Nguyen Le will coordinate with Vietnam’s best singers from My Linh to Tung Duong, Anh Em Band and Vietnamese zither artist Van Anh in the concert featuring international music which blends jazz and traditional Vietnamese music.
This is the second time you came back to Vietnam this year. How do you feel playing music in your homeland?
Actually I used to play jazz with traditional Vietnamese music before. My first comeback was 7 years ago, when I brought home my own band. I am really proud to be a Vietnamese and able to work with Vietnamese musicians and artists now. I feel a more direct connection.
You are a known guitarist and you have been pursuing jazz and international music. What made you return to traditional Vietnamese music?
In 1989 when I produced my first album, I asked myself what my identity is. When you bring your product to the public, you have to let them know what is special about you and your identity.
If you make music that sounds like someone else’s, there is no identity in there. At first, I chose jazz as a way to express my emotions.
However, to create and develop my identity, I came back to our music because I am a Vietnamese. Our country’s traditional music allows me to see myself clearer and find my origin.
Jazz is no longer the music for African Americans, there has been French jazz, Northern European jazz, and Nguyen Le has let the world know of the “Nguyen Le” jazz that fuses with Vietnamese traditional music. Is developing a “Vietnamese jazz” part of your plan from now on?
That is what I have been doing for a long time now. As I said, the center of the world’s music scene is America and Europe. But nowadays every nation and culture has the opportunity to express its musical identity; our problem is how to play our Vietnamese music in a way that the world can listen to and understand it.
My idea to blend traditional music and jazz compositions is to make it easier for foreigners to understand our beautiful melodies.
I find it interesting when Vietnamese themselves tend to be more interested in their own music after listening to these fusion works.
Your Tuesday show in Ho Chi Minh will feature top singer My Linh as a first time coordinator. What will she bring to the show besides names like Tung Duong or Van Anh who have worked with you before?
She will sing songs that Van Anh used to perform like “Ly ngua o”, “Qua cau gio bay” or her signature song “Tren dinh Phu Van”. She has shown great energy in performing “Ly ngua o”, so has Tung Duong. However, each of them has their unique identity.
Born to Vietnamese parents in France in 1959, Nguyen Le is a versatile artist who can play various instruments and different kinds of music such as rock and funk.
Le however is best known as an outstanding jazz player who “marries” classical American music with traditional music of other cultures such as Vietnam.
Le’s second album “Dé” with his band Ultramarine was chosen as thebest world music CD of 1989 by the French Liberation newspaper.
His “Tales from Vietnam” album released in 1996, dubbed a “masterpiece” by the American JazzTimes magazine, won numerous international awards the same year.
“Que nha” will be held at 8pm on December 27 at The Ho Chi Minh Opera House, 7 Cong Truong Lam Son, District 1, HCMC and tickets cost from VND 600,000 to VND 2.5 million for VIP seats.