Nguyên Lè is a Vietnamese musician who has just released his eighteenth album titled Hà Nội Duo either as a leader or co-leader. Here he has collaborated with Ngô Hồng Quang and the results are quite nice. He has previously released five discs related to Vietnamese music and I suppose you can include this one in that category.
This is a complex album and one that is not easy to pigeonhole. Elements of Asian folk and jazz are certainly there but there are other flavours present like the blues and African music.
The disc begins with the jazzy "Cloud Chamber" and its more ethereal beginning of acoustic guitar and flugelhorn. Some nice sustain on the guitar notes and a languid trumpet solo leads into electric lead guitar with a slow building intensity. For me the only drawback is the throat singing, a style I have never been a fan of. Next is "Five Senses" featuring some amazing koto (an acoustic string instrument) from Mieko Miyazaki. The tablas give this one a certain Asian flair. "Like Mountain Birds" has some nice ethereal moments featuring the lute and harp. The improvised sustained electric guitars on "Monkey Queen" is another fine moment. Lê's Asian tones and unique string bending create a relaxed soundscape.
Although I would have preferred Hà Nội Duo to be completely instrumental, there is some fine music here with plenty of complexity and interesting motifs to satisfy those interested in Asian inspired jazz and folk music.
1. Cloud Chamber (5:40)
2. Five Senses (4:53)
3. Like Mountain Birds (6:52)
4. A Night With You, Gone (6:38)
5. The Graceful Seal (7:00)
6. Heaven's Gourd (5:58)
7. Chiec Khăn Piêu (6:24)
8. Monkey Queen (5:40)
9. Beggar's Love Song (5:45)
10. Silently Grows The Rice (3:36)
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