Even in the adventurous territory of jazz, this French-Vietnamese musician stands out as a unique explorer of sounds. His new CD will surprise even those who believe themselves to be, by now, familiar with the diversity of his musical output. The first unusual fact: Most of the tracks were recorded in Lê’s living room (pardon me, his salon), and also completed à la maison using his computer. The second unusual fact: This domestic method of producing music need not conjure up the cosy, well worn realm of familial comfort, in fact Nguyên Lê leads the listener into a space that is full to the brim with warped sounds and acoustical metamorphoses.
Nguyên Lê takes the title of his latest album from one of his favourite songs of freedom: Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” sits alongside hits from Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton and the Beatles, whose “Eleanor Rigby” and “Come Together” frame the album - credit where credit’s due, these artists wrote some of the finest songs in recent memory. But Lê takes the liberty to unearth these icons of pop and rock history from their dust (or gold) covered depths and brings them to the present day and to the global village, with the help of his own formidable musical prowess as well as many exceptional guests from all over the world who provide support in his band.
Guitarist Nguyen Le has become the Parisian equivalent of Bill Frisell: a "changes player" who is not averse to kicking on nasty effects pedals or playing simply and folksy when the tune merits. But on this cooperative outing with drummer Peter Erskine and bassist Michel Benita, Le throws his own signature into the mix with the various odd bends and nontempered slurs he pulls off on the guitar, alluding to his Vietnamese heritage on pieces like "Sao Sen," "Zigzag" and "Free at Last" with a very personal touch on the fretboard.