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ELBJAZZ 2017

Read "ELBJAZZ 2017" reviewed by Ian Patterson

ELBJAZZ 2017 Blohm and Voss/various venues Hamburg, Germany June 2-3, 2017 Although Gregory Porter was the marquee name at the sixth edition of Elbjazz, with a strong supporting cast including Joshua Redman, Jan Garbarek, Hildegard Lernt Fliegen and Youn Sun Nah, the real star of the show was the spectacular festival setting. The Blohm and Voss shipyard, where most of the concerts were held in four different venues, provided a dramatic industrial backdrop to the ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nguyen Le & Ngo Hong Quang: Ha Noi Duo

Read "Ha Noi Duo" reviewed by Ian Patterson

After exploring the pop culture of the 1960s/1970s in Songs of Freedom (ACT Music, 2011) and paying big-band tribute to Pink Floyd's iconic album on Celebrating The Dark Side of the Moon (ACT Music, 2014), French guitarist/producer Nguyên Lê returns to explore his Vietnamese ancestry on Hà Nôi Duo, with vocalist/multi- instrumentalist Ngô Hồng Quang and several of Le's trusted collaborators. It's Lê's sixth album to take Vietnamese music as a launching pad, and whilst the traditional elements are deeply ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Nguyen Le With Michael Gibbs & NDR Bigband: Celebrating The Dark Side Of The Moon

Read "Nguyen Le With Michael Gibbs & NDR Bigband: Celebrating The Dark Side Of The Moon" reviewed by Ian Patterson

It's a bold concept; take Pink Floyd's iconic Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest, 1973) and reinterpret it in a big band jazz setting. With upwards of forty million copies sold, every note, every nuance of Floyd's eighth album is so firmly entrenched in the minds of the band's legion devotees that to tamper with the work in any way is to leave oneself open to facile criticism. French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê, however, is nothing if not adventurous. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Quoc Trung / Nguyen Le / Dhafer Youssef / Thanh Lam / Rhani Krija / Kieu Anh: Hanoi, Vietnam, September, 1, 2012

Read "Quoc  Trung / Nguyen Le / Dhafer Youssef / Thanh Lam / Rhani Krija / Kieu Anh: Hanoi, Vietnam, September, 1, 2012" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Quốc Trung / Nguyên Lê / Dhafer Youssef / Thanh Lam / Rhani Krija / Kiều Anh Hanoi Opera HouseHanoi, VietnamSeptember 1, 2012The Hanoi Opera House celebrated its centenary in 2011, and for most of those first hundred years, Vietnamese traditional and European classical music reverberated within the walls of this elegant venue. However, as the Opera House enters its second century, there are signs--as in Vietnam itself--of gradual openness to more modern tides. This concert--billed as ...

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Nguyen Le: Songs of Freedom

Read "Songs of Freedom" reviewed by John Kelman

For over twenty years, Nguyên Lê has collaborated with a growing cadre of like-minded musicians--mostly Paris-based, where the guitarist of Vietnamese origins resides--building a body of work that is, in the truest sense of the word, “world music." From the Afro-centric band Ultramarine, and exploration of his own roots on the seminal Tales from Vietnam (ACT, 1996), to recent explorations of a nexus where programming and spontaneity meet on Homescape (ACT, 2006), Lê has carved out a unique space--often fusion-like ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Nguyen Le: Signature Edition 1

Read "Nguyen Le: Signature Edition 1" reviewed by Chris May

Nguyên Lê Signature Edition 1 ACT Music 2010

It might seem perverse to begin a review of a Nguyên Lê release with the observation that there is “too much fusion" on it, as, increasingly since the late 1990s, it is to the fusion mast that the guitarist has nailed his colors. But it is legitimate when considering the anthology Signature Edition 1, a double-disc set which starts with Lê's recordings ...

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Nguyen Le: Signature Edition 1

Read "Signature Edition 1" reviewed by John Kelman

Few musicians embody the word “fusion" more than Parisian-born guitarist Nguyên Lê. The son of Vietnamese immigrants, for the past 25 years he's been mining a combination of fusion by the more conventional definition--the infusion of rock energy into the jazz sphere--with fusion in a broader sense, the seamless integration of music from cultures around the world. More than many, Lê's music represents a cross-pollination that, at any given time, can combine his own electric guitar--often distortion-tinged and whammy bar-driven, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nguyen Le: Saiyuki

Read "Saiyuki" reviewed by John Kelman

He's not the first guitarist to explore the nexus of east and west--the legendary John McLaughlin is, at the very least, the first well-known six-stringer to do so--but, over the past couple decades, Nguyên Lê has been finding his own junctures. McLaughlin may have dug deep into the place where western harmony and Indian linearity meet, but Lê has set his sights even more expansively. Of Vietnamese descent, he's explored the music of his own heritage on Tales from Vietnam ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

E_L_B (Peter Erskine_Nguyen Le_Michel Benita): Dream Flight

Read "Dream Flight" reviewed by John Kelman

Active leaders all--and busy sidemen as well--drummer Peter Erskine, guitarist Nguyên Lê and bassist Michel Benita worked together in other contexts, prior to forming the collective trio E_L_B and releasing their self-titled 2000 ACT debut. Busy schedules prevented a follow-up for seven years; but following a successful tour where the trio became a quartet with the addition of impressive up-and-coming saxophonist Stéphane Guillaume, Dream Flight retains all that made E_L_B such a compelling listen, while demonstrating the growth one would ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Huong Thanh & Nguyen Le: Fragile Beauty

Read "Fragile Beauty" reviewed by John Kelman

Fragile Beauty isn't the first time that singer Huong Thanh and guitarist Nguyên Lê--both Vietnamese-born, Paris-based--have worked together, but it is the first time they've shared the bill. Thanh has released three other ACT albums on which Lê produced, arranged and performed, and she's appeared on two of Lê's own discs--Maghreb & Friends (ACT, 1998) and the particularly stunning Tales from Viêt-Nam (ACT, 1997). Every one of these albums leads inevitably to Fragile Beauty, an album largely consisting of thoughtfully ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nguyen Le: Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix

Read "Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix" reviewed by John Kelman

Originally released in 2002 but only seeing release in the United States five years later, Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix--alongside welcome 2007 reissues of Miracles (Universal, 1990) and Zanzibar (Universal, 1992) and the more recently recorded Homescape (ACT, 2006)--provides an increasingly balanced picture of guitarist Nguyên Lê. He may be considered by most to be a fusion guitarist, and his often overdriven, almost always processed tone may well fit within that definition, but there's always been more to Lê than electric ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Nguyen Le: Miracles & Zanzibar

Read "Nguyen Le: Miracles & Zanzibar" reviewed by John Kelman

It's all too rare that an artist appears, seemingly out of nowhere, fully matured and with a distinctively personal musical conception. While guitarist Nguyên Lê--Parisian born of Vietnamese parents--might argue that his true voice didn't emerge until he released the seminal Tales From Vietnam (ACT, 1996), the recent remastered reissue of his first two albums as a leader, Miracles and Zanzibar, suggests that Lê may be too hard on himself.

It's also not necessarily true that you are defined by ...


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