Doing what comes naturally

By Yao Minji
Updated: 2006-12-01 13:35

An Australian singer's chance meeting with three Mauritian musicians in Guangzhou has, naturally, turned into a partnership that is bringing the house down at Shanghai's famous House of Blues and Jazz.

The Natural Jazz Band had a packed house yelling for more when I visited the club last week.

"We believe that jazz is natural and free spirited," says vocalist Charlotte Looker, explaining the band's name. "It is not just studying, but performing and improvising during performances."

The Natural Jazz Band was performing in Pudong early this year. The musicians came to the House of Blues and Jazz for visits and loved the stage and atmosphere.

"We liked the environment, the atmosphere and the audiences here. When we visited, we knew we wanted to perform here," she says.

Here they are, performing in one of the oldest blues and jazz clubs in Shanghai that opened 11 years ago.

Looker was a professional singer in theater performances back in Australia. She left home for Guangzhou without knowing that she would meet her destiny there and turn to jazz.

"I like jazz but I did not think of being a jazz singer. I started my jazz career in Guangzhou after I met the band," says Looker.

The other band members are Damien Banzigou on bass, Samuel Appapoulay on piano and Johnny Joseph on drums - all from the island of Mauritius.

Looker became their vocalist and they shared their love for jazz with her. The guys showed her a lot of jazz music they like as well as conventional Mauritian music. In return, she shared her favorites with them.

"There are some common influences for all of us like those jazz standards, but we all bring in different elements for the band," says Looker.

The music is highly rhythmic, with lively Mauritian beats. Looker's deep and remarkable voice finds its proper place and adds an Australian flavor to the music.

In addition to mixing musical elements from different cultures, the band also presents a fusion of musical sounds from different genres including blues, reggae, funk, soul and R&B, with jazz the underlying feature.

The Natural Jazz Band
Date: through January 28, 9:30pm-1am (Tuesdays-Thursdays, Sundays); 10pm-1:30pm (Fridays-Saturdays)
Address: 158 Maoming Rd S.
Tel: 021-64375270


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