Hong Kong all-star jazz ensemble plays to packed houses on US tour
The US jazz tour of four Hong Kong star musicians ─ guitarist Eugene Pao, pianist Ted Lo, bassist Sylvain Gagnon, and drummer Anthony Fernandes ─ concluded with great success, playing to enthusiastic audiences at packed houses in four cities.
The jazz quartet was joined by multiple Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker on opening night at the iconic Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Following the grand opening night in the Big Apple (Sep 13), the musicians continued to enthrall audiences in Chicago (Sep 14), Washington, D.C. (Sep 16), and New Orleans (Sep 17) with a medley of jazz standards and their own compositions.
The Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (HKETONY), Candy Nip, said she was proud to present this stellar lineup to US audiences, showcasing Hong Kong’s diverse music talent. She said the four distinguished musicians are testimony that Hong Kong is not only a vibrant business and financial center, but also a cosmopolitan city with a rich arts and cultural scene that embraces global talents. The tour was organized by the HKETONY to promote cultural exchange between Hong Kong and the US. The Washington performance was co-presented by the HKETONY and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Washington. The tour was part of the celebration programs of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Check out the photo gallery and video highlights of their performances in the various stops on the US tour.
Montreal native Sylvain Gagnon is a virtuoso of both the upright bass and 6 string electric bass. Sylvain picked up the electric bass in 1975 and the double bass in 1979. He studied with Chad LB, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, John Patitucci and Kay Eckardt. In 1994, he launched his own Lost Chart Records label with Readers of the Lost Chart. He has five albums as a co-leader, including Simply Music with Jeff Tain Watts and Joey Calderazzo.
Sylvain relocated to Hong Kong in 2000, and has since settled in as one of the most in-demand session bassists on the pop and jazz scenes. He has played on over 400 albums to date, and performed with some A-list jazz names, such as saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Eric Marienthal and Scott Hamilton, trumpeter Tiger Okoshi, guitarist Ulf Wakenius, accordionist Richard Galliano, multi-instrumentalist James Morrison and fellow Canadian pianist D.D. Jackson. He has also performed with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and was part of superstar singer Jacky Cheung's Half Century World Tour, playing 146 concerts in sold-out stadiums.
Ted Lo was the first Chinese graduate of Boston's Berklee College of Music. Beginning his career as a freelance jazz pianist during the 70s, he made his recording debut on trombonist Raul de Souza's 1974 album Colors. In 1977, Ted toured with rock legend Al Kooper. In 1979, he moved to New York City, where over the next decade he collaborated with the likes of Astrud Gilberto, Earl Klugh, Herbie Hancock, Herbie Mann, Larry Coryell, Ron Carter, Stix Hooper and fusion group Special EFX. Returning to Hong Kong in 1996, Ted has worked with an impressive list of Hong Kong pop icons, including Andy Lau, Cass Phang, Eason Chan, Faye Wong, George Lam, Hacken Lee, Jacky Cheung, Justin Lo, Leo Ku, Leon Lai, Leslie Cheung, Miriam Yeung, Sammi Cheng and Sandy Lam.
Ted's influence on jazz music has gone far beyond the stage and the studio. He has devoted much time to raising awareness about jazz music in Hong Kong and Asia, and inspiring the next generation of musicians. In 2017, he collaborated with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra on the program “Romancing the Jazz,” and followed in 2021 with “Jazz in the City,” a collaboration with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2021, Ted was appointed Musical Director of the Montreux Jazz Festival China, and recognized that same year by Tatler, the British magazine and social media site, as one of “Asia's Most Influential.”
Eugene Pao is synonymous with jazz in Hong Kong. After studying in the United States, Eugene began making his mark on the international music scene as a jazz guitarist in the mid-80s. He released his first solo album recorded in New York in 1996 called By the Company You Keep with a stellar cast of jazz greats, including drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist John Patitucci and saxophonist Michael Brecker. In 1999, Eugene released This Window, another outstanding album recorded in New York on which he penned half of the tunes with the support of Jack DeJohnette, bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Joey Calderazzo. Throughout his career, Eugene has recorded with other jazz grandmasters such as saxophonist Ric Halstead, bassist Eddie Gomez, legendary blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon and many more. Eugene toured in 2006 as part of the Asian Super Guitar Project with Kazumi Watanabe from Japan and Jack Lee from Korea. In 2008, he was invited by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels to perform in nine European cities as Hong Kong's jazz ambassador. Together with organist-pianist Jeremy Monteiro from Singapore, saxophonist Tots Tolentino from the Philippines and drummer Hong Chanutr Techatana-nan from Thailand, Eugene formed the Asian All Stars Power Jazz Quartet in 2010. The group toured over Asia and Europe through 2020. Eugene released in July 2022 his latest recording Comfort Zone, which features interpretations of compositions by maestros Charlie Haden, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Thelonious Monk, along with three new originals by himself.
Other than performing at international jazz festivals and taking part in recording projects, Eugene has contributed to countless television commercials, and his film soundtracks have been nominated for Best Original Score at the Hong Kong Film Awards. In 2017, for the 20th edition of Hong Kong's Esquire magazine, he was featured on the cover as one of “The 20 Most Influential Men.”
Born in Calcutta to a musical family, Anthony Fernandes began his professional career at 15. He joined the Sonny Lobos Band at the Oberoi Grand Hotel, eventually taking over the group at 18, making him the youngest bandleader in India. Anthony went to Los Angeles in 1991 to study arranging and composing at the Dick Grove School of Music, and was placed on the Dean's List by the School as one of its best students. He then played in different settings from funk and fusion to big bands in the United States.
Anthony has been calling Hong Kong home since 1994. As house drummer at the popular Jazz Club Hong Kong, he backed a variety of international artists including French pianist-composer Michel Legrand, saxophonists Bob Berg, Eric Marienthal and Richie Cole, trumpeter Terumasa Hino, trombonist Ray Anderson, singers Annie Ross, Claire Martin and Judy Collins as well as bluesmen Bobby Rush, Carey Bell, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Eddy Clearwater and Guitar Shorty. He has also played in concerts with popular Asian singers, such as Aaron Kwok, Andy Lau, Coco Lee, Eason Chan, Elva Hsiao, Faye Wong, Hacken Lee, Sally Yeh and Sammi Cheng. A versatile and ubiquitous session drummer, Anthony has appeared on over 400 albums and played in more than 1,500 live concerts.