Let's Talk About the Chinese Village That Worships the Sax and Kenny G

A New York Times story explores Sidangkou, the "saxophone capital" of China, and buddy, we're about it.

|
Jan 4 2018, 4:44pm

The sax will never die. As popular music continues to flirt with various forms of chintz, the world has grown to accept the blaring sounds of what was once a despised instrument. Certainly, M83 and Kendrick Lamar have done their part in bringing the sax back, but in North America, the love has at least some degree of ironic distance to it. This is not the case in one Chinese village.

In a story so good that we're embarrassed we weren't on it years ago, the New York Times delved into Sidankgou, a northern factory community of 4,000 located near the cities of Shanghai and Tianjin that has declared itself China's "saxophone capital." According to the piece, the village, a manufacturing hub, began producing saxophones in the 90s to export to Western clientele. The workers eventually started getting pretty good at the instruments, and apparently a repertoire of Chinese and Japanese folk songs and Kenny G jams (specifically, the Chinese shopping mall standard "Going Home") is now taught in schools as part of a "saxophone curriculum." The piece is filled with earnest testimonials from Sidangkou residents about the power of the sax that seem like jokes, except they are 100 percent not.

“It’s vibrant and delightful,” said Wang Yuchun, the president of one of the largest producers, Tianjin Shengdi Musical Instrument Co. “It’s part of our lives now.”

“It’s just so beautiful, I don’t know how to describe it,” said Zhao Baiquan, 55. “No matter how angry I am, it calms me down.”

“It’s my career, it’s my life,” said Mr. Fu, a factory worker. “I wake up seeing saxophones and go to sleep seeing saxophones.”

Look, as easy as it is to make fun of this, the love is too pure. Saxes never hurt anyone, the people of Sidangkou doubly so. They should be celebrated. The great healer was the sax all this time. In any case, you can read the entire NYT piece here.

Phil is on Twitter.