The Shanghai Mimi Band
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The Shanghai Mimi Band

The Shanghai Mimi Band bring back to life the swinging jazz clubs of old Shanghai (上海). Their shidaiqu (時代曲) inspired style is a fusion of Chinese folk and American jazz that emerged from the 1930s Shanghai flash point of local and international talent.

The Shanghai Mimi Band parts the curtains on an enchanted world, proffering international talent and an intriguing backstory…
In 2003 an old warehouse in Mumbai India was being cleared for demolition. It had been owned by global music giant EMI when they distributed records under the Pathé label. Workers unearthed a trunk with Chinese writing on it containing the mother shells of about 800 songs from 30s and 40s Shanghai, the very reels used to press old vinyl 78s.

The recordings were re-released in Hong Kong by Schtung Music, reviving a genre that was being lost to time. The discovery inspired the Australian production, bringing songs like Deng Zhe Ni Hui Lai 等着你回来 (Waiting For You) and Ye Shang Hai 夜上海 (Shanghai Night Life) to a live, jazz-loving audience for the first time in decades.

1930s Shanghai was a magnet for international artists who performed in famous jazz venues on The Bund alongside Chinese singers and musicians. As the decade drew to an end, the foreign musicians drifted away taking with them works from a remarkable period in Shanghai’s cultural history.

The Shanghai Mimi Band create the feel and energy of old Shanghai, collectively reimagining the nearly lost musical style. Songs will be performed in both English and Chinese.

Featuring the extraordinary cheongsam chanteuse Nikki Zhao with pianist and Musical Director John McAll, singer Simon Abbé, Hiroki Finn Hoshino on bass, percussionist Brooke Custerson, Toby Mak on trumpet and Brennan Hamilton-Smith on clarinet, saxophone, flute and guitar.

The band’s show at Hawthorn Arts Centre rewinds to its international premiere at the 2019 Sydney Festival before the pandemic began.