SJZ Collective: 2019 Tour of Asia

And they’re off! The SJZ Collective have begun their 2019 Tour of Asia. Drummer Wally Schnalle chronicles their highly-anticipated venture.

Sep 30, 2019
Gig three of the SJZ Collective 2019 Asia Tour was in Beijing. We played at a funky smaller venue named DDC which Stands for Dusk till Dawn Club. The band is playing great out here on the road and we had a blast at this venue. This audience here was great as well and contributed to the great vibe of this place! They were so attentive to every note and stayed late into the evening on a Tuesday night exuberantly reacting to our music. This audience, just like at the previous two gigs, demanded an encore having us play over the allotted time. The owner, a pipe smoking character whose name is 69, was actually leading the cheering. 69 was a gracious host inviting us to stay late after the performance saying repeatedly “you drink more beers!” However, we had a long day exploring Beijing and only obliged with one post gig beverage.

Earlier that day we walked almost ten miles seeing the sights of Beijing. As China prepares for their 70th anniversary there is evidence of it everywhere. We waited in long security lines to get into Tiananmen Square, the scale of which is massive. We also explored the Temple of Heaven which was built in the 1400’s. And we had the most amazing Peking Duck lunch ever. Beijing is a world class city with much to explore but the tour doesn’t allow for that in the schedule. The next day we left at 5:30 am for Shanghai…another great city to explore, make new friends and perform in. This tour really feels like the first of many for the SJZ Collective as we are making many new friends and receiving many invitations to return and spread the word about San Jose Jazz.

Sep 27, 2019

After a successful and well received performance in Beijing’s Dusk Till Dawn Club, the Collective parted ways with bassist Saul Sierra-Alonso and boarded an early morning flight bound for the city of Shanghai, some 750 miles south, for a performance as the JZ Club’s Wooden Box.

Located at the mouth of the Huang Pu river, Shanghai has become one of the largest and most important cities in China. Not just as the economic powerhouse it’s known for the world ‘round, but also as a showcase for Chinese ingenuity, city-planning, and feats of civil-engineering.

The Collective played to an intimate and supportive audience of young Shanghainese, all celebrating their Wednesday evening with a few libations and the music of Mingus and Monk. The venue itself, The Wooden Box, is located a short walk away from Nanjing Road, a central downtown commercial thoroughfare that features high end Western shops, hotels, and eateries.

On their rest day, they were able to take in many of the sights and smells of Shanghai, including a visit to the world’s largest Starbucks Reserve, where they were able to sample beans grown and brewed locally, as well as other speciality items like milk coffee nitros, some of which were blended with alcohols and spirits like whiskey or vodka.

After a quick rest, the Collective moved on to visit Shanghai Tower, officially the 2nd tallest building as of 2019. The observation deck, located 100+ floors above the ground, offered breathtaking panoramic-views of Shanghai and its many mid- and high-rise commercial and residential buildings.

The Collective then took on a DiDi (China’s version on Uber) to a neighborhood across the river to visit Yang’s Fried Dumplings! These dumplings are very similar to a popular dish known as Xiolong Bao (XLB for short), except these were additionally fried for added texture.

They finally got back to the Airbnb, where they were able to snap a parting shot of Shanghai from their balcony. But they couldn’t afford to stay up any longer, as they needed to get rested up for another early flight bound for city of Guangzhou to the south.

Even with two days in Shanghai, it wasn’t nearly enough to discover all the wonderful things this city had to offer.

Sep 23, 2019

Last night we performed our second concert of the tour at the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival. The group sounded amazing as we played right up to the end of the venue’s time limitations. The crowd demanded an encore just as they did in Yokohama and once again the venue relented so we could continue. It’s honor to be able to represent San Jose Jazz in such an extraordinary way.

We had an early mid morning sound check which allowed some time to explore this beautiful city. Roast goose is a Hong Kong specialty and we had the pleasure of enjoying it at a Michelin star restaurant for lunch. We also took a ferry ride across the harbor. What a beautiful skyline this vertical city has!

After the concert, promoter Peter Lee took us out for a wonderful celebratory dinner. There we had an excellent meal and made many new friends including artists from France, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Tomorrow early morning shuttle to the airport and a flight to Beijing.

Sep 20, 2019

It was definitely a very long day of travel: a very long flight, trains, and a few subway rides but we made it all safe to one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world – Tokyo.

We had the pleasure to visit with luthier extraordinaire Masaki Nishimura from Westville guitars (the instruments I proudly endorse) and the Collective was able to visit the Westville guitars showroom in Shibuya where we picked up the special guitar I will play for the night’s show at Motion Blue (Blue Note) in Yokohama. Then, together with Masaki and a dear friend Shuji Oka, the Collective experienced an amazing seven-course Japanese dinner at an amazing restaurant. It was the perfect way to finish a very long day and celebrate the beginning of this wonderful music adventure!

Today we made it to Motion Blue in Yokohama where we were treated with the utmost professionalism. We played two sets to an appreciative audience which demanded an encore. A great first gig to the tour. Tomorrow we hit the sky’s again for Hong Kong where we will play the Hong Kong International Jazz Fest.