'Oldest jazz band' remains a constant in fast-modernizing Shanghai

( China Daily ) Updated: 2017-09-09 07:55:31

Li Minsheng is one of the junior members of the "Old Jazz Band" at Shanghai's ornate Fairmont Peace Hotel. He's 76.

Frequently described as the oldest jazz band on the planet and once recognized as such by Guinness World Records, its six wizened members range from a relatively youthful 63 to a scarcely believable 97-year-old trumpeter.

They are an institution in Shanghai and a rare constant in a city and country that are modernizing at amazing speed.

"I have been performing jazz for at least 40 years," says Li, an alto saxophonist with a soft face and gentle air.

"I got this saxophone in the 1960s and have played it ever since."

Born during the tumult and war following Japan's late-1930s invasion, Li - like other Chinese his age - has witnessed remarkable change.

"I started playing jazz and performing after the opening-up," says Li, referring to the economic reforms launched in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping that propelled China to the world's second-largest economy today.

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