Two Going On…

It has been a while since I posted news of Medina and now is definitely the time to update as she has officially entered “The Terrible Twos”: last Sunday was Medina’s second birthday.

The children’s party will be held later as the majority of Medina’s similarly aged friends are away on summer travels at the moment. Instead we made Sunday a family day. Medina’s grandmother had come to visit from Azerbaijan; the three of us went to the Kids’ Café in the morning (excellent indoor play area where the parents get fed and watered) and to the beachfront in the afternoon with lunch at one of our favourite restaurants in between.

Trying to take a presentable photograph of an active toddler is a challenge but hopefully the three below will give a flavour of the day.

Going quarterly?

If there was a prize for the world’s worst blogger, I would win it hands down. Where did three months go?

During the intermission the Taehwa Spring Jazz Festival has been and gone. Staged over two days at a pleasant spot downtown next to the Taehwa river, the festival was jazz by name but not necessarily by nature.

Walking down to the festival area from the nearest access point we were greeted by a small tent with sign saying “DJs and B-Boys” written bold across the top. Just as it said on the can, the contents of the tent were two (digital) turntables and a microphone with just enough space left for the DJs spinning
the break-beats for the dancers to throw down to. As we arrived on the Friday night during the pause between the penultimate and final acts on the main stage this tent was commanding the best crowd by far.

The headline act on Friday night was a band from China called Long Shen Dao. We were looking forward to hearing some Chinese jazz for the first time but found we were introduced to Chinese reggae instead; and it was rather good.

If someone had asked me beforehand to imagine the sound of reggae with an overlay of zhen (the traditional Chinese string instrument) I would have been hard pushed to come up with something good. It works surprisingly well though. The fact that the zhen was used sparingly may have helped: it appeared that its player had to spend several minutes tuning the instrument for each song so she could only perform every other number.

The bass-playing lead singer seemed to be aiming very much for the Bob Marley look both in terms of wardrobe and waist-length dreadlocks; the longest I have yet seen on a Chinese person. He performed very well and it was a shame that there were no sub-woofers in the PA rig to really give his bass the sound it deserved.

After Friday night’s finale of breaks and reggae, I went down a little earlier on the Saturday in search of some jazz. Again the main stage was having a pause, the DJ and B-Boy tent had some B-Girls dancing in formation in leopard skin outfits (no further comment) and the ‘other’ stage had some rather heavy
fado going on.

When the main stage fired up again it was powered by a Korean band called Windy City. I was thinking that they might have been making a sideways reference to Chicago or perhaps Baku (both have jazz histories and are known as The Windy City in their respective countries) but guess what: they turned out to be a reggae band too. Where Long Shen Dao had been reggae with a bit of ska, Windy City was reggae with a dose of dub and I missed those sub-woofers even more. Just imagine how the didgeridoo would have sounded with that extra bass too…

It must be rare to go to a “Jazz Festival” and not hear any jazz music but one could argue that that is part of the charm of living here.