Uber is absurdly cheap in Beijing, as I discovered a couple weeks ago on a late-night ride from East Shore Jazz Club (i.e., the Smalls of Beijing) to my aunt's home by the South Third Ring; the fare, I was pleased to discover, was almost three times cheaper than what I'd previously paid hailing a regular cab. Of course, you still can't beat public transit: the subway schedule is unimpeachable, and buses, though often crowded and hot, still remain the quickest, cheapest way to get to many places (particularly subway stations just out of walking distance).
Since getting to Beijing about a month ago, I've had a ball playing low-pressure standards gigs, hanging late with musicians, and enjoying the mental space to do my own thing for a while. Although there are several times more people here than in New York, the pace of life is curiously slower, and I don't feel the pressure of looming opportunity costs when I'm practicing at home. One major goal has been to invest some serious time and patience to get my clarinet playing up to a serviceable level, and I've had numerous opportunities to get some stage time on clarinet, which has been invaluable in getting more confidence on the instrument.
On the saxophone side of things, being away from the city has also given me the mental permission to mess around more with equipment. I wrote a bit about a new mouthpiece acquisition here; gear nerds and non-gear nerds alike are welcome to take a look. Playing a C melody tenor for a while has also opened up my ears a bit and shed some surprising insight into the Lester Young continuum of sound; I'd encourage any and all tenor students of Lester Young to spend some time with a C melody to get inside of an otherwise impenetrable bygone sound.
The next month looks to be fairly busy: I'll be appearing again with Terry Hsieh's Spice Cabinet, an "avant-garde instrumental pop cover band," (on EWI!), as well as on a few dates in Shanghai at the beginning of July (including one with guitarist and NEC classmate Xiongguan Zhang, who just released his debut album, featuring some other NEC alums). Having spent a bit more time here, it'll be interesting to compare and contrast Beijing and Shanghai's jazz scenes with some time-added perspective.
I'll be stateside again on July 20, and I'm looking forward to the first performance of composer-pianist Dana Saul's sextet, which features some challenging, futuristic music and an outstanding cast of musicians (Adam O'Farrill, myself, Patricia Brennan, Dana, Walter Stinson, and Paolo Cantarella). You'll also likely be hearing more about the Earprint album, which is tentatively scheduled for release in October.
I've been limited to posting photos of gigs and hangs over here, but I've also documented some of the music I've had the pleasure of making with the ever-spirited musicians of Beijing; I'll be posting some of those videos once I return. Pianist Christian Li, whom I met recently in New York a few months ago (and who was partially a catalyst for my somewhat impulsive decision to return to Beijing), was a force on the scene here for a few weeks, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of the original music we presented as well.
That's all I've got to share with you for now. Thanks for reading and thanks for listening.