Jan. 30, 2013 - Issue #902: Come cry with Daniel Romano
Denis Chang Manouche Quartet
His fingers fly across the neck of a guitar with the speed and assured sense of placement that comes only with hours upon hours of practice and determination.
Guitar virtuoso Denis Chang first picked up a six-string at age 12 when his friends were beginning to learn the instrument and he wanted to be part of it all. Chang took classical lessons, but his friends were learning to play rock songs, and he soon followed suit, learning tunes from Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
However, it was Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt who became one of Chang's most prevalent influences—one that would shape the multi-faceted approach of Chang's current style, an all-encompassing blend of Bach, Chopin, George Benson and even Michael Jackson.
"It was basically the way he played," Chang explains. "It was a mix of all the styles that I liked: it was the intensity of rock music, there's a jazz aspect, a dancing aspect, classical aspects as well, so it was one big melting pot of all the stuff that I liked."
As Chang notes, in Reinhardt's time, there was no rock 'n' roll, nor were there the genres and subgenres that exist today, but it's been these other influences that have allowed him to craft his own sound rather than becoming a carbon copy of his hero.
In recent years, Chang, also a highly sought-after teacher and renowned for his improvising abilities, has moved from performing solely compositions of other musicians to showcasing his own originals. A self-professed perfectionist, he says that while he had been composing for some time, he would always end up scrapping the end result. He's currently in the midst of putting together his next recording, where these meticulous compositions take centre stage. There's no release date as of yet, as Chang is taking his time with each composition, bringing each to its full potential.
"I can never satisfy myself; I was never happy," he says, adding he's learned to accept compositions and perform them as they are, chuckling that he hopes people aren't just being polite when they receive positive feedback. "Some of the songs that are more well-received are the ones that took me 10 seconds to write. Some songs, you struggle with them for months or weeks and then suddenly there's this inspiration and you write it in 10 seconds and it's there."
Thu, Feb 7 (7:30 pm)
Horizon Stage, $25 – $30
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