Born: January 14, 1959 Primary Instrument: Guitar
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 De has been considered 1989' s best World Music album Philippe Conrath, Liberation.
Nguyen 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 (Andre 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 Herve 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. Nguyen 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 De &, 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) & Jo�l Allouche (d), he records his 2nd album ZANZIBAR, which gets the � ffff � award by T�l�rama. In Jan. 93 he records INIT, a trio with Andr� Ceccarelli, Fran�ois Moutin & guest Bob Berg, while setting up a new band on the music of Jimi Hendrix, w/ Corin Curschellas (voc), Steve Arg�elles (d), Richard Bona (b). Since Jan. 93 he's been a frequent guest soloist of Koln's WDR Big band, especially with composer/director Vince MENDOZA. Nguyen Le plays on three of his projects : Jazzpaea, 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, Telerama 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...
In April 96, Nguyen Le creates Tales from Viet-Nam, a project on Vietnamese music, with a 8-piece band blending jazz & traditional musicians. With stage director P. J. San Bartolome, he starts Of the Moon & the Wind , a complete show where traditional & contemporary vietnamese dancers are integrated to the Tales from Viet- 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 Nguy�n L� releases his 5th CD, 3 Trios, with Marc Johnson/ Peter Erskine, Dieter Ilg/ Danny Gottlieb & Renaud Gar�ia Fons/ Mino Cinelu. JAZZIZ Magazine USA says : � At times, jazz guitar can sound staid - but not in the case of N. L�. 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. L� record : � Maghreb & Friends �, an exploration of Maghreb musical traditions & a deep collaboration with Algerian musicians. � Far from a false world music, N. L� simply touches, with force & intensity, to universality � F. Medioni. N. L� 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 Gar�ia 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 ne 1 on the charts of UK magazine Jazzwise. Today it's N. Le's most successful album, with 18 000 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. 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 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 commissionned by the Ahn Trio & the Laguna Beach Fest in LA. Nguyen Le was unanimously awarded as the guitar Django d'Or 2006.