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Cuong Vu: More Power in a Collective

By Published: September 5, 2005
AAJ: The motivation of terror.

CV: Yeah. So that was rough, and after that tour, I was like, "this is never going to happen again. I never want to feel less than the people on the stage that I'm with; I never want to feel like I'm being intimidated. Fuck that—that's not going to happen ever again." So I spent like eight to ten hours a day practicing all the stuff that I was learning in college about playing over changes, form—just trying to get back. And then for the second tour, it was totally cool. But I had to work my ass off to get back! And the hard thing about it is doing something that you don't believe in. I did it because I respect those guys and I wanted to be a part of it—but before he asked me to play in the band, I was like, "that way of playing is old, dead, I don't want to do it." But the good thing is, now that I've gotten better, I realize that I can actually use this to my advantage. I can actually incorporate this into my music and find a fresh way for me to approach playing over changes, over form, or whatever. Just playing jazz. And not having to feel so bitter and hateful towards that music anymore. So it turned out to be a really good thing.

AAJ: Are you going to do it in the future?

CV: I'm going to do it until I feel like I'm not getting anything out of it. Or until they feel like they're not getting anything out of me. So it can end tomorrow or it can last another ten years. You just never know; people change their minds every day. As long as it's fun and I feel like I'm growing and contributing, it's cool.

AAJ: Very reasonable. So you have this new album; therefore I assume you won't be recording a new one very soon. So what are you doing for the rest of this year?

CV: Basically, try to get the record out there. Hopefully, more interviews and reviews will come, and I'm trying to set up as many tours as I can. And if I have time, hopefully I can just spend fifteen minutes a day writing, and come up with some nuggets that I can then work on later. Just try to get better at writing. I don't want to go another four years without doing a record. But I also don't want to do a record if I don't have anything to say. It just comes down to working on it.

Visit Cuong Vu on the web.

Selected Discography

Cuong Vu, It's Mostly Residual (ArtistShare, 2005)
Pat Metheny Group, The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005)
Myra Melford's The Tent, Where the Two Worlds Touch (Arabesque, 2004)
Matthias Lupri, Transition Sonic (Summit, 2004)
Andy Laster, Window Silver Bright (New World, 2002)
Pat Metheny Group, Speaking of Now (Warner Brothers, 2002)
Cuong Vu, Come Play With Me (Knitting Factory, 2001)
Laurent Brondel, Weld (Tone Casualties, 2001)
Laurie Anderson, Life on a String (Atlantic, 2001)
Cuong Vu, Pure (Knitting Factory, 2000)
Cuong Vu, Bound (Omnitone, 2000)
Ron SexsmithWhereabouts (Interscope, 1999)
Assif Tsahar's Brass Reeds Ensemble, The Hollow World (Hopscotch, 1999)
Orange Then Blue, Hold the Elevator: Live in Europe & Other Haunts (GM, 1999)
Chris Speed's Yeah NO, Deviantics (Songlines, 1999)
Gerry Hemingway, Chamber Works (Tzadik, 1999)
Ken Schaphorst Big Band, Purple (Naxos Jazz, 1998)
Chris Speed's Yeah NO, Yeah No (Songlines, 1997)
Dave Douglas, Sanctuary (Avant, 1997)
Cuong Vu/Jamie Saft, Ragged Jack (Avant, 1997)
Andy Laster, Interpretations of Lessness (Songlines, 1996)
Bobby Previte's Weather Clear, Track Fast, Too Close to the Pole (Enja, 1996)
Jeff Song & Lowbrow, Rules of Engagement (Asian Improv, 1995)
Mili Bermejo Quartet, Casa Corazon (Green Linnet, 1994)
Orange Then Blue, While You Were Out (GM, 1992)

Photo Credits
Top photo: Valerie Trucchia
All others: Virginia Valdes

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