After exhausting ourselves sifting through the offerings at the Roundabout Book Fair, Savvy (my beloved wife of many a year), Reina (our girl child), and I (resident wordsmith) headed over to Element Fresh at Indigo Mall to check out the miniatures exposition (excellently written about here: Don’t Miss The Guy Living in a Cage at Indigo Mall).
It was a flawless plan hampered only by any real knowledge of the happenings at Indigo Mall. To our surprise, the miniature model display had vacated the atrium (we later learned it has relocated to the second floor, where it will remain until October 27). In its place, musicians were warming up for some event with plenty of security and a fair share of reporters. We decided to boldly sit in the atrium and see what this collection of musicians was up to.
After a while, it was clear that jazz was the main theme but the musicians never seemed to complete a set – or even a single piece. They would jam for a minute or two, and then some guy would speak in English and a young woman was translate for him; from our location, we couldn’t make out what was happening. After finishing my Elvis Presley brunch (peanut butter and banana on French toast), I wandered over to get a better look at the proceedings despite my mother’s repeated warnings about what curiosity did to the cat (sorry, Mom).
To my shock and delight, the guy speaking English was none other than world-renowned horn player Chris Botti (and a resident of my native Portland, Oregon). I enjoy jazz but do not profess to be an expert on the subject. In fact, if pressed, I can probably only name three trumpet players – one of them dead.
So I was more than shocked that Chris Botti (one of the living ones) was hanging out at a Beijing shopping mall on a Sunday afternoon schooling a relatively small crowd on the art of trumpet playing. I’d call it one of my Beijing moments – but considering there was the time I was dining at a Shenzhen mall when Jay Chow gave a mini-concert to a horde of screaming girls, perhaps I should simply file this as a China moment. Come to think of it, I should also probably eat at malls more often.
Photo by Christopher Lay