Silk and Sand Nguyên Lê

Cover Silk and Sand

Album info



Label: ACT Music

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Fusion

Artist: Nguyên Lê

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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FLAC 88.2 $ 14.90
  • 1Red City04:44
  • 2Silk and Sand06:00
  • 3Onety-One05:44
  • 4Moonstone06:26
  • 5The Waters of Ortiglia05:05
  • 6Baraka04:43
  • 7Thar Desert Dawn06:18
  • 8Tiger's Dance03:58
  • 9Becoming Water05:49
  • Total Runtime48:47

Info for Silk and Sand

After adventures in the most diverse formations and musical styles, World jazz icon Nguyên Lê returns to the trio format with which he once founded his international career. Together with the Canadian Chris Jennings, one of the most sought-after bassists on both sides of the Atlantic. And the Moroccan percussionist Rhani Krija, whose filigree, colourful grooves have already enriched the music of stars like Sting, Keziah Jones or Dominic Miller.

Since guitarist Nguyên Lê became the first exclusive ACT artist thirty years ago, he has established himself as a distinctive voice of his instrument. And as one of the most important representatives of jazz as world music without borders. The 64-year-old is one of the few whose technique, style and composition are unique and recognizable from the first note - a mastery in the true sense of the word. With "Silk and Sand" Lê now returns to the format of the trio with which he once began his career as a leader on "Million Waves".

Lê was self-taught as a musician. He started out on the drums, only switching to guitar later. His academic studies were in fine art and philosophy, and it was only thereafter that he embarked on a career in music. His artistry, therefore, defines itself as being not of any particular school – he has developed very much according to his own precepts – and he also has cultural horizons which extend far beyond music. Another important principle with Lê is that he has always seen himself as a builder of bridges between genres, styles and continents. "I am the fusion of cultures personified," he says. Lê is a world musician in the most authentic sense, in whom European – and especially French – musical culture has always found a meeting-place with his Southeast Asian roots, and he combines these not just with American traditions of jazz and rock, but also with music from other continents. From his first, strongly Afro-Caribbean band, Ultramarine, his journey has taken him through albums like "Zanzibar", "Tales from Vietnam", then involved his participation in the groundbreaking neo-flamenco project "Jazzpaña", his collaboration with the traditional Vietnamese singer Huong Thanh, the trio E_L_B with Peter Erskine, and his multiple-award-winning Jimi Hendrix project.

In the wake of a number of global fusion and rock ventures in recent years with international stars, "Silk and Sand" marks a return to the roots. Here we find a more refined and quieter kind of music-making, as the title implies, and also with more jazz in the mix. Lê also points out the connections with his earlier work: "On my album 'Three Trios' from 1996, I called two of the pieces "Silk" and "Sand": silk is precious and yet strong and it weaves the musicians' interplay together; the sand of the desert haunts the musician's dreams of other places. Twenty-six years later, these tracks are like pebbles on the path, and they are still there."

But Nguyên Lê would not be himself if he were to rely only on the ingredients of a classical jazz line-up for a new trio. He chose Moroccan percussionist Rhani Krjia for the rhythm section, a musical soul mate with whom Lê wanted to work since years and whose subtle, colorful grooves have already enriched the music of stars such as Sting, Keziah Jones or Dominic Miller. The strong musical foundation of trio is provided by Canadian Chris Jennings, a long-time collaborator with Lê and one of the most sought-after bassists on both sides of the Atlantic.

The title track, or indeed "Thar Desert Dawn", exemplifies the magic between the three musicians: these melodies are full of passion and reach out into improvisations. Lê lays them down over the North African rhythms of Rhani Krija and the massive but singing bass sound of Chris Jennings. The opening album track "Red City" is a wild, dynamic ride into the hustle and bustle of Asian or African cities, complete with urgent, clamorous voices. It gets rockier for "Onety-One" and especially on "Tiger's Dance", and then calmer for the hymn-like "Moonstone" and "The Waters of Ortigia", with a melody that unfolds slowly and deliciously. "Baraka" is strongly influenced by funk-infused African rhythms and has a teasing intro from Rhani Krija on the gimbri, and the final "Becoming Water" brings together the melodies and timbres of the Maghreb and Southeast Asia in an irresistible and touching way.

The core trio with Jennings and Rhani is joined for two of the more elegiac pieces by Sylvain Barou on bansuri and duduk flutes, and by Miron Rafajlovic, who plays trumpet and flugelhorn on "Moonstone". The return to Lê's beginnings as an inspiration for new ideas is made clear by another of the guests appearing on "Silk and Sand": Etienne Mbappé delivers a stupendous electric bass solo on "Baraka". The Cameroonian, who became widely known for his work with Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin Salif Keïta and others, was already a member of Lê's first band Ultramarine. Thus, in an irresistible and enjoyable way, Lê's "Silk and Sand" doesn’t just – as ever – build bridges between Asia, Africa and Europe, and between jazz, rock and world music….but also between past, present and future.

Nguyên Lê, guitars, synthesizer, vocals
Chris Jennings, acoustic bass
Rhani Krija, percussion, gumbri, vocals

Born in Paris from Vietnamese parents, he 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 (Jim Cuomo, Madagascar tour 84), Jazz standards & contemporary Jazz (bass player with Marc Ducret, guitar player with Eric Barret), Improvised Music (Yves Robert), Singers (Ray Charles),Contemporary Music (André Almuro, Tona Scherchen, Marius Constant, Mauricio Kagel), Ethnic Music: African & Caribbean with ULTRAMARINE, Algerian with Safy Boutella & Cheb Mami, Indian with Kakoli, Turkish with Kudsi Erguner, Vietnamese with his "Dan Bau" (traditional one-stringed instrument) teacher Truong Tang.

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 synthetizers, 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 sept. 89 he records ULTRAMARINE's 2nd album "DÉ" &, 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 Bob BROOKMEYER, with Dieter Ilg (b) & Danny Gottlieb (d). With these two musicians he set his first trio, & recorded "MILLION WAVES" in dec. 94. About this CD, Télérama writes : "This trio brings him to some musical spaces which he had not even imagined, & which are pure poetry". In the meantime, he's playing in trio with Michel Benita(b) & Peter Erskine, recording on Michel Portal's new album with Ralph TOWNER (g), & working with Ornette COLEMAN on one of his contemporary music pieces, "Freedom Statue". In June 95 he's invited by WDR BigBand in "Azure Moon", with the YELLOWJACKETS & Vince Mendoza. In July 95, in Stuttgart Festival, he's one of the guest guitar players to celebrate the "Universe of Jimi Hendrix", besides Trilok Gurtu, Terry BOZZIO, Cassandra WILSON, Jack BRUCE, Vernon REID, David TORN, Victor BAILEY, Pharoah SANDERS... Recently he has been playing with John McLaughlin, Michel Petrucianni, Markus Stockhausen, Enrico Rava, Ray Anderson, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Dave Douglas, Wolfgang Pushnig, Uri Caine, Tigran Hamasyan, Herbie Hancock...

In April 96, Nguyên Lê creates "Tales from Viêt-Nam", a project on Vietnamese music, with a 8-piece band blending jazz & traditional musicians. With stage director P. J. San Bartolomé, he starts " Of the Moon & the Wind ", a complete show where traditional & contemporary vietnamese dancers are integrated to the "Tales from Viêt-Nam" orchestra. The CD has received a great welcoming from international critics : Diapason d'Or, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Choc of Year 1996 Jazzman, 2nd best CD 96 for JAZZTHING (Germany), Best CD 96 on radio TRS 2 (CH), "a minor masterpiece" JAZZTIMES (USA).

On 4/97 Nguyên Lê releases his 5th CD, " 3 Trios", with Marc Johnson/ Peter Erskine, Dieter Ilg/ Danny Gottlieb & Renaud Garçia Fons/ Mino Cinelu. JAZZIZ Magazine USA says : « At times, jazz guitar can sound staid - but not in the case of N. Lê. He’s forever breaking boundaries for our benefit ». He has recorded 2 Cds with Paolo Fresu’s quartet : « Angel » (2/98) & « Metamorfosi » (4/99). On 5/98, 6th N. Lê record : « Maghreb & Friends », an exploration of Maghreb musical traditions & a deep collaboration with Algerian musicians. « Far from a false world music, N. Lê simply touches, with force & intensity, to universality » F. Medioni. N. Lê produced the 1rst CD of Huong Thanh, « Moon & Wind », entirely done in his home studio. He also has been nominated for the « Victoires de la Musique 1999 » award. His last CD, « BAKIDA », based on his regular trio with Renaud Garçia Fons (b) & Tino di Geraldo (perc, dr) plus guests from all over the world like Kudsi Erguner, Chris Potter, Carlos Benavent... This CD has been voted "best jazz album of the year" by "CD Compact" (Spain). ELB, a new trio CD has just been recorded in Rainbow studios, Oslo, with Peter Erskine & Michel Benita. He's touring with Terri Lyne Carrington's band, with Geri Allen, Matt Garrison & Gary Thomas & plays with Maria Schneider.

Sept 2002 : 2nd CD of Huong Thanh « Dragonfly ». In june 2002 he's invited by the Metropole Orchestra (NL) to play his music arranged by Vince Mendoza. « Purple », an album celebrating Jimi Hendrix is released in sept 2002. In sept 2002 it's n° 1 on the charts of UK magazine "Jazzwise". Today it's N. Lê's most successful album, with 20 500 CD sales & non stop touring all over the world. "Mangustao", Huong Thanh's 3rd album, released in jan. 2004, is awarded as "Choc de la Musique" by french magazine "Le Monde de la Musique". In March 2005 release of "Walking on the Tiger's Tail", new album with his great friends Art Lande, Paul McCandless & Jamey Haddad “A universe where the alliance between acoustic and electric, improvisation and writing, inner delicacy and virtuosic expressivity reach the ideal balance.”(Le Monde).

Several projects were built in 2006 : the score writing of "Le Sheitan", a movie by Kim Chapiron with Vincent Cassel, & « Homescape », a very electronic, improvised & mystical recording in duo with Paolo Fresu & Dhafer Youssef, all done at home, #1 in « Jazzwise » april 2006 charts; the score for the Vietnamese movie "Saigon Eclipse" by Othello Khanh; the recording of "Mozart" last Uri Caine's album; a 13-gig tour in USA with "Tiger's Tail" quartet, thanks to a CMA/FACE grant; two "classical" compositions commissioned by the Ahn Trio & the Laguna Beach Fest in LA. Nguyên Lê was unanimously awarded as the guitar "Django d'Or" 2006.

In 2007, after tours in US & China, he releases "Fragile Beauty", the 4th album with Huong Thanh «Simply an album that captures the heart from the first note and leaves it hungering for more as the last one fades» (All That Jazz). In 2008 he records "The Othello Syndrome" for Uri Caine, "Blauklang" for Vince Mendoza's & also « Dream Flight » a new ELB album, with guest Stéphane Guillaume on sax. A new album comes out in oct 2009: SAIYUKI, an asian trio with Mieko Miyazaki (koto) & Prabhu Edouard (tablas) & special guest Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute). He’s the mixing engineer & co-producer of Dhafer’s Youssef «Abu Nawas Rhapsody», Céline Bonacina’s «Way of Life» & Mario Canonge «Mitan». «Signature Edition», a double-CD album showing 20 years of music creation has been released by ACT in march 2010. AllAboutJazz will say: «the ample evidence of an artist whose voice has been his own from the very beginning». He’s guest soloist on Erkki Sven Tüür’s 5th symphony with Bremen Philarmonic. For the 2nd time Nguyên Lê is the recipient of the CMA/FACE grant which helps the «Saiyuki inviting Rudresh Mahanthappa» project to tour in US in the fall 2010. In 2011 he is awarded by the rank of «Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts & des Lettres» by French Cultural minister & receives the Django Reinhardt prize by French Academie du Jazz. «Ting Ning», excerpt from «Tales from Viet-Nam» (1996) is selected between only 4 european artists in the 6-CD compendium «Jazz: the Simthsonian Anthology».

The new album «Songs of Freedom», released in april 2011, is an exotic & eccentric reading of Pop hits from the 70’s with Illya Amar, Linley Marthe, St. Galland & guests Youn Sun Nah, David Linx, Dhafer Youssef, a.o. It has received a fantastic welcoming from international press («Record of the Year» & cover story in Jazzmagazine/Jazzman) & was on top jazz charts of Itunes & Amazon. N. Lê is part of «Nights on Earth», Vince Mendoza’s last album. He took part of the 1rst International Jazz Day celebration at Unesco with Herbie Hancock.

Booklet for Silk and Sand

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