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Billy Bang: Vietnam: The Aftermath

Jim Santella By

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The CD itself is painted olive drab. The cover features other shades of green in faded photographs. The music moves evenly with a peaceful country air. Dirges, dances, ceremonial rites, a little dramatic counterpoint, and swinging anthems take on surreal qualities through Billy Bang's compositions.

It's been a long time, but those memories linger. We were there to do a job, but no one could avoid immersion in the culture that ran so very different from our own. We felt at home, right away, with many aspects of the foreign landscape. After all, it was the same moon in the sky. The people seemed okay; but we trusted no one. Our search for commonality had to remain satisfied with the similarities of Nature, music, family values and our jobs. Mechanics, moms, butterflies and songs remain quite similar around the world, as long as you're not looking for the differences. We saw the fragile people who were as afraid of war as we were. We saw the determined people who made their daily living in spite of incredible obstacles. We saw a society that lived for today and hoped for a brighter tomorrow. And we remember everything, after all these years.

After tucking them away for a long time, violinist Billy Bang decided to put these recollections to music. With a close-knit band of like-minded artists, he interprets these old memories. There's the placid landscape and the natural flavor from traditional Vietnamese country music. There's a somber prayer for those who never returned. One swinging impression recalls the rare moment of entertainment some were able to enjoy at dance clubs, tucked far away from the front. That same Western spirit blared daily from our radios and reel-to-reel tape players. Another piece brings us the dramatic tension that we lived with every day. Bang and five other members of the ensemble are veterans. They've turned these memories into a positive affair. Culture, society, and a deeper meaning color the session thoroughly, but they're couched in lively, straight-ahead jazz terms.


Track Listing: Yo! Ho-Chi-Minh is in the House; Moments for the KIAMIA; Tunnel Rat (Flashlight and a .45); TET Offensive; Bien Hoa Blues; Mystery of the Mekong; Fire in the Hole; Saigon Phunk.

Personnel: Billy Bang- violin; Ted Daniel- trumpet; Frank Lowe- tenor saxophone; Sonny Fortune- flute; John Hicks- piano; Curtis Lundy- bass; Ron Brown- percussion; Michael Carvin- drums; Butch Morris- conductor on "TET Offensive".

Title: Vietnam: The Aftermath | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Justin Time Records


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