LONG SHEN DAO at Woodbine Park, Sunday, July 20. Rating: NNN
For coming all the way from Beijing (a first for the Beaches Jazz Festival), Chinese reggae giants Long Shen Dao landed the headlining spot on Sunday night.
The five-piece opened with an impressive psychedelic, Eastern-imbued jam that eventually morphed into a dubby reggae song, making the band sound like a cross between Fat Freddy's Drop and traditional Chinese music. The latter is thanks to the guzheng (zither) player; the instrument creates a plucked, harp-like sound we often associate with East Asian music.
Singing in Mandarin, the band showed a penchant for rock, as well as the most Bob Marley-like laidback reggae, finishing each tune with a "thank you, xiexie."
The songs that employed the guzheng were by far the most interesting. Less so were the Cantopop-meets-Magic! tunes that were definitely more upbeat, but a little twee. Also, it was strange having tunes that relied so much on cued-up horns, without having an actual horn section.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival runs until July 27.