Primary Instrument: Piano
Yuwen Peng is a pianist, composer and the founder of Taiwanese sextet Sizhukong. After graduating in Sociology at the University of Taiwan she moved to Boston to study at Berklee, where she graduated in jazz composition in 2005. With her heightened appreciation for jazz, Peng returned to Taiwan and formed Sizhukong, a fusion of Chinese traditional music and modern sounds, influenced by jazz and African rhythms.
The band’s first album, Sizhukong, was released in 2007, followed by Paper Eagle in 2009. In 2010, Peng began incorporating new sounds in the band’s music by using electric guitar, electric keyboards as well as flirting with electronics. Sony signed up the band, and 2012 saw the release of Sizhukong’s third album, Spin.
With Peng steering the band through new musical waters, Sizhukong have played jazz festivals throughout Asia. In March 2012, the band was invited to perform several dates in Canada, as part of Canadian Music Week (CMW). The response from fans and other musicians was extremely positive.
Peng’s jazz-influenced piano may be at the helm of the band, but she draws heavily from Taiwanese and Chinese folk tradition as a basis for her compositions. Now, with a more modern brand of jazz-fusion coloring the music, Peng has once more reinvented Sizhukong.
Jazz's first century has thrown up few examples of Chinese folk music which has found new voice in this idiom. Buck Clayton, in collaboration with Li Jinhui, spent two years in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, adapting Chinese folk music to ballroom jazz, but nothing was recorded. Jazz's second century should see a change in this situation, and leading the way is Taiwanese group Sizhukong, whose second CD is a stunning advertisement for the possibilities of Chinese folk music merged with jazz.