Sunday, 4 October 2009

Huong Thanh & Nguyên Lê "Fragile Beauty"

Huong Thanh & Nguyên Lê

(Act, 2007)

Personnel :
Huong Thanh - vocals
Nguyên Lê - electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizers & computer
Myeko Miyazaki - koto
Hao Nhien Pham - monocorde (dan bau), 16-strings zither (dan tranh),
sao & meo bamboo flutes
Nguyên Van-Hong - backing vocals
Paolo Fresu - trumpet & flugelhorn
Stéphane Guillaume - flutes & soprano sax
Renaud Garcia-Fons - pizz & arco acoustic 5-string bass
Etienne Mbappe - fretless bass
Alex Tran - percussions (cajon, udu, congas, bendir, cymbals, shakers...)
Francis Lassus - percussion (radiator, pandeiro, cymbals, brushes)
Illya Amar - bamboo balafon (trung)
Dominique Borker - piano

Tracklisting :
01 Drifting on the Water [Au Fil de l'Eau, Au Gré du Vent]
02 Weaving & Awaiting [Con Nhen Giang Mung]
03 Faithfulness [Fidélité]
04 Plantation Song [Chant des Plantations]
05 The Five Calls of the Night [Les Cinq Veilles de La Nuit]
06 Fragile Beauty [Charme Fragile]
07 Rowing the Sampan [Ho Khoan Nghê Tinh]
08 The Pavilion of Crystallized Azure Le Pavillon de l'Azur Cristallisé]
09 At Dusk, from the West Balcony [Crépuscule au Balcon du l'Ouest]
10 Go Cong Blues [Ho Mai Go Cong]
11 The Swallows' Bridge [Le Pont des Hirondelles]
12 Tales of the Mountain [Les Contes de La Montagne]

Review :
For sheer melodic and timbral beauty, there are few languages that can match Vietnamese -- like most tonal languages, it sounds like it's being sung even when it's being spoken, and the effect is like a series of delicate, tuned gongs being struck quickly in sequence. The language's inherent lyricism brings an added layer of complexity and beauty to the traditional and dramatic Vietnamese song repertoire, and on this album vocalist Huong Thanh adds yet another layer to those song traditions by teaming up with guitarist, producer, and arranger Nguyên Lê. Lê's arrangements are varied in tone and texture, but almost all are both strange and wonderful, and his guitar solos are exquisite. On "Weaving & Awaiting" there's a gorgeous moment at the end of his solo when Thanh's vocals come back in, but multi-tracked in close harmony; "Plantation Song" flows gently in a jazzy style; "The Swallows' Bridge" features lovely counterpoint between a Japanese koto and a fretless electric bass, over which dances a cool and complex horn chart. Perhaps the album's most beautiful track is the final one, "Tales of the Mountain," on which funky beats bump up against a gentle arrangement, tastefully restrained guitar, and Thanh's otherworldly voice. It's one of the most softly impressive songs on an album that is full of both sweet melodic beauty and subtly dense complexity. Very highly recommended.
by Rick Anderson [AMG]

Not available on the blog free edition.

By Rob


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this one!

This is not my cup of tea usually, and quite far from an organ+guitar+drum soul jazz trio outing to put it mildly :-) but this is great music nevertheless!

'Tales of the mountain' is the highlight here for me.

PS. I wonder what the lyrics are about? I admit that my vietnames is non-existent.

/Jazz Organ Fan

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