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1. Sweet Ganesh      5:34

2. Autumn Wind      5:56

3. Mina Zuki           4:43

4. Mayur                 6:26

5. Sangam               5:23

6. Azur                    7:43

7. Izanagi Izanami    4:57

8. Hen Ho                3:57

9. Nanae Goromo     7:05

10. Ila                      4:41

total time     56 :25

Nguyên Lê 

electric, acoustic (3), fretless guitar (4), ebow (9), mouth harp (1), synths (2,4)

Mieko Miyazaki  

koto, koto bass (4,6,11) shamisen (2,4,8), vocals (5,7,8, 9,10)

Prabhu Edouard    

tablas, udu, Malaysian tamburine, kanjira (3,8), finger cymbals (1), shakers (6), vocals (1,5,7,8)

Special guest on « Autumn Wind », « Mina Zuki », « Sangam » :

Hariprasad Chaurasia

bansuri flute

Backing vocals on « Sangam » : Seheno, Mieko, Prabhu, Nahr.

Produced, recorded & mixed by Nguyên Lê

at Louxor studios, Paris Barbès, april & may  2009

Mastered by Bruno Gruel, Elektra Mastering

Photos by Liliroze & Gérard Gouet

Japanese calligraphy by Mieko Miyazaki

Executive Siegfried Loch

Super special thanks to our hero Chaurasia & to our muse Dominique Borker

Special thanks to Henri Tournier, Renaud Garcia Fons, Steve Argüelles, Manuel Solans, Taro Miyazaki, Seheno, Nahr, Gérard, Hao Nhiên, Chris Jennings and Julie Duvigneau.

Nguyên Lê uses EMG pickups


SAIYUKI*,  the Japanese name for the « Journey to the West »,  is a famous Chinese novel written in the XVIth century by Wu Cheng'en.

A text narrating bonze Xuanzang’s expedition to India during the VIIIth century in a quest for sacred buddhist texts. His main escort in this epic fantasy is Sun Wu Kong, the Monkey King, a most impish character with gifted magic abilities. He can fly on the clouds or change himself into a genie or a fabulous monster. The Chinese Monkey King has also an Indian brother: Hanouman , who is one of the most popular gods of Hinduism. Throughout all of Asia, the « Journey to the West » has always inspired a great range of adaptations through painting rolls, Peking Opera, a Pop Opera from Damon Albarn, Mangas, TV serials, video games like Dragon Ball Z…

I chose to use the « Journey to the West » as an image for travels, both real and imaginary, which bring us together to create this music. Like a quest for a secret which is only found through adventures from afar, while holding on to the most precious treasure, our identity. Passing from Viêt-Nam to India through Japan, we weave the threads of silk which portray an Asia with no borders. Everyone has his or her own center point. The West viewed by the Chinese novel was India, but right now the center is exploding: it becomes plural, Dialogue has began and connections are opening up!

Each musician of Saiyuki is blessed with a double culture combining tradition & modernity and is a virtuoso of their very specific instrument. Mieko & Prabhu have genuine traditional qualities. One has performed an XVIIIth century Japanese classical piece for the Imperial couple, whereas the other has played with living god of hindustani flute, Hariprasad Chaurasia, whom we have the honour & pleasure to invite on this recording.

At the same time, Mieko and Prabhu are also living ethnic musicians, who are keen on styles and  techniques of today’s music, curious about new meetings and open to the potentials our world can offer. My language is Jazz, but I have chosen to open it and to nourish it with other essential cultures that fascinate me and remind me of my origins. As a jazz musician, I have as much fun improvising with them as with other great jazz musicians. The challenge is always there as well as freedom & inspiration. Improvisation, an instantaneous understanding and creative process, pushes away the barriers of our cultural encounter.

Saiyuki is the meeting of three shades of Asia, from both today and yesterday. In this playground, identities have so much to share and learn from each other! The roots, deep in the earth. The leaves of the trees, up in the skies…

Nguyên Lê

*(                     in Vietnamese)

SAIYUKI*  est le nom japonais pour Le Voyage en Occident, le célèbre roman chinois du XVIe siècle de Wu Cheng'en.

Ce roman conte l'expédition en Inde, au VIIIe siècle, du bonze Xuanzang à la recherche de textes bouddhiques sacrés. Dans ces aventures fantastiques, il est surtout aidé par le Roi des Singes Sun Wukong. C'est un personnage plein de malice, doté de pouvoirs magiques : il peut voler sur les nuages ou se transformer en génie ou en monstre fabuleux.  Le Roi des SInges chinois a un frère indien : Hanuman , l’un des dieux les plus populaires de l'hindouisme. Partout en Asie, Le Voyage en Occident est à la base d'une multitude d'adaptations qui vont des rouleaux peints, Opéra de Pékin, Opéra "Pop" comme celui de Damon Albarn, aux mangas, feuilletons télévisés ou jeux video comme DragonBall Z...

J'ai voulu prendre ce Voyage en Occident comme symbole des voyages, réels ou imaginaires, qui nous amènent à créer cette musique. Comme la quête d'un secret qui doit nécessairement passer par l'aventure de l'Ailleurs, tout en gardant le plus précieux des trésors : notre identité. Du Vietnam à l'Inde en passant par le Japon, nous tisserons les fils de soie qui peignent le visage d'une Asie sans frontières. A chacun son centre cardinal, (l'Occident mentionné dans le roman Chinois était l'Inde), mais ici, il explose. Le Centre est multiple, le Dialogue est lancé, les correspondances sont ouvertes : fêtons cela en musique !

Chaque musicien de SAIYUKI a la richesse d'une double culture, traditionnelle et moderne à la fois. Chacun est virtuose de son très spécifique instrument. Mieko et Prabhu peuvent être profondément traditionnels, l'une interpréter une pièce classique japonaise du XVIIIe siècle pour le couple Impérial, l’autre accompagner le divin flûtiste hindoustani Hariprasad Chaurasia, que nous avons l’honneur et le plaisir d’inviter dans cet album.

Mais Mieko et Prabhu sont aussi des musiciens ethniques vivants, connaisseurs des languages & des techniques de la musique d'aujourd'hui, curieux de rencontres et ouverts sur tous les possibles de notre monde. Mon language est le Jazz, mais j'ai choisi de l'ouvrir et de le nourrir d'autres cultures essentielles qui me fascinent & me rappellent mon origine. En tant que musicien de Jazz j'ai autant de plaisir à improviser avec eux qu'avec un autre grand musicien de Jazz. Le challenge est toujours là, la liberté & l'inspiration aussi. L'improvisation, cette compréhension & création musicale instantanée, repousse les limites du croisement de nos cultures.

Saiyuki est la rencontre de trois visages de l’Asie d’hier et d’aujourd’hui. Dans ce terrain de jeu, les identités ont tant à partager & à apprendre de l’autre ! Au plus profond de la terre, les racines. Au plus près du ciel, les feuilles des arbres…

                                                                                    Nguyên Lê

en vietnamien)

Mieko Miyazaki started the Koto at 9. She learned Koto & Shamisen at the famous Tokyo National University for Arts & Music. While still a student, she performed for the Emperor & the Empress of Japan. After getting brilliant diplomas, she became a highly demanded performer, mostly for Radio/TV shows & official events. She also started a career of songwriter & composer for TV, Radio, children songs & advertising. Since 1999 she has focused on her own projects, special bands & personal albums (10 on her name since 1995). She has lived in France since 2006 & multiplies cross culture meetings : Koto2Evans, a jazz quartet plying Bill Evans music on Koto, Voce Ventu, a polyphonic choir from Corsica, her own trio with violin & accordion, her regular collaborations with vietnamese singer Huong Thanh & jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê.

Prabhu Edouard is a tabla virtuoso of south-indian origin based in Paris. A worthy disciple of Maestro Shankar Gosh from Calcutta, ,Prabhu is accomplished both as a traditional musician and a versatile percussionist. His tablas have accompanied various artists like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Jordi Savall, J.P.Drouet, Saïd Chraïbi, Moriba Koïta, Mario Laghina… Reputed both as a performer and a teacher, Prabhu  is a contemporary musician whose tablas build bridges between cultures & traditions.



Prabhu Edouard

Nguyên Lê

Mieko Miyazaki

Prabhu Edouard (arr. Nguyen Lê) Prabhu Edouard (arr. Nguyen Lê)

Nguyên Lê

Mieko Miyazaki

Nguyên Lê

M. Miyazaki, N. Lê, P. Edouard

Prabhu Edouard (arr. Nguyen Lê)


Lili Roze

Lili Roze