We arrived in Hong Kong at around 9 am. We had the easiest immigration procedure. My 75-year-old aunt requested for a wheel-chair, allowing us not to line up at the immigration queue. Hong Kong International Airport is a city in itself with their own mall and train station.
After lunch over a bowl of noodle soup and fish cakes, I told my aunts that I will leave them to explore Hong Kong on my own. Going around Hong Kong is easy because of the very efficient transportation system. They have taxis, buses, trains, but I prefer the subway of course.
Fringe Club is my first destination. Last week, while I was drafting my itinerary, I saw this Jazz Event at the Fringe Club. I booked a ticket and decided to experience the music scene in Hong Kong. The Fringe Club is an avenue where budding artists launch their artwork. This is also where the creative buffs gather to consume and create art and music.
My expectation was actually a typical lunch. I will order food or coffee and listen to Jazz music in the background. I was wrong. It was a concert type event where we had to sit, focus and watch the musicians play. I doubted if Jazz is something that you watch.
I grew up listening to Jazz. My dad has this jazz CD and LP collection from Louis Armstrong to Ray Charles to Norah Jones. My uncle, who was with my mom in Hong Kong during the 80s is also a local jazz artist. He still remains my favourite saxophone player in the world. I also fell in love with Billie Holiday and her music during my “hipster days”. But the first time I experienced Jazz as a spiritual experience was the one I recently had at Fringe Club.
I sat on the second row next to a couple of women. They looked like they only sneaked out from their regular 8-5 work to watch the one-hour two-man show. I bought a coffee because everyone in the small audience was either eating a sandwich from 711 or holding a cup. It was an expensive cup of coffee, but it tastes good. Well, I needed to blend in with the locals and expats.
The artists went up to the stage at exactly 1 pm. Tjoe, the lead artist is about my age. He was wearing this pretty cool red long sleeves and a pair of fashionably worn out brown shoes. The guest artist was a bit older but bursting with charisma on stage, carrying with him his guitar and a cup of tea. They both have the musician’s sense of humour.
Then they started their gig and improvisation. We were watching the two dialogue using music. For the first time, I focused on Jazz. It’s different from listening to it in Starbucks. I focused on the movement of the artist’s fingers across the frets. I focused on how the two artists led each other during the improv. I was planning to do an Instagram Live or record at least a song, but I did not bother. I do not want to waste that moment. No one is doing it either. It would be awkward for me to bring out my phone. Everybody has their eyes fixed on the artists. I even noticed the woman in front of me paints a picture of the artists using a portable watercolour set. The woman next to me sighed every time she hears the quick chord shifts, from low to high or high to low. I sometimes close my eyes to feel the music.
You have to be in the moment to appreciate jazz. I had the epiphany that like this jazz event, we should always feel the moment. Our autopilot is to spend our days mindlessly. We waste precious time by allowing our irrational minds to take over. The next we know is that the day is finally over.
I am praying that throughout our busy days, let us find time to root ourselves at the moment. Close your eyes. Listen to jazz or any kind of music. Don’t hear it but listen to it. This is a good practice to feel the now and to get consumed by the present moment.
Peace to you!
Jazz has a meditative history. John Coltrane, one of the famous Jazz players of all time pushed the boundaries of Jazz. He created music to connect to the divine. His A Love Supreme, Om, and Ascension. A Love Supreme is a prayer and dedication to His maker. His inspiration comes from a week of meditation.
Picture with the artists:
Fringe Dairy, Hong Kong Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR China
How I got there:
MTR Central Station, exit D1. Turn right on Pedder Street, cross Queen’s Road Central and walk up Wyndham Street.