Tonight our snail’s pace exploration of Hangzhou’s music venues continueth with JZ Club playing host to the Elisabetta Maulo Belgian Quartet.
First impression: this is a proper jazz club. Sometimes in China you might feel like the Chinese are having an admirable go at something but not quite getting it right. Pizza for example. Sandwiches with sweet mayonnaise (THE HORROR). Not the case with JZ Club – the decor, the cigars, the efficient table service, the whole vibe – it feels authentic. So as long as the music’s good and you can accept having your wallet dented (they’re providing you with jazz and it’s slap bang in the middle of tourist central – of course it’s not cheap to drink there) then you’re not going to be disappointed.
So was the music good this evening?
Damn straight it was. The Elisabetta Maulo Belgian Quartet consists of four extremely talented individuals (yes four, the clue’s in the name), and happily they gel together very nicely indeed.
Prior to Elisabetta Maulo entering the musical fray during the first and second sets (there was a third set but it’s Tuesday night and we’d already given ourselves enough of a hangover to be going on with), we are treated to some enjoyable instrumentals, delivered with the type of nonchalance that implies these are performers who have played together for a significant amount of time and have a very clear idea of what they are about.
The interplay between pianist Piergiorgio Pirro and double bass player Nicola Lancerotti is something to behold, Pirro periodically transfixed by Lancerotti’s finger movements, the two seemingly locked in deep musical conversation. Well worth a trip upstairs to the smoking area to study in more detail.
Drummer Jakob Warmenbol, a picture of seriousness on the stool, pins everything together dexterously, meticulously plugging the gaps, not in a workmanlike way, but like a master craftsman.
But the best is yet to come, Elisabetta Maulo’s presence immediately lighting up the venue when she graces the stage, serving to create a rare lull in the noisy background chatter (no matter how great the music is, this is still China – don’t expect to be able to hear the silence between the notes).
All in all, this was a really cracking night – a truly special experience. We at TSOFDs urge you to get yourself to JZ Club before this wonderful quartet’s residency ends on April 15th. Why wouldn’t you?
JZ Club is at 266 Nanshan Road (very close to West Lake). The Elisabetta Maulo Belgian Quartet play every night of the week apart from Mondays and the music usually begins at 9.15 pm.