Friday, September 27, 2019

China's 60s Pops Golden Jazz Musicians: Peace Hotel (和平饭店) Shanghai (中國上海): Henri Gann

Henri Gann travels much when he works and play. This former guitar boy with 60s 'Trekkers' SG band loves jazz. Here's his story about the oldest jazz band in the world. He took his precious time to write me his piece from China's most fun city.

Thanks, Henri.

My recent travels to Asia took me to Shanghai, a city once known as the Paris of the East or the Pearl of the Orient. While at the Bund, I came across the Peace Hotel, a place much wrote about in the history of Shanghai.

Picture 1
The Peace Hotel is a very impressive building on Nanking Street and it can be seen from the Bund. The granite structure building looks very much like the colonial buildings of Old Singapore. Additionally, it has a distinctive pyramid rooftop which can be seen from the Bund.

Picture 2
As I entered the lobby of the hotel, I was instantly struck by a feeling of the hotel past. Beautiful chandeliers and stained glass windows were displayed as it once was showing the grandeur of the hotel. The hallways were an art gallery.

Photographs of the silent movie star Charlie Chaplin, the renowned rocket scientist Qian Xuesen and the British war hero Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery were displayed together with photographs of the American President Bill Clinton, the father of radio Guglielmo Marconi, the famous British Playwright Sir Noel Coward and Edgar Snow, the man who had met Mao Tse Tung and who wrote the Red Star over China, a best seller book in the 60s.

Picture 3
Also lining the lobby hallways of the Peace Hotel were photo displays of many movies filmed at the Peace Hotel. Some of these were Shanghai Triad, the Empire of the Sun, the Silent War and the Last Aristocrats to name a few.

Picture 4
As I reached the far corner of the lobby and adjacent to the dining room, I finally came upon the famous Jazz Club. I was in awe looking at the pictures and newspaper clippings of the musicians who had once played at the club. It was estimated that the current jazz musicians had been playing together in the band for decades and that their ages ranged from the 80s to 90s.

Picture 5
As I entered the room, the rich mahogany dark wood furniture and wall paneling reminded me so much of the Old Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Sitting in rows and facing the bar counter were five musicians dressed in white suits and sitting upright with their musical instruments. If not for their silver hair, one would never have guessed their ages.

Picture 6
As the trumpet blared away together with the alto and tenor saxophone, the musicians played the Saints Go Marchin' In, to the beat of the drums, the double bass and accompanied by the piano. I could not believe the energy the musicians had displayed even after all these years and nightly performances. The carried on with, The Entertainer, the theme song from Sting (video below). It was a blast.
When they played Misty and Sinatra's It Had To Be You an elderly couple could not resist the dance floor. The audience applauded to every piece of the band's performance and the musicians always acknowledged with a modest smile, a nod or a wave to the crowd.

As I left the club, I could not help but feel nostalgic to the changing times after listening to the jazz musicians. In watching them perform I had added a sense of hope to my own pursuit of a fulfilling life.

Shanghai Bund by The Shanghai Sisters: Winnie Ho, Janet Lee, May Mow.

The Guinness World Records in 2006 had designated the group the Oldest Peace World Jazz Band. 
 Henri Gann with Andy Young: The guy who hates to be photographed with me. But he's OK alone, with his hat and sunglasses.

Images and Article: Henri Gann Copyrights Reserved.

8 comments:

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

The oldest jazz band in the world - ever.
Check it out and the songs played.
By blog writer, Henri Gann, who now lives in California in the US.

Acknowledgments from CHARLIE YAP and ROSE KHOO below, who love the article:

Hey Charlie. You've got the fastest LOCOMOTION on track there.
Thanks very much.

Thanks, Rose Khoo. Your name on this posting is as appropriate as the flower you symbolise.
It's Shanghai time.

Alfredo Wongo said...

Kudos to Henri Gann with this Well -written piece on The oldest Jazz band in Shanghai ( in the world too ) & beautiful description of the Peace Hotel

EDDIE ENG (RETIRED BUSINESSMAN) said...

Henri sounds very much like a travel writer.
Writing is crisp and precise, like a musician who hits all the right keynotes.
He plays bass?
Interesting article.

FACEBOOK CHATBOX said...

STEPHEN HAN SAYS:
If I ‘m not mistaken the wedding photo was that of a young Yeun Chun and Lili Hua

Andy Young
Hey wow, Stephen.
Your knowledge of pop culture is astounding.
Thank you.

Andy Young
And Ser Kiong. Thanks for the strong support, despite the fact that I hardly go to your posts to LIKE them.
KAMSIAH.
I will try.

FACEBOOK CHATBOX said...

Freda Hanum
Such a great write up about this Peace Hotel in Shanghai, amazing! Got to know so much about it.
Shanghai indeed got a great many stories that shown in movies and their nostalgic songs.
So nice for the sharing from Henri Gan and Andy Young. 👍

Andy Young
Freda, can't thank you enough for your constant support.
You've been one of the pillars for the blog.
Like our other FB friends who write to help out.
FREDA is Scandinavian for BEAUTIFUL, BELOVED and PEACEFUL.
The female ABBA girl is FRIDA too, LYNGSTAD.

FACEBOOK CHATS said...

HIROSHI DEGUCHI
I have never been to Shanghai but I have a stereotyped image of the city since I was a little child.
There always seems to be something mysterious about the name of Shanghai, something that makes me remember "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
I know it is funny but this has been in mind.

Andy Young
It's the guys who tread there sir.
The Angels are waiting.
It is mysterious and my one trip there (with my wife) make me wanna go there again...
But to listen to the music, nothing else.
So many music outlets there.
Traffic too is terrific.
When the cops whistle, you gotta run across, or the cars come on again.

Anonymous said...

BELOW IS A DREAM FANTASY FROM SOMEONE:

You finally met someone's beautiful daughter
In Shanghai Bund
And she's so enchanting you fell in love with her.
Then you got your guitar and sang
LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDOURED THING.
You proposed dinner and had the best evening ever
At the hotel.

Next morning, 20 bodyguards surrounded the hotel
And your room.
You found out too late, she is one of the mistresses
Of a Chinese mafia boss.
Goodness.

What happens next?

AUDIE NG (LEADER SILVER STRINGS, BASS GUITAR. said...

I remember I have serviced the Peace Hotel (Ping Ann Chew Tian) many years ago with a Filipino TRIO DE CLASSIQUE but I did not go to China. I was told by my talents Antique Hotel
Cheers.