NEW YORK—After winning his Grammy with Chick Corea for best jazz instrumental album on Jan. 31, Kenny Garrett came to see Shen Yun on Feb. 14 to gain inspiration from classical Chinese dance and music. The performance is being held at New York City’s renowned Radio City Music Hall until Feb. 21, before continuing on with its world tour.
“The scenery is very beautiful,” Garrett said. “I can’t wait for the second half.”
Mr. Garrett during the show’s intermission said, “I’m here to kind of observe to see if I can get some musical ideas."
He said he was “just listening to and watching the dancers, trying to see how they are moving to the music, the rhythm.”
As a saxophonist and flautist, Garrett gained renown through his years as a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Miles Davis band. He has since released several solo albums and recently performed at a Sting concert in New Jersey.
One of Garrett’s CDs Beyond the Wall was nominated for a Grammy and features a blend of Jazz and music from a Chinese erhu. He said he came to see Shen Yun to further his understanding of Chinese culture.
Shen Yun seeks to revive traditional Chinese culture via classical Chinese dance. Many of Shen Yun's pieces are from ancient Chinese folklore, but also have contemporary pieces. "The company gains its creative inspiration from traditional Chinese cultre, and seeks to further this heritage," says Shen Yun's program book.
Shen Yun’s three performing arts companies are touring worldwide in 2010. In addition to featuring an array of dances from China’s various ethnic groups and dynasties, the New York-based performing arts company also features an orchestra that combines both Western and Chinese instruments—from the erhu and pipa to the viola and French horn.
Although Garrett said he is familiar with the sounds of the erhu from his previous work on his Beyond the Wall album, he said he is still trying to learn more about the rest of the Chinese instruments. “I’m looking for that more so,” Garrett said. “As a musician I’m looking to try to give that influence in my music a little bit more.”
Shen Yun performances also feature the unique styles of classical Chinese dance, which include a wide range of movements from back flips to gentle hand gestures. Garrett said he was not familiar with classical Chinese dance before the show. “I’m just trying to learn,” he said, adding “so far I’m enjoying it.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company celebrated the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Sunday. Shen Yun will perform four more shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York Sunday, Feb. 14 and Saturday, Feb. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 21.
For more information, please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org