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N G U Y Ê N    L Ê

Guitars & Bass, Sound Magic,

Composition, Arrangements & Producing






Few musicians embody the word "fusion" more than Parisian-born guitarist Nguyên Lê.

For the past 25 years he's been mining a combination of fusion by the more conventional definition

—the infusion of rock energy into the jazz sphere—with fusion in a broader sense,

the seamless integration of music from cultures around the world. (All About Jazz)


       Nguyên Lê is a masterful, inventive player who has cultivated a wholly unique

voice on the intsrument,  he ranks right up there with Frisell, John Scofield,

    Mike Stern & Allan Holdsworth in the post Hendrix world of jazz guitar (Jazztimes)



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, John Scofield, Joe Lovano...


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 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 takes part of the 1rst International Jazz Day celebration at Unesco with Herbie Hancock. In 2013 he produces the album «Doc Dao» for & with Hanoian singer Tung Duong, with which he receives 3 awards in Vietnam : «Best Song of the Year», «Man of the year» & «Best Show of the Year». In 2014 he releases «Celebrating the Dark Side of the Moon», a very personal version of the famous Pink Floyd’s album, with the NDR Bigband, Youn Sun Nah, Gary Husband & Michael Gibbs’ orchestrations.




SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

French BioBio_F.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0

PROGRAMME   JUNGLE


ESIMALA

WAIT

88/89

AFRICAN DREAM

CHANSONGS

STRONG LOVE AFFAIR

MELI MELI

MEJNOUN

MEGAOCTET

HEADGAMES

ANYWAY

CINEMAS

TG EVIL ORCHESTRA

ARGILLA

FIGURES

DOS SOLES

ANGEL

METAMORFOSI

KIND OF PORGY & BESS

LE FRESIADI (live in Berchidda)

BRUTTO GUSTO

ZAPPING

WAY OF LIFE

INIT

URBAN FOLKTALES

3 + 3

ROCK MY BOAT

SILENT WAYS

VAGABOND

NEW CIRCLE

GOYONE BLUES

MALAK

IFRIKYIA

CHABIBA

DAWI

JDID

FESTIVAL GNAOUA

ISLAM BLUES

HARBOR

CHANCE

PLAYS MOZART

THE OTHELLO SYNDROME

SKETCHES

BLAUKLANG

NIGHTS ON EARTH

E_L_B

DREAM FLIGHT

MOON & WIND

DRAGONFLY

MANGUSTAO

FRAGILE BEAUTY

DOC DAO

SHEITAN

The ACT Jubilee Concert   

MIRACLES

ZANZIBAR

MILLION WAVES

TALES FROM VIÊT-NAM

3 TRIOS

MAGHREB & FRIENDS

BAKIDA

PURPLE Celebrating Jimi Hendrix

WALKING ON THE TIGER'S TAIL

HOMESCAPE

SAIYUKI

SIGNATURE EDITION

SONGS OF FREEDOM

CELEBRATING the Dark Side of the Moon

Ultramarine

Ultramarine

Ultramarine

ILLOUZ

Orchestre National de Jazz

Orchestre National de Jazz

Claude Nougaro

Ray Charles

Cheb Mami

Safy Boutella

Andy Emler

Andy Emler

Michel Portal

Michel Portal

Thomas Gustafson

Ornella Vanoni

Denis Levaillant

Dos Soles

Paolo Fresu

Paolo Fresu

Paolo Fresu

Paolo Fresu

Eric Vloeimans

Furio di Castri

Céline Bonacina

Ceccarelli, Lê & Moutin

Jazz Bigband Graz

Romano Sclavis Texier

David Linx

Caecilie Norby

Ulf Wakenius

Geir Lysne

Daniel Goyone

Dhafer Youssef

Karim Ziad

Karim Ziad

Karim Ziad

Karim Ziad

Essaouira live 2003

Kudsi Erguner

Joel Harrison

Aaron Germain

Uri Caine ensemble

Uri Caine

Vince Mendoza

Vince Mendoza

Vince Mendoza

Erskine, Lê, Benita

Erskine, Lê, Benita

Huong Thanh

Huong Thanh

Huong Thanh

Huong Thanh & Nguyên Lê

Tung Duong & Nguyên Lê

Original Movie Soundtrack

The ACT Family Band

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Bloomdido BL 001
(1989) Musidisc (2005) Universal 983 883-0
(1991) Musidisc (2005) Universal 983 883-1
(1988) Flat & Sharp 192422 
(1987) Label Bleu 6511
(1989) Label Bleu 6521
(1993) Phonogram 5211172
(1996) Qwest/WB 9362 46107-2
(1998) Totem/Virgin 724384 548421
(1991) Indigo 2501
(1990) Label Bleu 6533
(1992) Label Bleu 6553
(1993) Label Bleu 6544
(1995) Label Bleu 6574
(1997) Dragon DRCD 330
(1997) East West CA851
(1991) CMG #11
(2007) 06 ICI-Label
(1998) BMG 743215 58642
(1999) BMG 74321 652 0022
(2002) BMG 74321 951952
(2008) Time in Jazz 008
(2002) Challenge Records CHR 70102
(2008) Promo Music PM CD 014
(2010) ACT 9498-2
(1993) Polygram 518 265-2
(2012) ACT 9528-28
(2012) Label Bleu LBLC 6709
(2011) Naive NJ621311
(2013) ACT 9725-2
(2013) ACT 9523-2
(2013) ACT 9561-2
(2014) Hevhetia HV0078-2-331
(1999) Enja ENJ-9367-2
(2001) ACT 9282-2
(2004) Art Nouveau Nomade CDLS 01
(2007) Intuition/Birdjam Int 3455-2
(2013) IDOL/JMS
(2003) NTCD 353
(2001) ACT 9287-2
(2007) HighNote HCD 7167
(2013) Origin records 82652
(2006) Winter & Winter LC 910 130-2
(2008) Winter & Winter LC 910 135-2
(1994) WDR / ACT 892 152
(2008) ACT 9465-2
(2011) Horizontaljazz
(2001) ACT 9289-2
(2008) ACT 9467-2
(1999) ACT 9269-2
(2001) ACT 9293-2
(2004) ACT 9423-2
(2007) ACT 9451-2
(2013) Dihavina
(2006) 120 Films/La Chauve Souris 3112972
(2011) ACT 6015-2
(1989) Musidisc (2005) Universal 983 881-9
(1992) Musidisc (2005) Universal 983 882-0
(1995) ACT 9221-2
(1996) ACT 9225-2
(1997) ACT 9245-2
(1998) ACT 9261-2
(2000) ACT 9275-2
(2002) ACT 9410-2
(2005) ACT 9432-2
(2006) ACT 9444-2
(2009) ACT 9483-2
(2010) ACT 6004-2
(2011) ACT 9506-2
(2014) ACT 9574-2

ALBUMS AS ENGINEER/PRODUCER only


ABU NAWAS RHAPSODY                Dhafer Youssef                                (2010) Jazzland

WAY OF LIFE                                    Céline Bonacina                               (2010) ACT

MITAN                                                Mario Canonge                                (2011) Rue Stendhal/Kann’ production

DRUM’N’KOTO                                  Chris Jennings                                 (2013) Promise Land/MusicJustMusic

KYOKU                                                Mieko MIyazaki & Suizan Lagrost      (2013) Felmay  fy 8199

PRABHU EDOUARD                          Prabhu Edouard                                  (2014)