36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022


Sizhukong (Taiwan):

Yuwen Peng - p
Toshi Fujii - dr, perc
Alex Wu - erhu (Chinese violin), perc
Joyce Chen - liuqin, ruan (Chinese lutes)
Chihping Huang - dizi, xiao (Chinese flutes)
Martijn Vanbuel - b

Where does jazz fit in the music of the world today? How does a citizenship of jazz musicians from every corner of the world adapt and transform this once idiomatically American form? Where is jazz headed next?

Sizhukong, a unique ensemble led by Yuwen Peng, a Taiwanese pianist, is one good answer to this set of questions. Combining traditional Chinese and modern jazz instrumentation, Sizhukong takes traditional Chinese music into the modern age and transports jazz and other modern styles back into the past.

The name Sizhukong comes from the joining of three Chinese characters, and the meaning is multi-layered. Si means silk, from which strings were originally made, zhu means bamboo and may represent the roots of the traditional instruments, sizhu means musical instrument, while kong means emptiness or the state of enlightenment that comes through meditation. Sizhukong may signify the flow of energy that brings the body into physical and emotional harmony.

Sizhukong was founded in 2005 by a group of innovative jazz and Chinese music virtuosi who come from different backgrounds but share the same passion and belief in music.

Sizhukong has been invited to perform at numerous international festivals in Taiwan, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Korea including Penang Island Jazz Festival, Jazz Music Festival in Shanghai and Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta. The group has released two albums: Sizhukong (2007) and Paper Eagle (2009). Both albums caught the attention of music lovers and critics alike.

Sizhukong is Yuwen Peng’s latest effort to bring jazz into conversation with the old and new cultures of Taiwan.

Yuwen Peng, one of the leading jazz pianists in Taiwan, is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston (the USA), where she studied jazz piano, theory and composition. While at Berklee, Yuwen was also a recipient of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Award for jazz composition.

Since returning to Taiwan, Yuwen has participated in many festivals, recordings and educational activities, and has performed in Hong Kong, Macao, Dubai, and Jakarta. In addition to regular performances of her own compositions with jazz ensembles, the pianist and composer also leads a unique ensemble The Yuwen Peng Jazztet, which is working on a variety of genre-crossing projects.

Toshi Fujii also graduated from the Berklee College of Music, where he studied drums and bass. Upon his return to Taiwan in 2002, he had established a reputation for his vigorous styles and excellent playing and soon became one of the most active drummers and bassists.

Aside from playing drums and bass, Fujii recently established a chromatic harmonica group called Afternoon Tree and has gained a thrilling attention in Taipei. He is also a famous pedagogue. He teaches at YAMAHA PMS program and has already published three instructional DVDs, which enjoy great commercial success in Taiwan.

Alex Wu graduated from the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts, specializing in erhu (a Chinese violin). He works with various Taiwan based groups, has toured in China, Australia and the USA. In addition, he is an adjunct instructor at his Alma Mater.

Chih-Ling Chen is one of the most promising Liu-Qin and Ruan players in the new generation of Chinese music scene. She had a solid training in the performing arts of Chinese Classical and Theatrical music at China Culture University. During her study years, she was the winner of the University’s “best young performer” competition as well as various national competitions.

Currently, she is a pedagogue at various schools throughout Metro-Taipei District and an active performer with the renowned Yu Wen Peng Jazztet.

Chih-ping Huang is one of the most active dizi/xiao (Chinese flutes) players in Taiwan, both on stage and in recording studio. His performing experiences range from traditional Chinese music, Peking opera to popular music.

After winning the Taiwan National Dizi Competition in 1992, Chih-Ping was invited to tour in Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian cities. And in 2002, he had the honour to accompany Lee Bou-Chung, a famous Chinese opera soloist.

Chih-Ping is currently the music director of BCC (Broadcasting Corporation of China) Chinese Orchestra and an active pedagogue in various community colleges.

Bassist Martijn Vanbuel came to the Far East from Belgium. He studied jazz in the conservatory of Leuven (Belgium) and at the Superieur Conservatory of Paris (France). He has been performing on stage for more than ten years, playing a wide variety of styles, and sharing the stage with some of the most renowned Belgian jazz musicians.

After living in Shanghai for a while he moved to Taipei in 2006 and ever since has been working with the top of Taipei’s scene. He has appeared with Matthew Lien, QiBin-KaiYa Quartet and Brown Sugar House Band.

He leads his own band Free Breathing Ensemble for which he composes and occasionally appears on piano or accordion.


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