Peel Fresco is recognised as Hong Kong’s only Jazz club though it stopped being a “jazz club” over three years ago.

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Frankly, who really knows what all that “jazz” is these days, anyway?

Some scat singing? Tedious solos by everyone in a group which, despite often being pretty shaky, are applauded wildly by audiences desperate to be seen as understanding the difference between a flat and a sharp?

To be blunt, most who do all this “digging of the grooves” like trained chimpanzees think anyone who can hit high notes or growl like Satchmo, or that pretentious American Idol winner from a few years ago- Taylor Hicks-have “soul”.

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Getting back to Peel Fresco, the night we were there, Ted Lo was on drums leading a band made up of a visiting horn player, some fairly young guys and the very young and gifted Ricky, the R in maRK, the best group in Hong Kong by the proverbial mile.

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Ted Lo is a seasoned musician- he can play any instrument though these days he sticks to drums- who has played with some truly brilliant NYC musicians since when HE was young, and is now passing down his knowledge, his passion and the baton to young local musicians.

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Ted should be applauded for his commitment and unselfish giving to young musicians- refreshing to see in Hong Kong’s usually jealous, fake, petty-minded, back-stabbing, small-time music world.

As this make-shift group did their set pieces with each one soloing as the audience made that token gesture of politely applauding, my eyes were on Ricky.

It made me wonder if young guys like him from their very own “new school” could, perhaps, become TOO influenced by the old schoolers as, more and more, I have seen this latter group stuck in an Eighties funk groove, and simply incapable of the Now.

They don’t listen to who and what’s happening today, which, sadly, comes out whenever they form makeshift groups.

That Cool Factor is not there, and many- too many- female singers in Hong Kong have taken that “jazz route” so early on in their careers that they now sound and look far older than their years and musical doobedoobedooscoobadoobaabaa caricatures.

Unlike the fabulous Nikki Yanofsky, they come across as third rate copyists or singers who are “good for Hong Kong”.

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“Good for Hong Kong”, or being “the best” in this city isn’t hard. And, often, this leads to musical lethargy, a false sense of entitlement and self-importance, plus pretty tired performances along with discardable recordings that only remain as expensive vanity pieces.

When the Beatles happened, along with all the charter members of the British Beam Boom Club, they seemed much older to the fledgling bands formed by fans who wanted to be them when, in actuality, there was only a 6-7 year age difference- except for Stevie Winwood who was 14 when running the Spencer Davis Group.

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The thinking and influences between musical hero and fan were on the same wavelength.

Even if influenced by the songs and writers from Tin Pan Alley, having musical heroes who were in one’s same age group meant everything.

When they evolved, we grew with them. There wasn’t an entire generation gap. It inspired us to try harder as if they could do it, we could, except, of course, for a few untouchables.

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Apart from David Foster, who, to me, takes young talent and turns them into gawdawful singing muppets too old for their years, we all need mentors- in music and in life.

In a small city like Hong Kong, however, mentors in music- real mentors- are in short supply as, sadly, perhaps those all-too familiar names who became “famous” here were just not good enough?

In fact, a number of “local icons”- singers, musicians, disc jockeys, music and television executives- were truly mediocre- and this mediocrity was allowed to be elevated into “legendary status” by an easily swayed media who were sucker punched, or simply because this was “back in the day” when competition was sparse.

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This is why every one of those young talents they took under their wings and to whom they gave advice are still to achieve anything worthwhile.

This not only worries me, it pisses me off.

In Hong Kong, a city pretty much void of true mentors other than a handful of musicians like Ted Lo, I much prefer to see young musicians work with a clean slate and create their own sound without any guidance so they have ownership of that New School and allow in only who they want.

It’s why, I have all the time in the world for maRK- young, gifted, innovative and from Hong Kong.

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maRK are the real deal, and not that faked out piece of acting by Canto-Pop duo Robynn and Kendy- an act signed to a major label and professionals- pretending to be unknowns from Hong Kong on China’s version of The Voice. Oh, please, god, stop this nonsense.

The two girls, now in their late twenties, look stupid as they try to act like adolescent bimbos, the judges and supposed mentors are cons, and it proves that, again, whoever persuaded this duo to take this dopey road to stardom are clueless.

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We never stop learning- from different people, from different experiences, and from time to time, this comes from new places.

I recently watched an episode of “Criminal Minds”, and the performance of Joe Mantegna reminded me what truly great acting is.

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We “collect” mentors and respect their work- the brilliant and the average.

So, along with Lennon, Dylan, George Harrison, Don Henley, writers and poets Roald Dahl, Tennyson, Milton, Ben Fong-Torres, Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus and the good Doctor, actors and film makers like Hitchcock, Polanski, Scorsese, David Lynch, Tim Burton, Brando, Pacino, Depp, Penn and Duval, I can add that incredible performance by Mantegna.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS7-hbc9s7k

Stop learning, and the world stops turning for you.

Just don’t follow leaders and watch your parking meters.

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Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance and Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.com

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