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NGUYÊN LÊ

Jazz Rock/Fusion • France


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Nguyên Lê biography

Born in Paris from Vietnamese parents, Nguyên Lê began to play drums at the age of 15, then took up guitar & electric bass. After graduating in Visual Arts, he majored in Philosophy, writing a thesis on Exoticism. Then he devoted to music, creating ULTRAMARINE (1983), a multi-ethnic band whose CD DÉ has been considered 1989's best World Music album ( Philippe Conrath, Libération).

Nguyên LE is a self-taught musician, with a wide scope of interests: Rock & Funk, Jazz standards & contemporary Jazz, Improvised Music, Singers (Ray Charles),Contemporary Music , Ethnic Music: African & Caribbean, Algerian ,Indian, Turkish , Vietnamese.

In sept. 87 he was chosen by director Antoine Hervé to play with the O. N. J. (French National Jazz Orchestra). Within this big band, he played with such musicians as Johnny Griffin, Louis Sclavis, Didier Lockwood, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Randy Brecker, Toots Thielemans, Courtney Pine, Steve Lacy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gil Evans, Quincy Jones. Nguyên LE' s work also deals with programming synthesizers, effects & computers as well as writing orchestral pieces : PROCESSOR composed, arranged & recorded on CD O.N.J. 87 & LUNIK II co-arranged with Dominique Borker & performed by the O.N.J. 1989.

In may 90, his first album as a leader : MIRACLES recorded in the U.S.A. with Art LANDE, Marc JOHNSON & Peter ERSKINE. At the same time he works with such musicians as Michel Portal, Miroslav Vitous, Trilok Gurtu, J. F. Jenny Clarke, Aldo Romano, Daniel Humair, Dewey Redman, Andy Emler, Jon Christensen, Nana Vasconcelos, Glenn Ferris, Christof Lauer, Paolo Fresu, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor ...

In may 92, after a month tour with Paul McCANDLESS on winds, Art Lande (p), Dean Johnson (b) & Joël Allouche (d), he records his 2nd album ZANZIBAR, which gets the « ffff » award by Télérama. In Jan. 93 he records INIT, a trio with André Ceccarelli, François Moutin & guest Bob Berg, while setting up a new band on the music of Jimi Hendrix, w/ Corin Curschellas (voc), Steve Argüelles (d), Richard Bona (b). Since Jan. 93 he's been a frequent guest soloist of Köln's WDR Big band, especially with composer/director Vince MENDOZA. Nguyên Lê plays on three of his projects: Jazzpaña, Sketches w/ Dave LIEBMAN, Charlie MARIANO, Peter Erskine, & Downtown, w/ Russell Ferrante. In April 94 he?s the guest soloist of The New Yorker, a suite by...
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NGUYÊN LÊ discography


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NGUYÊN LÊ top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Miracles
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Zanzibar
1992
3.05 | 2 ratings
Million Waves (as Nguyên Lê Trio)
1995
5.00 | 1 ratings
Tales from Viêt-nam
1996
3.00 | 1 ratings
Maghreb & Friends
1998
4.00 | 2 ratings
Bakida
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
Purple (Celebrating Jimi Hendrix)
2002
5.00 | 1 ratings
Walking on the Tiger's Tail
2005
3.00 | 1 ratings
HOMESCAPE
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
Saiyuki
2009
4.00 | 2 ratings
Songs of Freedom
2011

NGUYÊN LÊ Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

NGUYÊN LÊ Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

NGUYÊN LÊ Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Signature Edition 1
2010

NGUYÊN LÊ Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

NGUYÊN LÊ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Million Waves (as Nguyên Lê Trio) by NGUYÊN LÊ album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Million Waves (as Nguyên Lê Trio)
Nguyên Lê Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Very enjoying fusion album by semi acoustic power trio. Nguyen Le is well known by his guitar acrobatics, influenced by Hendrix and SE Asian folklore both. This one of early album is one I really like - not a world fusion of Nguyen later works, but real electric guitar-led jazz fusion, influenced by Hendrix, but enough personal not to be a clone.

There are two covers on this album - Hendrix's classics " Little Wing" and James Brown's classics " I Feel Good". Other compositions are original. Both covers sound very competent, but not too far from originals (ok, "I Feel Good" is less funky and more Hendrix-like).

But main interest is original compositions. Nguyen's guitar, even openly Hendrix-influenced, sound softer, more soulful, and more jazzy. Compositions sound well rounded and well balanced, with many (jazzy) emotional accents. Playing quite popular kind of fusion, Nguyen still is able to find his own sound. Album's sound mix is minimalist acoustic, what is real plus.

In all - really very enjoying album. Yes, you will hardly find there innovations or experimentations, but for classic, even vintage jazz fusion album, this work sounds surprisingly fresh and attractive. Main album's problem is luck of originality, but you will find it in later Nguyen albums (to be honest with different success).

My rating is 3+.

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 Signature Edition 1 by NGUYÊN LÊ album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Signature Edition 1
Nguyên Lê Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
3 stars First ever French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le compilation (in 2 x CD form). Even if I (as many) usually don't like compilations, this one attracted my attention. The main reason Le, being an original and very professional musician, isn't so wide known, and his albums are rare outside of France.

I own few of his studio works, and I really like them. So - such a compilation is a great possibility to listen his works retrospective (he released 10 studio albums till now). Again, whenever I know his music only fragmentally, it's impossible for me to evaluate how representative this compilation is.

Double CD with 24 songs - big amount of music. It is for good and for bad. There is enough space for many compositions from different albums. But - bigger part of works there is kind of world (Oriental) fusion, and listening to this long release in moments I felt a bit bored. Unhappily, not every composition is such different , and after few similar ones in line I caught myself I feel like listening one long soundtrack to film about Viet Nam.

To be honest - not the all music is Oriental fusion. There are enough jazz and jazz-rock moments on this album as well. Nguyen guitar is influenced by Hendrix and US fusion guitarists, he is often minimalist, but adding big portion of SE Asian tunes and techniques he always sound original.

Possibly most interesting compositions are with Oriental vocal and heavy Vietnamese folk influences. More traditional fusion and guitar jazz numbers sound competent, but not very original.

Still his specialty is Oriental fusion. For those searching more classical jazz rock I would recommend Nguyen studio album "Purple" (Tribute to Hendrix). Nice work, but I believe that one CD format would be more focused and concentrated.

My rating is 3+.

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 Purple (Celebrating Jimi Hendrix) by NGUYÊN LÊ album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Purple (Celebrating Jimi Hendrix)
Nguyên Lê Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Nguyen Le most commercially successful album till now. Jimmy Hendrix is one of the most popular artist in the world, and his musical legacy was re-covered hundred times. There are better covers and terrible covers, but generally no one is interested to hear few more Hendrix covers, isn't it?

With my hate to copy-cats and imitators, this album is rare one covers album I not only enjoy a lot, but would like to recommend it to other listeners!

French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguen Le is known by his original mix of European and Oriental fusion. And he demonstrates his abilities on "Purple" album in full. Well-known Hendrix compositions (mostly - psychedelic blues-rock) are transferred to different field there. Excellent guitarist, using minimalistic sound and help of skilled African, Asian and Balkan musicians, reworks Hendrix legacy without destroying it.

As a result, you have full collection of songs you will recognize easily, but will be surprised how different they could be played! One of most accessible Nguyen Le album contains multicultural (and multi linguistic) mix of Oriental blues, World fusion and jazz, all based on classical Hendrix repertoire. Interesting, that having three different vocalists, all album's vocal is female (Hendrix songs!).

It's a bit pity that this not very experimental but extremely interesting and pleasant album isn't known enough. Really recommended!

My rating is 4+!

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 Saiyuki by NGUYÊN LÊ album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Saiyuki
Nguyên Lê Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Newest NGUYÊN LÊ album is based on Chinese novel written in the XVI th century by Wu Cheng'en. SAIYUKI is the Japanese name for the « Journey to the West ». So, as you can expect, there is world fusion, but quite unusual. Two supporting musicians both are virtuosos of their very specific instruments (national Japanese and South-Eastern Asia percussions and strings, plus vocals).

Very first song is traditional very acoustic Japanese song, with Nguen electric guitar added. Second one is a bit more folk-jazzy. Combination of authentic SE Asian folk music, very acoustic and melodic, but played in more extra-high technique manner, with some East- West sounding electric guitar, built very strange, beautiful and magic sounds there.

Nguen guitar has unique sound, kind of melted Hendrix energy and eastern melodic scheme."Mayur" is more world-rock fusion, with long electric guitar line."Sangam", next song, continues with more modern sound, with faster tempo and more usual fusion structure and sound. Eastern influences are all the time somewhere very near, but not main accent there.

"Azur" is melancholic ballade with almost Western melodies and musical structure, but played with exotic Eastern instruments. Imagine Al Di Meola work with New Sinfonia, but if all musicians will be played with Eastern musical instruments.

"Hen Ho" is return back to traditional Asian folk, filled with electric guitar sound."Nanae Goromo " is another guitar based ballade with Mieko Miyazaki lyrical singing. "Ila", the last album's song, is slow string melody, with almost blues structure ( Asian blues?).

All the album is excellent piece of acoustic, beautiful, exotic and magical music, full of tasteful improvisations and perfectly played. Really, very unusual and pleasant work, very recommended!

For sure 4,5!

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