Chao Tian & Tom Teasley
Best World Music Artist/Group
Dong Xi is a collaboration between world percussionist Tom Teasley and world-renowned Chinese dulcimer artist Chao Tian. Their uniqueness is driven by Tom and Chao’s cultural backgrounds and their intellectual musical creativity produces a refreshing new chemistry.
With the current trend of globalization between the U.S. and China, collaboration and communication need to be established in more than just the fields of politics and economics. Dong Xi provides cultural exchange via an improvised musical dialogue. Most performances between Chinese and American musicians are pre-arranged, but Dong Xi’s musical tête-à-tête is on-the-go, spontaneous, and intriguingly unknown. Such conversation is established and conducted through mutual respect and understanding of each other’s culture, to support, disseminate, and showcasing each other’s cultural legacy.
Dong Xi strives to better convey and interpret Chinese and U.S. music and culture. From musical performance to the reception of the audience, to the promotion of resonance and inner feelings, this collaboration has greater power than simply presenting each country’s culture. Both Tom and Chao are musical polyglots who have successfully broken the barriers and hurdles between cultures and art forms, in a never-ending quest to fascinate, inspire, and discover new sounds, meanings, and art.
They have performed at many famous venues and events in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Michigan. In 2019, they released their first album, "Out of the Blue," and were invited to China for a teaching residency. They are also the Wammie Award winners for Best World Music Artist/Group and the nominees for Outstanding Sound Design of the 2020 Helen Hayes Award.
Photo by Louis Tinsley
Mysticism & Music, Constellation Company, 2021
"Stationed at the center of a bare, multilevel stage, Tom Teasley and Chao Tian blaze through a percussion-steeped score that is, by turns, poignant and pulse-quickening. The two are as satisfying to watch as to hear: Tian, a Chinese-dulcimer virtuoso, hovers over her instrument with rapt alertness, each movement suggesting sweeping vision and impeccable focus. As Constellation regular Teasley supplies percussion and more, he all but dances in his seat, pumping energy into this world premiere production, a meditation on humans’ age-old quest to reach, or fuse with, the divine and transcendent...Through it all, Teasley and Tian keep the exquisite music going, artist-exemplars of the Rumi maxim “You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” - Celia Wren, The Washington Post
Tom Teasley and Chao Tian embark on a spiritual odyssey with “Mysticism & Music” - André Hereford, Metro Weekly
The White snake, Constellation Company, 2019
“Tom Teasley wizards up a propulsive soundscape in collaboration with Chao Tian, a Chinese-dulcimer virtuoso.” - Celia Wren, The Washington Post
“…mesmerizing sound by duo Tom Teasley and Chao Tian…" - Beatrice Loayza, DC Metro Arts
“sublime” - Mary Ann Johnson, Maryland Theatre Guide
Out of the Blue, 2019
Dong Xi is a collaboration between percussionist Tom Teasley and Chinese dulcimer virtuoso Chao Tian. They fuse Chinese folk and classical music with American jazz. The resulting world fusion is an enticing conversation between east and west through music. The music is performed and composed by Dong Xi with a lot of free improvisation. It most closely reminds us of music from Hiroshima but slimmed down to a crisp duo, a union that produces good fruit and holds promise for much more.- D. Oscar Groomes,O's Place Jazz Newsletter
In a unique concert spanning cultures, Dong Xi leads the audience on an eclectic musical journey. They combine musical traditions into original music inspired by Chinese folk, classical music, and American jazz. The musicians intersperse their performances with demonstrations of and commentary on their music and creative processes.
Past shows for example:
Educational Program (Workshop/Residency)
Dong Xi enjoys participating in school programs and residencies. They offer workshops and community outreach to professionals and non-professionals with topics including but not limited to "Musical Improvisation", "Concepts and Vocabulary in Dong Xi's Music", "Respect, Listen, and Collaborate", "The Way," and "Breaking the Boundaries".
Samples of the previous event:
ASIA NORTH 2021Virtual Concert and Workshop (Towson University)
Online workshop for Ethnomusicology program of Boston College
Teaching Residency at Beijing Language and Culture University, China, 2019
Dong Xi has been toured as a cultural envoy in China. They use music to highlight the complementarity between Eastern and Western music and present to the audience a proper blending of the Oriental and Occidental art and what it could add to the beauty and diversity of our cultural life. Just as the name "Dong Xi' implies, they inject new inspiration and energy to the ever closer ties between the people of China and America through music.
Before we start recording we got a keyword of China Jazz to improvise on. The monitor headphones were the only link between us and through our ears we formed a delicate balance and subtlety of changes. Based on a jazzy rhythm and the use of traditional Chinese pentatonic scale and Chinese gongs this piece vividly depicted a glimpse of the glory of the Tang Dynasty, hence we named it “Chang’an”.
It is a humorous conversation between Chao (playing on the wooden edge of her Yangqin and Tom on the rims of his drums to simulate the sound of walnuts rolling down wooded stairs.
This is an improvisation for The Bonita Lestina Old Town Hall Performance Series. All elements in this music floats freely like falling leaves.
Tom Teasley and Chao Tan Release Debut Album
"Out of the Blue"
We are honored to welcome you to our new world of sound and bi-lingual music. Dong Xi, is collaboration between world percussionist Tom Teasley and Chinese dulcimer (Yangqin) virtuoso Chao Tian that began in late 2018 through a partnership with the Music Center at Strathmore Artist-In-Residence program. Our sound is a merging of world rhythms—fusing American jazz and rhythm & blues, with the elegance of Chinese folk and classical music. Tom Teasley combines global percussion from Africa, India, Middle-East, Brazil, and Cuba with American jazz. Chao Tian performs with techniques that combine her traditional Chinese classical and folk background with those reminiscent of the Persian santoor, American dulcimer, and even slide guitar. Their music is frequently completely improvised, thus creating a dialog between east and west using music to express what words cannot express.
With the current trend of globalization between the U.S. and China, collaboration and communication needs to be established in more than just the fields of politics and economics. Dong Xi provides cultural exchange via an improvised musical dialogue, which requires careful listening and empathy. Unlike most dialogs (including musical performances) between Chinese and Americans, which are pre-arranged, Dong Xi’s musical tête-à-tête is on-the-go, spontaneous, and intriguingly unknown. Such conversation is the result of listening, mutual respect and understanding of each other’s culture, with a goal to support, disseminate, and showcase each other’s cultural legacy.
While the obvious musical dialog is between American and Chinese influences, the well they draw from is much deeper. Take for example “Silk Wave” which fuses Middle Eastern daff techniques with Persian santoor influences. “Boiling Water” combines Teasley on the Arabic darbuka while Chao opens with sounds reminiscent of a slide guitar while reflecting on the passage of time from youth to midlife that she likens to boiling water representing both passion and playfulness. “Oriental Alley” and ”The Harvest have a rhythmic groove inspired by American rhythm and blues performed between cajon, djembe, pandeiro and timbale (used as a bass drum voice) while Chao’s dulcimer is contemplatively mesmerizing. “Jungle Train” begins with Teasley featuring the Middle Eastern riq and Chao eliciting train sounds from the Chinese dulcimer before merging into an impressive improvisation. We like to offer the image of riding an antique train through the jungles, surrounded by exotic scenes and a strong sense of adventure. “Chang’an” which uses the traditional the Chinese pentatonic scale as well as Chinese gongs vividly depict a glimpse of the glory of the Tang Dynasty. “Kong Zhu” mimics the ever changing flow and the diverse way of playing of this ancient Chinese game. Both “Chang'an” and “Kong Zhu” tap into an American jazz rhythmic approach from both Chao and Teasley. “Rolling Walnuts” is a humorous dialog between Chao (playing on the wooden edge of her dulcimer and Tom on the rims of his drums to simulate the sound of walnuts rolling down wooded stairs. There are many stories to be revealed and we invite you to create your own story line to this music that transcends time and culture.
We sincerely hope you enjoy this spontaneous musical dialog between cultures as much as they have creating it.
Chao and Tom