Saturday, January 09, 2010

BEI XU does Strawberry Fields and Cyndi Lauper

An angel of the odd, Bei Xu is a Chinese jazz singer who not only loves the standards, but likes to offer long, jazz-tinged versions of classic rock songs.

As one might expect, the Asian flavoring she brings, tends to add strange notes of sweet and sour to the proceedings. Is she singing a little flat? Is she aware of the nuances in the lyrics? You might find yourself wondering if you're actually enjoying this strange mix of East and West since the downbeat is so offbeat. At times she shows a hint of the desultory, anemic style of Natalie Merchant, other times there's a baffling trace of Yoko Ono.

On "Strawberry Fields," she seems to intentionally be singing numb, and that extends to the malfunctioning computing of a few lines: "Always know sometimes I think it's me but you know I know it's a dream. I think oh no I mean oh yes but it's all wrong. That is I think I disagree." On Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," she again finds alienation in the lyric and favors detachment in her cool jazz approach.

Her backing band is pretty eccentric as well. On "Time After Time," 4 minutes in, the pianist switches over to only playing the black notes, which will always twist things to the East. At the 3 minute mark on "Strawberry Fields" there's the brief influence of "Wild Honey Pie" and vintage "Abbey Road" Ringo drumming, and maybe the ghost of Billy Preston.

Be assured that her interpretations of jazz standards are similarly bewildering, baffling and rather bewitching. For the record, Bei considers herself primarily a jazz vocalist, and sites Carmen McRae and Dianne Reeves as her influences. As a foreign exchange student, she came to America ten years ago, enrolling at Indiana University. She moved to NYC to study jazz with Charles Sibirsky and has amazed audiences by singing jazz in Chinese and by covering classic songs with her unique Asian flavor. Her albums come to us via Chinese import CDs. Thanks! Or as we hombres put it, Bei-same Much-xu!

BEI XU Strawberry Fields
BEI XU Time After Time

Update: Nov, 2011. Rapidshare's annoying "30 days without a download kills it" policy killed the original links. They are back via a better company. Instant download or listen on line.

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