北市府觀傳局旅遊季刊訪談 ⟪TAIPEI⟫ Hallowed Ground for Lovers of Jazz 台北ジャズの聖地
如果你對這個島上的音樂產業很熟悉，你一定早就知道台灣的爵士中心地在哪。如果你是初接觸者，那就讓我們來帶領你去探索這塊爵士聖地。If you know this island’s music scene, you already know where ground zero is for Taiwan jazz. If you’re new to the scene, we’re here to tell you where this sacred ground is to be found. 台湾の音楽業界に精通している人であれば、台湾のジャズの発祥がどこかわかると思います。ここではそんなジャズの聖地を紹介していきます。
⟪TAIPEI⟫ 係台北市政府觀光傳播局出刊的旅遊季刊，內容廣納台北市的景點、歷史、文化、人物、飲食等介紹，目的為提供國際觀光客不一樣的台北觀點。每期出刊數為英文版28,000本，日文版9,600本，另搭配台北旅遊網、Taiwan Scene、News Lens關鍵評論網等線上媒體平台露出 。 ⟪TAIPEI⟫ Quarterly is published by Department of Information and Tourism,Taipei City Government
台北藍調創立於1974年，長期屹立不搖地代表著台灣最頂尖的爵士樂展演空間。甚至可以說，整個島上最才華洋溢的樂手們，不管是本國籍或外國籍，都曾在這裡登台演出過，台北藍調的盛名總吸引最優秀的樂壇菁英到來。在一個靜謐的午後，我們 <<TAIPEI>> 季刊採訪了現任的經營者黃信哲，人稱呼阿哲的他，不久前才從退休的創辦人蔡輝陽手中接下經營權。The music started playing at Blue Note Taipei (台北藍調) way back in 1974. Never missing a beat, the bands play on today at Taiwan’s premier jazz nightspot. The island’s best talent flock to play here — both Taiwanese and expatriate alike — and Blue Note has long been noteworthy for bringing in elite talent from overseas. On a recent quiet late afternoon, <<TAIPEI>> sat down for a chat with the current owner, Huang Xinzhe (黃信哲), who goes by the nickname A-zhe (阿哲), and who took the reins from retiring founder Cai Hui-yang (蔡輝陽) not long ago. Blue Note Taipei 台北藍調(タイベイランディアオ)というお店は1974年から今に至るまで各国のプレイヤーたちがこの場所でジャズの演奏を行っています。今季の『TAIPEI』では、創業者の蔡輝陽(ツァイホィヤン)氏からお店を引き継いだ黄信哲(ホァンシンジャー)氏にお話を伺いました。二人とも親しみやすく、阿哲は「阿哲(アージャー)」、蔡氏は父のように優しいことから蔡爸(ツァイバー)という愛称で親しまれています。以下インタビュー内でも同様の名称で表記しています。
很多人對於台北藍調有個誤解，會以為它的名子是取自於紐約有名的Blue Note Jazz Club 「並不是這樣的」阿哲說到「台北藍調營業商標登記於1981年，所以我們比紐約的那間店更久遠。我們取這個名字其實是為了要向有名的唱片公司Blue Note Records 致敬 (在1939年創立的標竿性的爵士樂唱片製作公司)。還有一個常常被誤解的地方就是我們名子裡的「藍」，有許多人聽到我們叫台北藍調就以為我們除了爵士樂以外也同時有藍調音樂表演，雖然爵士樂跟藍調音樂像是表兄弟，但我們這邊主要還是以爵士樂為主，藍調音樂就算有出現也只會是穿插在其中。
The Work of a Pioneer
The story of Blue Note begins with the founder Cai Hui-yang. “Blue Note started small in a small space by Yongkang Park (永康公園) in 1974, primarily selling jazz and blues records and musical instruments,” says A-zhe. Founder Cai Hui-yang soon decided a bigger space and new direction was needed, so a move was made in 1978, first to another spot and then to the current location. His nickname “Cai Ba (蔡爸)” means “Daddy Cai”; A-zhe can’t recall when everyone started using this affectionate diminutive.
The venue is in an old, compact commercial building on the corner of busy Roosevelt (羅斯福路) and Shida Roads (師大路), in an area always pulsing at night, home to a popular night market and many bars, pubs, and eateries. “For the longest time we were a combo operation, originally still selling music and instruments and also operating as a restaurant, café, tea shop, music venue and bar — even as a classroom, with jazz lessons given in the afternoons,” A-zhe recalls. “Cai Ba was a player, and would hit the stage himself many a night, especially through the early and middle years,” says A-zhe. Gradually, to simplify their days, Cai Ba and his wife Cai Ma (蔡媽, Mama Cai) ended up concentrating on the live music. A-zhe says of this time of change, “We continue with the shortened hours today, 8:00 p.m. to midnight, as well as a simple menu and drinks list.”
One misconception many people have about the club is that it was named after New York’s famed Blue Note Jazz Club. “Not so,” says A-zhe. “They opened in 1981, so we’re the elder. Our name in fact honors Blue Note Records (an iconic American jazz record label founded in 1939).” Another common misconception is that the “blue” in the name “means we offer both jazz and blues. Jazz and blues are cousins, but we’re about jazz here, though blues sneaks in.
When Blue Note was born, jazz was more than “exotic” in Taiwan. It was almost completely unknown. There were only three TV channels then, which concentrated on mainstream music. Western music on local radio stations was also almost invariably mainstream. Besides, during the martial law period, few people could travel overseas, and many people in Taipei, including A-zhe, were exposed to jazz through American servicemen stationed in Taiwan. He originally worked in a retail operation, where his boss frequently played jazz. “I was intrigued, enjoying the unusual pacing and rhythms,” he says.
“Blue Note was one of the few places you can find real jazz music back then,” A-zhe recalls. “Though there was only a small, loyal clientele who enjoyed it like I do.” After martial law ended in 1987, things started to pick up, as more people started studying and traveling overseas and brought new interests back.
In truth, says A-zhe, Blue Note has not faltered since that time. The club does not have to do much in the way of self-promotion, though it has a website that is effective. The number of local music lovers with a keen ear for jazz has grown of its own accord, and though other live-music nightspots have come and gone, either dedicated to jazz or frequently booking jazz ensembles, since the early days Blue Note has enjoyed a reputation as the No. 1 place to go, in Taipei and across the island.
“The reality is that people come looking for us,” he states. “Both players and music fans. We don’t have to go out to convince anybody to give us a try. And beyond the local population — we see both loyal clientele who’ve been coming for decades as well as a constant stream of new, mostly young faces — about a third of our audience each night are tourists. Many expatriates come in regularly, sitting in for a few hours before heading out to spots open into the wee hours, and we get tourists from all around the world too. Generally, they’re music-lovers that have actively checked the local jazz scene and the best places to go online.” One thing that A-zhe and his sister Huang Den (黃丹), who goes by her English name Carter,co-manages the joint with him, find highly complimentary is that they have numerous foreign music lovers who make a point of coming each time they’re in Taiwan, and have established personal friendships with them.
A-zhe came to Blue Note in 2001. “Carter had already been working here as a bartender for a long time. She’d been working elsewhere. Since her boss and Cai Ba were friends, Cai Ba, after being introduced, asked if she’d like to help nights with bartending. Intrigued, she gave it a shot, and fell in love with the music.” A-zhe originally came to Blue Note simply to explore the music, and eventually Cai Ba asked him to join the management team.
When Cai Ba and Cai Ma decided to retire a few years ago, they found they couldn’t bear to sell or consider closing the place, “so in the end you could say we ‘inherited’ it. The relationship Carter and I have with them is not that of bosses/juniors, or simply friends — it’s more like parents and children.” A-zhe and Carter both have a deep passion for the music. “All types,” Carter says, “but yes indeed, mostly jazz.” Nowadays, Blue Note still looks like how it was when Cai Ba started it. The neon lights at the entrance, a wall of jazz records and a small stage with a grand piano have become the features of Blue Note. “We want to keep it original.” Says A-zhe, “for Cai Ba and our guests who have been here to enjoy jazz for decades”.
就有如店內的客人一樣聞樂自來，台北藍調作為台灣的爵士樂聖地，無須刻意徵招樂手，一直以來都有許多表演者渴望登上店內的舞台演出，源源不絕。在週間的時段，幾乎每個晚上都有不同的演出，讓許多新秀跟演出團體有表演的機會。在週末的時候我們把時間留給台灣國內外最頂尖的好手，最知名最資深的爵士樂團「烏野薰四重奏固定每個禮拜六在這邊演出，領團者為日籍鋼琴手烏野薰，搭檔台灣薩克斯風演奏家李承育」另外一個招攬爵士樂新血的方式是透過台灣高等教育機構裡的音樂系「我們認識許多這些音樂學院的導師，他們指導的學生們都有相當的水準」阿哲說「以烏野薰跟李承育老師來說，他們都已經教導爵士樂二十餘年。像他們一樣的先進就會帶來更多優秀的後進樂手，我們相信爵士樂也會透過這樣傳承的方式延續下去，我們也因此得以確保這裡的演出品質維持一貫的優異水準」。舉例來說，像是由烏野薰老師指導的大樂團 TYJO 台北青年爵士大樂隊。Cheng-Yu Lee 李承育 在天主教輔仁大學的音樂系擔任教授，同時也指導他們的 FJJE 輔大爵士重奏團。這兩個團體現在都固定有在台北藍調表演。
在國外的表演者如果想來台北藍調表演，通常會透過我們的網站聯絡我們，或者會透過他們在台灣認識的樂手友人代為連絡。通常這些外國來的表演者都在國外富有表演經驗，或是在音樂學院研習了相當長的一段時間。來過台北藍調的國外知名樂手有 Ralph Lalama、Jerry Weldon 和 Hideo Oyama。近期有來演出並且讓阿哲和Carter留下深刻印象的是來自波蘭的爵士鋼琴手 Roman Wróblewski，和一個來自馬德里的爵士樂團 Maureen Choi Quartet，享有『西班牙室內爵士樂』的盛名讚譽。
The Blue Note Stage — Drawing in the Best in Local and Overseas Talent
As with its patrons, being the “jazz mecca” in Taiwan means Blue Note does not need to scout for talent. The talent comes to the club, eager for the Blue Note stage. During the week, a different group is booked each night, constantly opening up opportunities to new talent. On weekends the same established groups — i.e., Taiwan’s home-grown and expatriate best — are generally given the stage. “KU Quartet performs at Blue Note every Saturday. They are led by Japanese pianist Kaoru Uno (烏野薰) and Taiwanese saxophonist Cheng-Yu Lee (李承育) .” Another steady source of new young talent is the music programs at Taiwan post-secondary institutions. “We have usually long known the instructors and they vouch for quality,” says A-zhe. “Uno and Lee, for example, are known for teaching jazz in Taipei for almost 20 years. Musicians like them bring more players to us, and we believe this is how jazz can be passed on. More importantly, performances at Blue Note can always be with high quality.” One of the examples is Taipei Youth Jazz Orchestra TYJO台北青年爵士大樂隊, the youth band instructed by Uno. Lee teaches jazz at Fu Jen Catholic University (天主教輔仁大學) Music Department and their Fu Jen Jazz Ensemble (輔大爵士重奏團) is also a rising student band. Both of the young bands are performing at Blue Note nowadays.
Foreign talent for the most part contact Blue Note directly through our website, or sometimes through Taiwan jazz musicians whom they have a relationship with. Often these individuals are experienced and have played or studied music overseas for years. Among the biggest names that have come from overseas are Ralph Lalama, Jerry Weldon, and Hideo Oyama. Other more recent visits specially remembered by A-zhe and Carter are Polish jazz pianist Roman Wróblewski and Maureen Choi Quartet , whose music is best described as “Spanish Chamber Jazz”.
“We’ll also commonly get overseas groups booked in the Taipei Jazz Festival (台北爵士音樂節) and Taichung Jazz Festival (台中爵士音樂節) wanting to swing by for sessions here,” Carter adds. “They’ll contact us in advance for a booking. One example is the SJZ Collective from San Jose, California, which played at the 2018 Taichung Jazz Festival. They then came back again during a 2019 Asia tour.” Individual players will do the same. They won’t just show up unannounced; invariably they know someone who’s on stage that night and have set things up ahead. Some artists have played at the festivals more than once, and have made repeat appearances here as well. We’ve become friends with a number.”
如果外國人到台灣來，希望到當地看現場音樂演出，特別是爵士樂，請問會推薦那些地方呢? 阿哲對於這個問題給了詳細的解說：「首先我會推薦你先來台北藍調，可以先來個許多次，在這之後Sappho Live Jazz，台中爵士樂節和台北爵士樂節都是非常好的選擇」
Sappho Live Jazz是除了台北藍調以外在台北的唯二的專精於爵士樂的酒吧，他們店內走的風格是屬於比較輕鬆的氣氛，現場的爵士音樂演出也非常的專業。他們不久前才從經營了15年的安和店搬到新的地址，現在的位置鄰近捷運中山國小站。台北爵士音樂節從2007年開始不間斷地每年舉行，在大安的一個大型戶外演出場地舉行，許多國內外頂尖的爵士樂團都會參與表演。一年一度的台中爵士樂節是在台中市舉辦，位於台灣西岸，從台北下去車程約90分鐘。
Pilgrimage Destinations for Music Lovers
Asked what places are must-visit spots for folks from overseas looking to explore the local music scene — specifically jazz — A-zhe has a precise answer: “First, visit Blue Note — multiple times. After this, must-have experiences are Sappho Live Jazz, the Taipei Jazz Festival, and the Taichung Jazz Festival.”
To experience Blue Note Taipei is to experience a living piece of Taiwan’s modern history — and some great artistry. See you there.
Sappho is Taipei’s only other music club dedicated to live jazz and is known for the casual atmosphere and professional jazz performances. After operating about 15 years on Anhe Road (安和路), it’s just moved to a place near MRT Zhongshan Elementary School station (捷運中山國小站). The Taipei Jazz Festival has been running annually since 2007, with large-scale outdoor concerts by top-notch local and overseas jazz bands staged in Daan Park. The annual Taichung Jazz Festival is held in the city of Taichung (台中市), on the west coast about 90 minutes by vehicle from Taipei.