Li Daiguo

Based in: Dali, CHINA
For fans of: John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Abing
(2006 – present)

Li Daiguo is one of the leading figures in China’s experimental and traditional music communities. Within the past decade, the American transplant has carved out a singular niche that few others occupy, that of skilled improvisational artist (he has a reputation for leaving jaws on the floor, layman and critic alike), musical polymath (proficient at a dozen different instruments alongside throat-singing and beatboxing) and dynamic live performer known for his eclectic collaborations with a seemingly-limitless roster of colorful characters and ensembles, including transgressive Japanese butoh dancers, fellow all-star musicians (marquee names like Yan Jun, Li Tieqiao, Wu Na, Xiao He and Dickson Dee) and other lunatics that he meets when he is busking, an activity that he does frequently and anonymously.

Having received formal training since toddlerhood in Western classical music (violin, viola, cello, bass) and later in traditional Chinese music (namely stringed instruments like the erhu and pipa), the Oklahoma-born Li dove into the global music cannon and the sprawling world of improvisation after enrolling at San Diego State University with a double major in Western classical violin performance and literature.

After moving to China in the mid-2000s, Li made a name for himself as a distinguished composer and soloist, in part, due to his acclaimed performances throughout the country’s live music venues, festivals and of course, on the streets.

Li continues to be active in the global creative community with a steady stream of endeavors across a multitude of mediums, including collaborative efforts with dance companies, abstract noise collectives and a consistent flow of recordings released in between appearances on the international tour circuit that run the gamut from dubstep to meditative soundtracks.

“I’m still a student of many things,” Li told us before the release of “Music for Advertisements,” his first effort with Genjing Records. “It’ll take me at least 20 years before I will feel that I might possibly have something to say from a different perspective.”

LI DAIGUO makes music with the following instruments: pipa, nanyin pipa, members of the huqin family (including the erhu, sihu and banhu erxian), a variety of ethnic flutes (including the hulusi, koudi, bawu, xiao and the nanxiao, the Chinese predecessor of the better-known Japanese shakuhachi), the Zimbabwean mbira, violin, viola, cello, beatboxing and overtone singing.

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