some jazzy music accompaniment = jazz?

Come on. "Ella and Louis Armstrong on Verve" is a jazz classic.

No offense to "Shanghai Jazz". It may be a very good Cd. But I don't think "Shanghai Jazz" is nowhere near the stature of Ella and L.Armstrong.

Yaevlejunce said...

Merv said "don't think it's nowhere near." In other words, it's very near. =p

Yee-Wei Chai said...

Nice talk about Jazz :) here ...
Well .. to compare "shanghai jazz" to "Ella & Louis" is really .. unfair lah ... in fact to compare anything today like Michael Buble or Norah Jones to "Ella & Louis" would be unfair too. We shouldn't even be comparing them at all! Jazz is a style ... regardless if it is vocal or instrumental or fusion, they all evolve and change. I have argued very often with fans of Ono Lisa if her songs can even be construed as Jazz, but I realised that it is a fallacy for me to even start that argument. We have to be open to different interpretation of Jazz but what determines their success, would be our wallet eventually. :)

My Cafe plays Jazz CDs... and I would be open to play acid Jazz, Classic Jazz, whatever they maybe ... but in the past 1.5 years of opening ... only twice have we been asked to change CDs, and ironically, both times (this is actually the 2nd time), they were Mandarin Jazz. :(

Jonathan said...

i liked the shanghai jazz cd.

at least those ignoramus didn't think that kenny g is jazz!

Mark said...

man. thats terrible.

'ooh. look at me i'm so flipping cultured cos i'm trying to act white. no rice for me please; give me some hybrid potato weird pseudo-western food that doesnt even exist in the west. oh and forget taking me to a nice chinese restaurant on a date, i wanna go to a hip western place that sells overpriced, badly made western food. oh and btw did i mention that i dont speak a word of chinese at all because "i english educated (sic)" '


mandarin jazz might be interesting. i'll go and check some out.

Anonymous said...

Talk about being race-phobic. The author of this blog is also pretty racist with that indian chick in the jackie chan movie eh?

Cat said...

I am a fan of Louis and Ella's... but I don't think you can put Shanghai Jazz down like that, merv. Have you heard it yet?

There are many wonderful jazz singers out there. Just like Vaughan, Holiday, Gilberto... I'd say that Louis and Ella are masters of their art, but I wouldn't say that you can't compare with them. Besides, you're talking about vocal jazz.

Why don't you justify your stand as to why there cannot possibly be any comparison made?

stan said...

come on la.. Ella and Louis are the jazz greats.. juz coz they are the greats, you cant use what they performed as the standards by which jazz shd follow.. the nature of jazz in its name is abt improvisation and free will.. u cant compare one to another so simply... it's abt individual style and expression~ wassup man..

Cat said...

Oh btw, Lisa Ono's music should be bossa nova I guess. It's related to jazz.

Anonymous said...

Yup Ono Lisa is bossa nova. You can call it an "spin off" from jazz but not exactly Jazz. It is more like a latin interpretation of Jazz in context to their culture. Shanghai Divas, the same, would be a "chinese" interpretation of Jazz genre with fusion of chinese culture. Plus you simply do not compare jazz music over the decades by the simple fact that the whole millieu of an era largely dictates the direction of pop culture and with it music. In all fairness though, music is largely about personal preferences so if certain people hates certain type of jazz then I guess can't be helped. It is like some wine lovers simply don't like wines from a certain region can we say they are narrow-minded?

Grace said...

I fail to see why they are "close minded". Clearly very fussy and like to complain, but close minded? I would complain if you play Backstreet Boys, and stop complaining if you change the CD to Rilo Kiley. Yet both are "pop", so are you going to call me close minded? Or am I just darn fussy? I can't believe a couple of people disagree with your musical taste and you call them close minded. Dude - it's like if you don't like Chinese DAMN YOU ELITIST BLAH BLAH BLAH. You look down on people who are monolingual, well I look down on those who CLAIM to be bilingual and yet can't for shite, be truly good with either. Believe me, they are people who actually find it DIFFICULT to master Mandarin. It's laziness, or tough shit - this is hard. No. It's close mindedness. OH PLEASE.

Yee-Wei Chai said...

Since we're at the topic of Jazz, lemme do some recommendations as well :). I recently gotten hold of Cynthia McCorkindale's (yes it is a mouthful, trying saying it 3 times fast in a row) CD. It is french, classic Jazz. The sound engineering was not exaclty the best, but it sounded so classic and sincere I thought it'll be nice people would check her out. :)

http://www.singingbadger.com/home.htm

Indi said...
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Indi said...

Maybe next time you should play Buena Vista Social Club CD and see what those 3 pretty ladies would say.

I bet they don't know that Buena Vista Social Club's late singer Ibrahim Ferrer won Latin Grammy award.

Anonymous said...

I like the shanghai divas CDs but I can't agree with you that not liking it equates to being close-minded. Just because people have a different preference doesn't mean they are close-minded. Clearly, you are not making a distinction between ella and shanghai jazz because you seems to think that accepting one means the other must be accepted unless its all about the language. Language apart there are actually more differences between the two styles of jazz than there are similarities. Perhaps you should be more open-minded to peoples' preferences. Diversity makes the world a better place. Why should anyone who disagrees with you be closed-minded? Now wonder who is more narrow-minded...

Yee-Wei Chai said...

To the one(s) who says I am narrowminded cos I say they are closeminded: I didn't demand those customers to like the songs I play. I don't even fancy some of the commercial stuffs that I play. But I just didn't expect them to get so annoyed by it to the extend that they have to request for them to be changed. Geeze I play like french, english, bossa nova every "jazzy" thing out there. And only 2 twice in 1 year and 6mths of operation did I get request to change the disc. Both times - chinese jazz. Twice in 18 months. Tell me would I not think the way I did? Anyways, customers are after all kings. I just change the CD lor.

Yee-Wei Chai said...

And yeah ... i only got to play the Chinese Jazz CD twice ... in the past 18 months. :P Cos they never got past more than a few songs.

Uncle Plastic's Blog said...

I am surprised that the ladies did not even know their jazz well enough when you switched songs. Well, there are many posers out there in Singapore. Live with that. I make music and had too many comments. These days, I learn to only believe in myself and do what I think its musically right. Bravo for playing Shanghai Divas. There is another Taiwanese initiative that is in reverse, bringing in three French opera/jazz singers and teaching them to sing old Shanghai jazz favourites (but they are in recording at the moment and the songs selection has yet to be confirmed, though they just put up a killer show in Shanghai in early September).

Cannot wait to see what happens with these lads. Though they remind me of "Il Divo" though...

Bitchy Witchy said...

The sad thing is that Singaporeans like to pass themselves off as music aficionados even if they know jack shit about music. Case in point, those ladies at the table - they probably listen to the latest stuff that avex puts out. In which case the bitches have no taste...

muffdiver said...

different strokes for different folks

stitSies said...

maybe, just maybe, leaving a lot of room for optimism, the music just didnt really mush well with their food. just maybe though.

mr-modo888 said...

Ex-Expat
I bought the High Society Shanghai Diva's and Shanghai Jazz CD's just before I left Singapore to return to Australia (after 5 years in SG)and have been playing these CD's to all my caucasian friends back here in Perth. None of us understand a single word of what is being sung, but are blown away by the "mood" and music of these CD's. I had some association with the music scene in SG as my son was in a Punk Rock outfit there for 2 years. Please continue to promote an interest in the arts in SG and develop forums such as this, to get people talking about music.....and maybe someday Singapore will have a vibrant arts and cultural scene too.

"Music is the soundtrack to my life"

Claytz said...

A friend of mine sent me 情人的眼泪 Lover's tears from 上海爵士 Shanghai Jazz, and I was instantly hooked... Haven't heard the other tracks yet but I must say this is good stuff... Was playing it on repeat :p

Liondom said...

I'm listening to "Passion" from That CD Shop now. Very impressed with their range of "High Society" CD. Shanghai Divas is another disc that I saw. Yes, only they carry the whole range. I believe it's a compilation done up by the owner of that shop. Smart!

tritonrox said...

i have to say that there are a lot of such "anything western is the best"-thinking ignorant people in singapore. sad, but that's the fact. i have listened to the shanghai jazz CD and it is one of the best jazz cd i have heard so far and i even wrote to the producer to find out the next album release date, think there are working on the shanghai jazz 2 right now.

http://www.shjazz.com/

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the Shanhhai Diva's CD, but find a lot of this debate about Singaporeans only enjoying western culture not what I observe. I was turned on to that CD by my Signaporean friend. All my coworkers and employees are either Singaporean or Malaysian and for the most part they seem to be more interested in Asian cultures then western. Mostly they watch HK, Chinese or Korean serials, mostly eat local food, and usually listen to Chinese music and seldom listen to Western music. But I do not think they would enjoy the Shanghai Divas CD very much as it is not their type of music.

But enough on that...more recomendations on good places to enjoy live jazz would always be nice

darkad said...

i so totally agree. look what 'globalisation' have done?

Chris said...

I went to Tang Dian Wang Shanghai Restaurant at Suntec. While waiting for my family members,the restaurant was playing the Shanghai Divas and immediately I felt in love with the voices of the divas and the songs. After dinner I went to That CD Shop, Music Unlimited and purchased the cd.

Anonymous said...

I just bought those CDs too. They are superb and I fell in love with them the first few seconds just doing "test-listening" to them. Not cheap though but definitely an unique collection of Shanghai style Jazz.

allureviola said...

Would you like to exchange and share collections? I have several high society collections too-- msg me at grace_115@hotmail.com :)