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Lao Dan – Chinese Medicine

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"A classically trained Chinese bamboo flutist, Lao Dan picked up the saxophone again around 2013 as he went wildly astray in the world of avant-garde jazz and free improvisation. While demonstrating an ever-growing ability to deliver explosive force and intensity in his free playing, Lao Dan keeps a brutal honesty in his approach to the instrument. He plays ‘jazz’ as what it is, not what it’s supposed to be. Navigating constantly between the East and the West, Lao Dan embraces a unique aesthetics which fuses all his past influences into a voice of glorious mayhem and sheer zaniness.

Recorded in June 2019, this is a solo set in which two instruments – tenor saxophone and Zheng, also known as the Chinese zither – were played successively and simultaneously by hands and feet. The recording was made in one go with no overdub or effect added. Lao Dan never learned to play the Zheng properly before this very first attempt. As a result, he didn’t struggle at all to play it in an awkward way, while with the saxophone he did, as always, try very hard to do that.

The cover art, created by Shenzhen-based artist Tiemei, is a portrait of Shennong, the Deity of medicine and agriculture in ancient Chinese mythology. The three tracks in Chinese Medicine are named after three species of herb each believed to have unique medicinal properties. It is our responsibility to remind you to take them with extra caution. In Chinese medicine, after all, every drug is a thirty-percent poison."

Lao Dan

A classically trained Chinese flutist at Shenyang Conservatory of Music (SYCM), Lao Dan sticks to his own vision of and approach to the bamboo flute and its sounds. His playing continues to push the limits of artistic expression on this instrument, exploring the possibilities of free, energetic, and nonconformist ways of sound-making confined by neither Jazz nor traditional Chinese musical conventions. His improvisation often brings to the audience an overwhelming sonic experience in which the East and the West, the ancient and the modern clash dramatically on each other.