JZ Club
An interview with 任宇清 (Ren Yuqing)

October 19, 2017
任宇清 (Ren Yuqing) began his activity as a bass player. He then founded the first Chinese jazz institution, JZ music, including Shanghai Jazz School, several jazz clubs in China and the Shanghai Jazz Festival (JZ Festival): because of all his important activities he is nicknamed Jueshi Dashu, The Jazz Uncle, by jazz music lovers in China. We had the chance to interview Ren Yuqing during the 13th edition of Shanghai Jazz Festival.

Let’s start from a quick introduction of the several clubs: years of establishment, and type of audience…
The JZ clubs are four: Shanghai’s club, founded 13 years ago, Hangzhou’s, which is 12 years old, Guangzhou’s, that we founded in 2014, and finally Wuhan’s, that was opened two years ago. The audience is made of fans loving music and musicians, usually aged 25 or more.
What does it mean to be a promoter?
The main point in jazz, the main point in its revolution, is found on stage, jazz needs a stage. Being a promoter, to me, means to give the possibility of finding good jazz everyday and, at the same time, to give the musicians the possibility of playing everyday.
How did you move from playing bass to managing several jazz clubs? Can you still play, from time to time?
There wasn’t a real change, because I like this job very much. We are talking about stages, very big stages, at most I can say that there has been an improvement, an addition to my different roles. And, of course, I still continue to play and I’ll continue to do it, because it’s my real job and I will do it forever: playing music, playing bass.
What are the biggest difficulties in organizing events in China?
There are many different problems, first of all it is necessary to find a location which is not disturbing people and which is compliant with fire prevention system regulations. This is the biggest problem. Another problem arises from the fact that jazz is played in clubs but does not belongs to night clubs violent environment, therefore it is necessary to find a suitable place. Another important thing is to choose the city where to open the venue. In addition, you must be very determined: very few people in China listen to jazz, so you must persevere.
Do you think that jazz is becoming more popular in Asia, especially in China?
As time goes by, I believe that jazz in China is becoming more popular, particularly young people like to listen to it. On the contrary, I don’t believe that it is spreading so much in Asia.
How was Shanghai Jazz Festival born? What are this year’s highlights?
It was born very simply: while I was sitting everyday in JZ I thought that it would have been nice if there was also a festival, and therefore I started working on it. This year’s main event is Chucho Valdés & Gonzalo Rubalcaba, but there will also be Kool & the Gang, Avishai Cohen Trio, Chris Dave and many many more.
Which is the concert you organized and that you especially remember?
I’ve attended a lot of unforgettable concerts around the world, and many also at Shanghai JZ Festival… The most memorable was Cui Jian’s at 2009 Festival. That day it had rained and the PA system was unusable, so Cui turned the monitors by 180° and all the audience enthusiastically listened to the concert under the rain. My favorite concert was another one at JZ Festival, Ron Carter and John Scofield.
What concert are you dreaming of organizing?
Stevie Wonder.
What do you think of Chinese jazz scene, musicians, clubs, festivals and schools?
Chinese jazz scene needs some time to blossom, as far as both musicians and audience are concerned. This is the need, we need to be patient, we know that many people prefer hip-hop for example. But we must be coherent and continue what we’re doing.

Reservados todos los derechos – All rights reserved – 版權所有 – 版权所有;  JZ Club An interview with 任宇清 (Ren Yuqing) copyright Jazzespresso 2017.
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