Max Roach and the Beijing Trio

SKF NOTE: A week or so ago, after updating my Instagram page, I was impressed by erhu musician Jiebing Chen‘s playing in a short rehearsal video also posted on Instagram. The erhu is a two-stringed bowed musical instrument, sometimes called a Chinese vertical fiddle.

I was inspired to find out if Jiebing had any albums. She does. Among them is the 1998 Beijing Trio with Jiebing on ehru, pianist Jon Jang, and Max Roach on drums!

Jang, on his web site, tells how the album happened. He said, “At a private meeting with Max, I invited him to produce and perform a recording with me…. A 74 year old Max jumped up with excitement: ‘Let’s do it next month! I am not getting any younger!’”

Jang continues. “Originally, the Beijing Trio was going to be a Max Roach-Jon Jang duo. However, when erhu performer Jiebing Chen visited one of our rehearsals, Max and I decided in a matter of seconds to add her to our ensemble,” he said, adding, “Because Max also made it a rule that we do not read music while we are performing, the whole recording was improvised.”

The Beijing Trio track, “Fallen Petals,” featuring Roach using mallets, is from Jiebing’s web site. [SKF NOTE: The track volume is very soft for the first 12 seconds.]

Roach has this quote about the Beijing Trio on Jiebing’s site: “One of the most refreshing and enjoyable experiences in my career. In this cross-cultural artistry, I heard and did things musically I had never done before.”

Before hearing any of the album music I was ready to buy and download the digital version. Disappointingly, there is no digital album. The CD is available from Asian Improv Records for $20.00 plus $10.00 for shipping. I did write the label to suggest they offer a digital album as well.

I’ve heard Roach play drums in many settings including solo, duets, trios, percussion ensembles, quartets, quintets, big bands, and choirs. But, until yesterday I was unaware of Roach playing drums as a member of the Beijing Trio.

I look forward to hearing this whole album..

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