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Image: Supplied


China / Netherlands  |  East Meets West Contemporary Vocal Jazz


Coco Zhao is recognized as one of China's most creative voices, with a poetic and expressive singing style that explores the possibilities of jazz and traditional Chinese music. 


He studied classical Chinese and Western music at the Shanghai Music Conservatory whilst learning on his own about jazz through illicit videotapes, records and friends, since no jazz education was available in China.  His first career highlights were a collaboration with Betty Carter at her performance at the Shanghai International Jazz Festival (1997) and performing for President Bill Clinton and his family during their visit to the city in 1998.   


A composer, arranger and vocalist, Coco has gone on to perform all over the world at major festivals and intimate jazz clubs, with audiences responding on a heart level to his unique and sensitive vocal style. His usual band configuration is a quartet, but he also loves a big band format and has performed with the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, the Estonia Dream Big Band and the JZ All-Star Big Band, the premier large jazz ensemble in China.


Coco is now based between Shanghai & Amsterdam and maintains a busy performance schedule. Known as a generous, talented and consummate professional, his list of collaborations and features is extensive and includes Sinne Eeg, Stacey Kent, Hein van der Gyn, Monique Klemann, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Christina von Bülow, Jacob Christoffersen, Diane Schuur, Jens Bunger, Ted Lo and Peng Fei.  Coco has released multiple albums, always exploring Jazz and often, the connection to his Chinese heritage and music.


Coco has received significant media coverage throughout his career, including on CNN, Huffington Post, San Francisco Times, Time Magazine, South China Morning Post, 60 Minutes, the award-winning ICS TV show “Culture Matters”, and his song Well Water Flower was performed by Chinese “King of Pop” Liu Huan on the show “Sing My Song”.


He has recently released a vinyl album with the JZ All Star Band; Shanghai Shanglow features big band arrangements of traditional Chinese folk songs & poetry, jazz standards & original compositions.



"China’s foremost jazz vocalist"
Toronto Star


  • Performed and recorded with the JZ All-Star Big Band, directed by Mats Homquist (2020)

  • Performed with the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (2015)

  • FIrst Chinese artist to perform at Montreal Jazz Festival (2006)


  • Shanghai Shanglow - with JZ All Star Band - Vinyl Album (2022)

  • The Flow of Things - with Sonic Calligraphy (2013)

  • Le Spin Ovale meets Coco Zhao (2011)

  • Solitary Bird (2009)

  • Flower is Not Flower (2007)

  • Dream Situation - Coco Zhao & the Possicobilities (2006)

  • All that Shanghai Jazz (2005)

  • Heart String (1997)


  • Asian Cultural Council's Autumn Serenade

  • Jazz à Juan, France

  • Elbjazz Festival, Germany

  • JZ Festival, China

  • Standard Bank Jazz Festival, South Africa 

  • Singapore Jazz Festival

  • Hong Kong Jazz Festival

  • Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Denmark

  • Jaffa Jazz Festival, Israel

  • Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy

  • RefLight Jazz Festival, Netherlands 

  • Miri Jazz Festival, Malaysia


  • Duo: Vocals & Piano / Guitar

  • Quartet: Vocals, Piano, Bass & Drums

  • Quartet + Additional instruments

  • Big Band

Coco's versatility allows him to select a band format depending on the performance.