If you thought blending Chinese classical instrumental music with hip-hop and electronica was a rare treat, imagine combining that fusion with a blend of Indian classical and contemporary Western music.
That's exactly the idea behind Dave Liang and The Shanghai Restoration Project's appearance with Gingger Shankar this Friday, November 4 at Asia Society in New York.
Their performances, which will be followed by a conversation with the artists, are part of The Chindia Dialogues, a four-day "Asian Arts & Ideas" symposium at Asia Society that will bring together leading writers, thinkers, and musical performers from China and India.
Liang, a Chinese-American, explores the tension between ancient Eastern sounds inspired by 1930s Shanghai jazz bands and contemporary Western hip-hop, electronica and pop rhythms. In an interview with ARTonAIR.org, Liang described the Shanghai jazz scene in 1930s and '40s: even in that era, he explained, Shanghai was a decadent, progressive city brimming with commerce and cultural exchange, and a place many people referred to as the "Paris of the East."
To Liang, the Chinese jazz of the '30s — which combined Western jazz with Chinese melodies, lyrics and instruments — "reflected the promise and fun nights and the joy" of the era. Appropriately, Liang and his ensemble will be joined by Shanghai vocalist Zhang Le for Friday's performance.
Watch: Dave Liang and The Shanghai Restoration Project live in New York City
Gingger Shankar, who has performed with artists as diverse as Zakir Hussain, Peter Gabriel, Frank Zappa, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Smashing Pumpkins, is a double violinist who experiments with Indian classical music and contemporary Western genres. Recently, she composed the score for the Iranian American film Circumstance, which juxtaposed traditional Iranian music with punk and hip-hop.
Watch: Gingger Shankar performing live with Jas Ahluwalia on tabla
An added attraction this Friday will be the work-in-progress Himalaya Song, Liang and Shankar's multimedia musical collaboration with filmmaker Mridu Chandra which represents the impact of environmental and ecological change on Himalayan culture through music, visual imagery and live narration. Billed as "a journey through Himalayas past and present, exploring folktales, mythological narratives, the interconnectedness of surrounding regions, and tomorrow’s inevitable change," Himalaya Song has been accepted for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.