The oldest band of the world has been playing every evening at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai for more than thirty years. Most members of the band, all Jazz musicians of the first rank, are older than 80 years.

AS TIME GOES BY IN SHANGHAI accompanies the oldest band in the world on their greatest adventure yet: their appearance at the North Sea Jazz Festival Rotterdam, the most important festival of its kind.

In the final weeks before their appearance, this musical film will immerse itself in a world of unparalleled change. Jazz stands for improvisation, individualism, freedom and creativity. Against the backdrop of great jazz hymns, the film will chart the fascinating life stories of these seven exceptional musicians: from the Japanese occupation to the Cultural Revolution right up to today’s turbo planned economy. With humour, wisdom and a tale or two being spun on the way, the men in black suits will lead us on a tour of their everyday lives in one of the world’s most modern cities and show us how good old jazz has given them the strength to weather the storms of time.

Interview / Director's Statement
I can still recall precisely when I was asked by my second grade teacher whether I wanted to join the school brass band. As I dreamed of being a sailor, I felt that this could be good preparation. A lot of ships were sent on their way by orchestras playing in their harbour, or at least they were in my imagination.

So I joined the band and tooted away on my fanfare for the first two years, without ever seeing a ship close up. We marched past the party functionaries in our town each year on May 1. After two years, we had become a real orchestra and I was given the role of first trumpet. I soon noticed that playing the trumpet was very attractive to women, especially when you performed solos.

I experienced my entire childhood and youth from the perspective of a musician who took part in all the state events. But the political side of things was always soemthing of a sideshow; far more important were the wonderful friendships I made and the impact on my youthful romantic life. Then the wall fell and I moved to Berlin. The time for marching was over and I took lessons as a jazz trumpeter. I wasn’t talented enough to be really good but my love for the instrument was kept alive by a couple of years in the “Bolshevik Kurkapelle”. When I started making films, I packed my trumpet away in its case and I’ve only played sporadically since then, mainly with my son, when Santa Claus comes. But I still remember well the feeling of being the court jester as a musician, having a laugh and being able to express oneself loudly to the world outside.

From that point of view, I felt an affinity with my musical colleagues in China: regardless of which culture you come from, we’re all essentially the same. When I made my first short film about a band made up of patients in an asylum in Havanna, I was also the first to pick up a trumpet and play Boleros with them as best I could. And now, a couple of weeks ago, during my research in Shanghai, it was time for me to do it again. Someone pushed an instrument into my hand and I banged out a couple of improvisations. The old men in their black suits looked pleased and there was an instant bond of trust and increased intimacy between us as they realised that I too had the heart of a musician.

Uli Gaulke
Awards / Festivals
Hot Docs Int. Documentary Festival 2013
Shanghai Film Festival 2013
Film Festival Hof 2013
Margaret Mead Festival New York 2013
IDFA Amsterdam 2013
Cast / Crew
Uli Gaulke

Helge Albers

Commissioning Editor
Jutta Krug (WDR)

Director of Photography
Jörg Jeshel
Axel Schneppat

Silke Rohrlach
Markus Schmidt

Raimund von Scheibner

Eine Flying Moon Produktion
in Coproduction with WDR

Funded by
German Federal Film Board FFA
Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg MBB
Deutscher Filmförderfonds DFFF
Links ai n_shanghai!/@HelgeAlbers ace-old-jazz-band?ref=email%20