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'Fragile Beauty' melds Vietnamese and French music

     The melding of Vietnamese folksongs with jazz and African rhythms will bring an unexpected ethereal world music experience to local audiences next month (November).

     Blending traditional Vietnamese songs with Western jazz and Eastern folk music instruments, the extraordinary performance by Huong Thanh and Nguyen Le transcends cultural boundaries. With a fusion dialogue between Japanese koto, African drums, keyboard and traditional Vietnamese instruments, "Fragile Beauty" is a wonderful collaborative concert that no world music fan can afford to miss.

     Vocalist Huong Thanh was trained at a young age to interpret folk tunes. She embodies the particularities of the Vietnamese traditional singing, full of detailed inflexion, ornaments, finesse and diversity of expression and timbres.

     Guitarist Nguyen Le is not only a brilliant performer but also an outstanding creative producer and sound mixer. He has been influenced by jazz greats such as Gil Evans and Ornette Coleman. The latter's creative spirit has been the guiding light of Nguyen's works.

     The septet appearing in "Fragile Beauty" is an excellent example of East-West fusion. Instruments such as the Japanese koto and the 16-string zither create a distinctly oriental air. But what really catches the ear is the merging of these Eastern sounds with electric and acoustic guitars as well as synthesisers. Improvisation will also be a major feature so will be the dialogue between various instruments, such as Japanese koto, guitars and African percussion instruments.

     Folk Roots(UK)appraised Huong Thanh "A voice that might melt glaciers and make deserts bloom with roses"; JazzTimes(USA) said, "A masterful and inventive player, Nguyen Le ranks right up there with Frisell, John Scofield, Mike Stern and Allan Holdsworth in the post-Hendrix world of jazz guitar".

     Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Huong Thanh comes from a family of renowned traditional musicians. Her father was a famous singer of Cai Luong, renovated Vietnamese theatre. Since her move to Paris in 1977, she has taken part in performances of Cai Luong with great traditional artists in Europe. In 1995, she met Nguyen Le who brought her to the world of jazz. Her third album Mangustao produced by Nguyen Le was awarded the Choc de la Musique from French magazine Le Monde de la Musique in 2004. She received the France Musique des Musiques du Monde award for the music of the Vietnamese traditional trio in 2007.

     Born in Paris, Nguyen Le is a musician with a wide range of interest including rock, funk, jazz and ethnic music. He has performed with the French National Jazz Orchestra, composed orchestral works, and recorded albums with many top musicians. Since 1989 he has recorded 11 albums on his own, including Bakida which was voted as the Best Jazz Album of the Year by CD Compact in Spain in 2004, and Homescape which held the number one position on the charts of Jazzwise in April 2006. He was awarded the prize of Django d'Or in 2006.

     "Fragile Beauty" is one of the programmes of the New Vision Arts Festival organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. It will be staged at 8pm on November 16 at the Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall. A post-performance talk will be given afterwards.

     Tickets priced at $120, $180, $260 and $360 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Group booking discounts of up to 20% are available.

     Programme brochures are now available at URBTIX outlets or at the website

     For programme enquiries, please call 2370 1044. Credit card telephone bookings can be made on 2111 5999 and telephone reservations on 2734 9009. Internet bookings can be made at

Ends/Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Blending traditional Vietnamese songs with Western jazz and eastern folk music instruments, the extraordinary performance by vocalist Huong Thanh (front) and guitarist Nguyen Le transcends cultural boundaries.


Guitarist Nguyen Le is not only a brilliant performer but also an outstanding creative producer and sound mixer.



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