Date: January 27, 2011
Location: The Fringe Club, Hong Kong.
Marsha Yuan and a group of talented musicians dropped by The Fringe last night to take part in the City Festival, an urban cultural festival showcasing local talent through a diverse array of artistic activities. Yuan, a former beauty queen and a B-list actress who has since reinvented herself as a sultry vocalist, possessed an expressive and sensual voice, but had difficulty finding adequate vocal support and a proper breathing rhythm for much of the evening. As a veteran entertainer, she effused a commanding stage presence, wiggling and twisting her curvaceous body in sync with the music in a titillating manner, and reminded me of Jessica, Roger Rabbit’s confident and sassy female companion. Feigned eroticism aside, it was not Yuan, but the group of talented musicians, including Ted Lo on keyboards, Eugene Pao on guitar, Peter Scherr on bass and Jack Greminger on drums, who lured me to the Thursday late-evening show in the first place. Ted Lo’s unorthodox harmonic arrangement of some of the evening’s standard numbers, including Sway and Summertime, brought an edgy, almost wild, harmonic thesis and a provocative bass line. Pao dutifully performed, though his playing was as conservative as the average lounge musician trying not to appear terribly bored while playing that same improvised tune for the umpteenth time. I wish Pao would, as he most certainly could, venture more into the outskirts of atonal counterpoints, rather than relying on fast running blue scales and augmented fifths – two of his dependable albeit rather banal signature moves.