Coco Zhao

Coco was born in 1977 in a small town named Shao Yang, located in Hunan province in central China. Growing up in an environment of traditional Chinese music deeply influenced his life and career. His parents are both musicians, specializing in Traditional Chinese Opera.

In 1986 he began formal musical training, first with piano lessons and later taking lessons in Western classical music.

He was accepted to the Music Academy of Wuhan in 1987 to major in oboe performance.  There, he received education in all the forms and periods of Western classical music, as well as continued education in traditional Chinese music.

In 1993 Coco was accepted into the Music Conservatory of Shanghai, majoring in composition and oboe.  There he served as protege to Professor Zhao Xiao Shen studying atonal composition.  It was at this time that he began to develop an interest in various genres of modern music.

At the end of 1994 he started performing solo in bars and clubs in Shanghai, which began to earn him some reputability.

1995, Coco begin his auto-didactic education in jazz and has since continued to delve quite deeply into it.  Later that year he formed his first band as a leader: Coco & Co.

Since 1995, Coco & Co. have performed in every major bar and club in Shanghai.  Coco & Co. were one of a kind in Shanghai, and rose quickly to fame as they attracted much attention from international media.

In 1997, Coco was invited on several occasions to perform at consulates, receptions, and launches for international brand names such as Louis Vuiton, Vidal Sassoon, Beny, and Unilever,In July 1997, Coco performed two solo jazz concerts at the Shangri-La Hotel in Shen Zhen in southwestern China.  The turnout was momentuous and succeeded in increasing dramatically the awareness of and interest in jazz in Shen Zhen.  The event was also reported in a special feature of the Shen Zhen New Area Post.  In the same month, he performed at Post 97, a private club in Hong Kong。

In November of 1997, Coco had the great honor of co-operating with world famous jazz singer Betty Carter at her performance at the International Jazz Festival in Shanghai.  They sang together in various Jazz clubs in Shanghai after the concert.

This amazing experience was extremely inspirational for Coco, as he was able to learn a great deal about Jazz singing from his interaction with Betty.

In 1997, he was invited by Parisian Radio station Europe One to appear in a jazz music program entitled: “La Boite de

Jazz”.  During the trip to Paris, Coco performed at renowned Jazz clubs Bois D’Arcy and Petit Journal Montparnasse with local Parisian jazz bands.  These were his first performances abroad and the local media gave him the name “The Boy Billy Holiday from China”.  At this time he was only 19 years old.

He was able to return to Europe twice in 1998, and during his tours through France, Holland, and Spain, gained increased exposure to European musicians.

He was featured in the 2000 Yan Huang International Chinese Arts Festival held at Canary Wharf in London, and during the same trip performed on stage at other venues including the Four Seasons Hotel and the Green Room in Manchester.

In 2001 Coco was invited to perform a concert at the Cultural Exchange Center in LiJiang, Yunnan province, and in 2002 gave a concert at the Loft Lounge in Zurich, Switzerland.

In 2003 Coco was invited again to Europe to perform in Germany, during his stay in Germany Coco met Udo Lindenberg, Axel Zwingerber and Vince Weber and had a great music exchange with them.

In Nov 2005 Coco and his band were invited to perform at the Emporium in Bangkok, Thailand, and also at the Asian Swing Jazz festival in the Fringe Club, HK。

In Dec 2005, Coco, together with Florent Brique (a French trumpet player) organized the first multi-media post-contemporary concert in Shanghai. The “Shanghai Surnatural Orchestra” performed at the leading jazz venue, JZ Club.

In late April 2006, Coco was invited to perform the main act for the opening ceremony of the “Step International Modern Dance Festival” in the Maag Music Hall in Zurich, Switzerland.

In May 2006, Coco was invited to perform lead vocal at the Bangkok Jazz Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

At the end of July 2006, Coco was invited by Florent Brique and his electro group to attend the program “West to East” at the “Jazz im Brunnenhof Trier 2006”, Germany.