Jazz headed for Beijing

Updated: 2015-07-03 10:34

By NIU YUE in New York(China Daily USA)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Beijing is about to get cool, very cool.

New York City's iconic Blue Note Jazz Club, where the legends of jazz perform in an intimate setting, is expanding to China, planning to open its first branch in Beijing.

The club signed a partnership with Beijing-based Winbright Culture and Media in 2014 to create Blue Note China, which will open in March 2016.

"It's the first time that such a high-level jazz brand will be brought into China," said Bao Zhonglun, president of Winbright Media. The club will be located near Tiananmen Square and seat 250.

"I believe it will radically change the scene of contemporary Chinese music and be a milestone in its development," Bao added.

Opening in 1981 in New York City's Greenwich Village, the Blue Note Jazz Club quickly became one of the premiere venues in the world for top-drawer jazz in an upscale setting.

"China is an emerging market for live Western music," said Steven Bensusan, president of the Blue Note Entertainment Group. "We'll be at the forefront of helping to build that market. It's something that we're in a unique position to do."

Bao said Beijing was chosen as the setting for Blue Note's first branch in China because Beijing is not only the capital of China, it's also the capital of modern Chinese music.

"Even though the current jazz scene in China is not large, the number of jazz musicians and fans has been growing steadily," Bao said.

The club will be only steps away from the Forbidden City and in the basement of the building originally built as the US embassy in the early 1900s. It is the only preserved foreign embassy building from Imperial China still standing.

"The upfront investment is about $5 million for reconstruction," Bao said. "We'll present the space as a jazz museum, so Chinese people can get in touch with the history and development of jazz."

Blue Note China will present two shows a night Tuesday through Sunday. The 300 to 600 shows annually hope to attract an estimated 15 million customers.

To ensure the quality of the shows, performers and performances will be arranged through US headquarters. China-hired service staff will be trained in the US.

Bao said Chinese people often confuse jazz clubs with pubs where singing entertainment is offered, but the two are fundamentally different, he explained.

"The jazz club focuses on the musical arts, while the pub is just a venue for customers to fill their needs for fun and entertainment," said Bao. "The profits from the jazz club mainly come from the box office, unlike a pub, whose profits mainly come from food and drink."

"Blue Note offers a combination of art and entertainment, where customers can enjoy live performances while relaxing at a bar," Bao said. "So far, such a business model has yet to appear on the Chinese market."

Along with its flagship in New York, the Blue Note brand has already spread overseas with branches in Japan and Italy.

Two more China Blue Note clubs are set to open in the next few years in Shanghai and Taipei.

Hong Xiao in New York contributed to this story.