Band of nations brings jazz to Seoul

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Band of nations brings jazz to Seoul

The Asian fusion craze has now invaded the music scene.
A blend of musical styles of five jazz artists representing far-flung regions of Asia -- Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore -- is about to descend on Seoul as Asian Spirits makes its debut here on Oct. 1. The band defies national borders, and gives credence to the claim that there really are no political boundaries in the world of art.
The band’s performances in Seoul will include fusing jazz with the sounds of the janggu, a Korean hourglass drum. The improvised music will also bring forth a blend of different tastes in jazz, reflecting the diversity of the band’s members. At future tour dates in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and Europe, the band will blend the local sounds with their own compositions.
Asian Spirits is by no means a pioneer in forming a band from musicians who represent the world’s cultural diversity. In fact, a group with the same name existed in the late 1980s, but it broke up, struggling with a poor following.
Early this year, Korea’s Advanced Music Productions revived the idea by recruiting top jazz musicians from five Asian countries and contacting other music agencies for their advice on a polyglot sound. The result was the band as it exists today.
“There is a growing interest in all things Asian, both in Europe as well as in America these days. There is also a growing international interest in jazz and world music,” says Nami Morris, AMP’s overseas manager.
Showing its faith in the band’s potential for international success, AMP already has drafted plans to promote and manage Asian Fusion throughout the world.
Lee Jeong-sik, the group’s saxophonist, is one of Korea’s most celebrated jazz artists, having collaborated with musicians such as Ron Carter and performed at the Asia Jazz Festival. Other members are Shigeo Hirayama of Japan on drums, Ted Lo of Hong Kong at the piano, Farid Ali of Singapore at the guitar and bassist Andy Peterson of Malaysia. Also joining them is the Korean percussionist Jang Jae-hyo. Seoul eagerly awaits what AMP offers as Asia’s most representative jazz band of the future.
The Oct. 1 show will be held at the LG Arts Center in Seoul, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost 30,000 won ($26) to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3675-2754 or go to
For tickets, call (02) 1544-1555 or go to

by Stella Lee
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