Nguyên Lê’s "Overseas" – the great guitarist brings jazz, traditional Vietnamese music and hip-hop to the music for “Cirque-Nouveau”.
"Overseas" stems from an interdisciplinary performance project combining dance, acrobatics and music. “Cirque-Nouveau”, conceived and directed by Tuan Le, whose other credits include work as lead choreographer for Cirque du Soleil, is an artistic reflection on the current zeitgeist of Vietnam, a country in which traditional lifestyles become disoriented through rapid modernisation, especially in the big cities. Nguyên Lê has written the music for it, a mix of jazz, traditional Vietnamese music and hip-hop; "Overseas", from ACT is the soundtrack for this compelling vision of change and flux.
It is not just guitarist Nguyên Lê’s peerless command of technique that makes him a truly unique musician. Throughout his life he has also had the role of a go-between combining very different cultures. "I was born in France as the son of Vietnamese parents,” says Lê. “As an artist, I began to build my own identity with the culture of my parents and the country I lived in. And I am far from alone in this. Many other people have this experience too, so it is something which can be shared all over the world, and not just by Vietnamese people.” And a distinctive feature of all his creative work, whether in the company of illustrious American colleagues, or in the E_L_B trio with Peter Erskine and Michel Benita, or on albums with the fine Vietnamese singer Huong Thanh, or indeed in numerous projects of his own, is that he has engaged with the theme of reconnection with the culture of his homeland.
Jazz has been the medium for him to combine the Vietnamese musical tradition with a wide variety styles, from flamenco to the music of the Middle East and beyond. And his interpretations of Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and above all his groundbreaking Jimi Hendrix project are testimony to this, as they deal with the outstanding artists who emerged in the protest movement against the Vietnam War. 22 years after his programmatic album "Tales from Viet-Nam", "Overseas" represents a new chapter of his search for the Vietnamese soul through the prism of jazz, and one which is unprecedented both in its diversity and in its use of multimedia.
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