Nguyên Lê is a maverick, a hyper-fluent guitarist with a penchant for mixing up genres. Born in Paris of Vietnamese descent, he’s regarded as a jazz musician, though his most celebrated albums pay tribute to 60s rock gods like Hendrix and Floyd. Here he teams up with a young traditionalist, Ngô Hong Quang, on fiddle and lute to portray “the soul of Vietnam” and its quickening evolution. There are jaunty folkish tunes, temple bells and ethereal melodies with titles like Heaven’s Ground, but nothing arrives without surprises. One moment you are among mountain clouds, then Lê unleashes a storm of widdly-diddly electric axe. Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu adds elegant Milesesque licks to a remarkable fusion of ancient and modern.
Joachim Raff (1822–1882) was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the foremost symphonists of his age, but in his extensive oeuvre of 329 compositions over half of them are for the piano. This selection of 21 works offers a cross section of the best of this large catalogue for the instrument, chosen by acclaimed Raff interpreter Tra Nguyen to showcase the varied aspects of his art. Raff’s melodic generosity, his piquant harmonic sensibility and ravishing textures are all on display in these pieces which span the whole of his career, from the exuberant Douze Romances to the majestic Grande Sonate.
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.