Dé  ULTRAMARINE 2nd album 

Is this 1989's best "World Music" album ? we can definitely say so, because never a band has mixed with so much skill the musical heritage of his members. Mario CANONGE, piano is from West Indies, as well as BAGO, the percussionist. Etienne MBAPPE, on bass is from Cameroon, and the drum- mer Mokhtar SAMBA from Marocco & Senegal. Nguyên LE, the guitarist ( a virtuoso to be closely watched over ) is vietnamese and Pierre Olivier GOVIN, the saxophonist is a white french guy, that's all we know about him ... Dé , their refreshing album, has to be located between Miles DAVIS and Ray LEMA, in every good record collection.

Philippe CONRATH, Libération, jan. 4, 1990

" Magnificent " Nguyên LE : rather cautious in the O. N. J. , he' s just astounding here. Terrific, amazing ! . Impressive by the mastery of sound, colors and harmonies, this guitarist has nothing to learn from anyone, he could even become a model for others. Listen to his solo on "POGO" and send me the transcription! Full of energy and great compositions, you've got to buy this record, right?

Olivier CAUVIN, Guitarist Magazine, nov 89

MIRACLES  Nguyen LE 1rst album, 1989

Miracle ! Here is Nguyên LE's first record ! A lot of us thought that his personality needed a first role in an achieved recording project. Two decisive encounters : one with excellent pianist Art LANDE , strengthening his jazz identity ; & the other, during a few concerts of the National Jazz Orchestra, with drummer Peter ERSKINE who will bring his bass partner Marc JOHNSON . The bet is successful : The compositions of Nguyen LE & Dominique BORKER (his alter ego) serves the band's expression. The great care taken with the record's construction is essential - alternance of quartet settings & duo interludes, solo conclusion - Nguyên LE shows, as usual, his very sure taste for sound matter, even giving us one part of his secrets, with the Dan Tranh, a vietnamese instrument which has influenced his guitar playing &, more globally, his musical concepts. Something new has happened.

Arnaud MERLIN Le Monde de la Musique june 1990

Miraculous ? Indeed this music is, for the understanding & the perfect balance between the four protagonists as well as the diversity of peaceful & haunting atmospheres . Nguyên LE offered to his famous partners --- Lande & his subtle Art, Erskine & Johnson brothers in mind -- the most beautiful canvas, made of synthethic, entrancing streams & of energetic, luminous guitar. Let yourself be caught, don't fear the rapture that will come with this intriguing music...

Magician ? Surely Nguyen is one...

Fréderic GOATY Jazz Magazine may 90

Within himself , Nguyên LE has a subtle universe of cleverness and grace far away from commonplace. He fits equally well in " classical " Jazz, Fusion, Funk or World Music . If he uses computer programming, or guitar-synth, it's never meaningless : it enters his work on sound colors and atmospheres, in order to widen his musical horizon . Everything sounds right, always & absolutely.

A trip in an imaginary , timeless space. To be listened to only with a free spirit.

Christine MULARD Compact july 1990

A guitar player is born. Since the National Jazz Orchestra directed by Antoine HERVE, Nguyên L E has attracted much attention. Warm, lyrical, creative. Plus an elegant style which everybody enjoys.With the dazzling bass player Jean François JENNY CLARK, he has formed a duo which should be heard with no delay. First, guitar players will be interested ( for the technique ) ; so will music lovers ( for the invention ) ; and each one who can't stand to be out of date.

Francis MARMANDE Le Monde nov 1990

Nguyên Lê is really a guitar funambulist, with a very lithe style, nearly feline. He is more and more mature, for his technique is never a goal in itself, but always serves his beautiful music. And he expresses himself whith an extreme subtlety. Seeing and hearing his band, you would think Jazz is an easy music to play, because the musicians seem to be having such a good time. But beyond the excitement, that is also a beautiful and deep musical experience. Nguyên L ê is a wonderful magician of sounds and colors.

Camille THOMAS Dunkerque Expansion nov 1991

French guitar player born from vietnamese parents, Nguyên Lê is a profound, mysterious musician, who never plays without meaning. His brightness and his simplicity are overwhelming.

Jean WAGNER Télérama nov 1992

An imperative voice of the guitar : it flows, it swirls, it' s highly contrasted, between Hendrix & Jim Hall.

Michel Contat Télérama sept 1994

" The Berlin JazzFest ", review by Ulrich Olshausen

The discovery in the Festival was vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê , guest soloist of the WDR Big Band conducted by Vince Mendoza . No one plays guitar like him, with this rock edge strained by the intensity of the silences, with this catching force coming to us like an ancient call of some buddhist ritual; an incredible ability to make the musical ideas flow.

On soprano saxophone, Dave Liebman, another guest soloist, expressed his wide musical fantasy with a rare freedom & easiness. Maybe also because of the unique spirit given by the guitarist.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung nov. 4th, 1993

TALES FROM VIËT-NAM  1996/97 articles USA

Tales from Viet-Nam mixes East-West sound with guest percussionist Trilok Gurtu working his magic - truly world-jazz fusion at its best.

Nancy Ann Lee Cleveland Free Times Feb 1997

When he hits the right mix, Le's music creates a seamless genre unto itself.

Bob Gulla Replay Feb 1997

The delicate, passionate, ethereal voice of Huong Thanh is accented by the interplay & the synthesis between diverse cultures. Nguyên Lê's Tales from Viet-Nam is full of wonderful enriching tales, history, culture, sounds. When it meets America's indigenous music jazz, indian, and music played by European based musicians, the fusion, the energy, the interplay of the rich, highly complementary work of these creatives artists is fine, mystical, magical. It's a marvelously beautiful work.

Global Beat Jazz,Roots, Rhythms (Internet)

Le has silkfully weaved a musical cultural fabric between traditional Vietnamese themes & American Jazz. The result is simply delicious. While Le's paint brilliant musical pictures & fresh guitar improvisations, our attention was really captured by the Vietnamese vocal colorings of Huong Thanh. A simply wonderful musical experience.

Donald V. Adderton The Sun Herald MS, nov. 1996

One of the few recordings to bring the unusual beauty of vietnamese traditional music in contact with Western styles. Fascinating overall, especially Huong Thanh's soulful vocals.

City Pages Minneapolis jan 1997

Vocalist Huong Thanh is the real star of the show. There's a determination there that propels her to the front of the listener's awareness.

Jim Trageser North County Times dec. 1996

Nguyên Lê's mingling of East & West sounds effortlessly effective. His obvious understanding of both sides yields a music devoid of contrivance & full of honesty. As an arranger he brings a distinctive personality & unique perspective, with great taste. A lovely & remarkably fresh album that illustrates the limitless potential of cross-cultural exchange.

Chris Kelsley Rhythm Music march 1997

The hybridization of western & eastern cultures has most often borne offspring of surpassing strength & beauty; no surprise then, that the fusion of jazz & Asian music cultures has provided some of the most adventurous & exhilarating recordings of the last decade. To the list of the pioneers you can now add the first of these albums by the Vietnamese-French guitarist Nguyên Lê, the marvelous Tales from Viêt-Nam. He has constructed an elegant & moving program, with most of the pieces derived from traditional Vietnamese melodies.

In Three Trios, his latest date, traces of Asia still inhabits in Nguyên Lê's guitar work. His pan-culturalism gives his music a reach & purpose beyond his obvious skills as a guitarist. And on Tales from Viêt-Nam, his overt exploration of that pan-culturalism results in a minor masterpiece.

Neil Tesser Jazztimes may 1997

3 TRIOS CD reviews

While the 2 firsts trios (Silk & Silver) extend supremely the splendid guitarist, the third one (Sand) opens new horizons to the composer with unprecedented sonic landscapes : it emphasizes the nearly acoustic quality of his approach full of nuances to electric guitar.

"3 Trios" is like a hold image of Nguyên Lê on the move. Between 3 shots at goal.

Alex Dutilh Jazzman, France april 1997

Many - any kind of music - doesn’t get more multinational than on this wonderful disc from this exceptional guitarist & leader. The result is frequently amazing music by three trios that are genuine trios, not a soloist with two accompanists. Le hereby stakes the claim as the most extraordinary guitarist to hit jazz since John Scofield. His music combines enormous power & Oriental delicacy, while at the same time giving immense freedom to other musicians. One of the great Jazz records, so far, of 1997.

Jeff Simon Buffalo News, USA, april 11, 1997

The fusion genre proved to be pretty much a dead end. It’s surprising to still come across fusion-oriented records. It’s doubly surprising when the record is as good as guitarist Nguyên Lê’s « 3 Trios ». Le has his own brand of fiery soloing.

Robert Iannapollo Cadence, USA, July 1997

Nguyên Lê’s Three Trios is fusion in the purest sense of the word, for the guitarist brings worlds together in a restless act of discovery. Lê seems everywhere, borrowing distant Southeast-Asian timbres or meandering through an urban-rock landscape in the same breath. With such a diverse appetite, his notes sound odd, almost wrong, but that’s what makes the music so right, so fresh, so interesting.

At times, jazz guitar can sound staid - but not in the case of Nguyên Lê. He’s forever breaking boundaries for our benefit.

Samuel Fromartz JAZZIZ Magazine, USA, Sept 1997

Nguyên Lê is amazing. His guitar work is unique, inspiring, technically challenging, fired with soul, jazzy, rocking, and drips of fusion yet goes even further. You will hear world music (far-Eastern/Southeast Asian) scales and note treatments in attack, vibrato, and bends. Lê is of Vietnamese heritage but knows full well the world of jazz and rock.

He can play light-hearted, crystalline-clear tones, dreamy chordal sustains, wielding an endless barrage of effects and suddenly flat-out scream and wail like a banshee as if Ninja warriors had invaded the studio. I have never heard anything quite like him. I was deeply impressed first listen to this release. Every jazz musician and fusion musician needs to hear this magic. Lê is standing all alone in his total sound and delivery. My adored track was « La Parfum » for its simple elegance, beauty, and its power to transport me into bliss . . .Really this is CD to be experienced in totality. You will discover sounds and feelings you will thrill to if you love great guitar-driven jazz. Highest of recommendations!!!

All That Jazz, John W. Patterson


The music is alive, visceral and organic. This stuff makes your marrow undulate & your synapses sizzle. « Maghreb & Friends » is world jazz fusion at its best – in the boldest sense of the recently shunned F-word.

Robert Kaye PRAX Music magazine january 1999

  Press Clips 1989 > 1998