Books and Films by Andrew Field

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Strange Cities: A Multimedia Site on Old Shanghai

Three years ago, while researching the history of jazz music in Shanghai, I discovered that one of Shanghai's most famous bandleaders from the 1930s, a White Russian named Serge Ermoll, had migrated with his family to Sydney.  It turns out that his son, also named Serge, is a very accomplished jazz pianist and quite well known here in the jazz community.  His granddaughter, Tatiana Pentes, has taken her family history and constructed a wonderful multimedia website incorporating some of her own original collection of photos and documents from her grandparents. 

According to Tatiana, her grandparents told fantastic stories about their lives in Shanghai to their friends in Sydney, who never quite believed them.  They never recovered from having to leave the wondrous city of Shanghai, where Serge Ermoll had been a star performer.  He had performed at the Paramount Ballroom and also played to the wedding of Chiang Kai-shek at the Majestic Hotel in 1927, along with his friend Whitey Smith, whose memoir _I Didn't Make a Million_ published in the Philippines in 1958 is the best source on the jazz scene in late 1920s Shanghai that I have seen.

 Tatiana's website Strange Cities features multimedia "experiences" involving sound and image that convey in a dreamlike fashion the polyglot history of the city of Shanghai.  I highly recommend a look-see.  I'm hoping that someday I'll have the funds to hire Tatiana to help me build a multimedia resource on the nightlife of Old Shanghai.


Reader Comments (1)

I am anxiously awaiting working on multimedia SHANGHAI BY NIGHT for your Andrew....& many thanks for your excellent lecture @ the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney on the Old Ballrooms of Shanghai, June 2007. Tatjana x
June 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTatjana

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