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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 27, 2005
"The intent of the artist is the same as that of the sorceror: It is the act of making something out of nothing"

This ecstatic, amazing and inspired music, this lightening bolt of AHA! against the midnight sky of smooth jazz post 90's mono directional mediocrity, this authentic record embodies that most rare and wonderful of things: a mature work by an artist with a truly original voice.

This CD plays with all the elements, dark and light, heaven and earth,water and fire, performing a balancing act of opposites. Hallowed but familiar ground, it's all there: Nguyen Le fans will recognize the organic forms, compositional savvy, intellectual prowess (plus balls to the wall guitar licks) in league with a manic genius intuition. A rare combination indeed!! This CD is a valuable addition to the collection of any enthusiast or novitiate. My non-jazz loving girlfriend even liked it!! (Parts, anyway...)

ArT LaNde and Paul McCandless reprise their wonderful association with Mr Le, first documented on his second solo album, "Zanzibar". While Zanzibar (sadly out of print) is a Le classic, full of thorny compositions and marvelously interactive playing, "Walking" is a completely 21st century statement, a reinvention of their earlier work and then some, highlighting the individual maturation of three radically under-appreciated modern musicians. "Walking" is infused with pan-asian, african, european, middleastern and mediterranean elements, influences that span the history of jazz and go far back to its common roots in world music. These are just some of the exotic ingredients of this heady musical stew, which steams across the continents, fleet footed and free. There are no boundaries for these veteran travelers: the whole planet is their musical turf.

There is no bass player on this project. At first I was afraid that it would lack punch in the bottom, but all four players pick up the role at different times, giving this session a decidely open feel it would not have had with a more conventional treatment of the bass.

No egos, no bloated parades, no guitar hero grandstanding here- just beautiful compositions by one of the most unique voices in modern improvised music, accompanied by two sympatico fellow innovators, longtime compatriots from a continent away. Special mention must be made of a newcomer to this listener,versatile and supple percussionist/drummer Jamey Haddad. The result is at times stark, seductive,warm, entrancing, unsettling, sublime, inside/outside, yet strangely familiar and always, always engaging. Hunt down this CD, and in the end this quarry will become your old friend, your family, your refuge.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2005
Flipping through the pages of JazzTimes, I've often boggled at the number of guitar players making recordings, wondering how many of them could possibly be saying anything new. I generally will buy anything with either Paul McCandless or Art Lande, and absolutely will buy anything with both, so when I read about this CD I bought it on that basis. But those guys' contributions are only an ancillary benefit to this amazing recording by a guitar player who is the most distinctive I've encountered since I first heard Bill Frisell 20+ years ago. Superficially reminiscent of David Torn and Allan Holdsworth, Le uses every imaginable sonority available on the electric guitar -- but it's constantly in the service of a refined and original sensibility. Le integrates east and west in an integral and organic way, as I suppose you can do only if you grow up in Paris, the child of Vietnamese immigrants, listening to Jimi Hendrix. Get this CD, and get Bakida, which amazingly enough is even better.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 5, 2005
Nguyen Le has turned in another ruminative consideration of the spiritual quality of life, this time ably assisted by Paul McCandless and others, inspired by his own close call with cancer. As he has done in works ranging from the Hendrix tribute Colour of Purple to his mystical Tales From Viet Nam, and in all his work with his partner Huong Thanh from Moon and Wind through Dragonfly to Mangustao, he has given the guitar a unique voice. No easy task. That voice speaks like the writinigs of Thich Naht Hanh, and seeks to utter that quiet space where what is most fundamentally true remains silent. In considering this paradox, Le articulates in lines more Viet Namese and Buddhist than anything in the Western tradition of Jazz, save perhaps where Coltrane was beginning to go at the end of his life.

Add McCandless and his soulful oboe and reed work, which seemed to first catch my ears in the Paul Winter Consort's epochal ICARUS, and you have a contemplation of critical moments in life that re-direct your intentionality. This is brilliant music.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I am very taken by this music. Nguyên Lê, with a handful of outstanding discs, here tops anything he's previously done, including the entirely remarkable Bakida.

First off, he's landed on perhaps his ultimate band. Let's be clear here: Paul McCandless, a wonderful wind player, doesn't really play jazz. And that's entirely OK. What he plays is a kind of classically oriented folksy/New Agey/jazzy assortment of wind instruments. And play them very well, I might add. Art Lande, a marvelous pianist, often seems to find himself in contexts not entirely suited to his pianistic genius. Not here, though. Maybe it's because he's played so much with Lê and McCandless that he achieves an entirely apposite pianistic approach, rhythmically sophisticated, delicately swinging, and quite soulful.

Jimmy Haddad has long been considered among the absolute masters of sophisticated jazz percussion among those in the know. And if he, like Lande, hasn't always found the optimal setting to display his formidable chops, he's certainly found it here.

Leader Lê, always seeking to situate himself in challenging musical environments, here maps out a sophisticated world jazz aesthetic. This kind of thing, often tried and seldom completely pulled off, can only work if the leader has a crystal clear concept combined with a huge musical horizon, which Lê has. It was a risk to record without a bassist, but the challenge yields big rewards. With the various instruments sharing bottom duties, the music is somehow emancipated to achieve a looseness and freedom unimaginable with a bassist: there's an airiness, a diaphanousness quality, that attractively pervades these proceedings.

A remarkable disc, eminently worth acquiring.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The above description alone should provide a tip-off as to how taken I am by this music. Nguyên Lê, with a handful of outstanding discs, here tops anything he's previously done, including the entirely remarkable Bakida.

First off, he's landed on perhaps his ultimate band. Let's be clear here: Paul McCandless, a wonderful wind player, doesn't really play jazz. And that's entirely OK. What he plays is a kind of classically oriented folksy/New Agey/jazzy assortment of wind instruments. And play them very well, I might add. Art Lande, a marvelous pianist, often seems to find himself in contexts not entirely suited to his pianistic genius. Not here, though. Maybe it's because he's played so much with Lê and McCandless that he achieves an entirely apposite pianistic approach, rhythmically sophisticated, delicately swinging, and quite soulful.

Jimmy Haddad has long been considered among the absolute masters of sophisticated jazz percussion among those in the know. And if he, like Lande, hasn't always found the optimal setting to display his formidable chops, he's certainly found it here.

Leader Lê, always seeking to situate himself in challenging musical environments, here maps out a sophisticated world jazz aesthetic. This kind of thing, often tried and seldom completely pulled off, can only work if the leader has a crystal clear concept combined with a huge musical horizon, which Lê has. It was a risk to record without a bassist, but the challenge yields big rewards. With the various instruments sharing bottom duties, the music is somehow emancipated to achieve a looseness and freedom unimaginable with a bassist: there's an airiness, a diaphanousness quality, that attractively pervades these proceedings.

A remarkable disc, eminently worth acquiring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 1, 2008
"The intent of the artist is the same as that of the sorceror: It is the act of making something out of nothing"

This ecstatic, amazing and inspired music, this lightening bolt of AHA! against the midnight sky of smooth jazz post 90's mono directional mediocrity, this authentic record embodies that most rare and wonderful of things: a mature work by an artist with a truly original voice.

This CD plays with all the elements, dark and light, heaven and earth,water and fire, performing a balancing act of opposites. Hallowed but familiar ground, it's all there: Nguyen Le fans will recognize the organic forms, compositional savvy, intellectual prowess (plus balls to the wall guitar licks) in league with a manic genius intuition. A rare combination indeed!! This CD is a valuable addition to the collection of any enthusiast or novitiate. My non-jazz loving girlfriend even liked it!! (Parts, anyway...)

ArT LaNde and Paul McCandless reprise their wonderful association with Mr Le, first documented on his second solo album, "Zanzibar". While Zanzibar (recently reissued!) is a Le classic, full of thorny compositions and marvelously interactive playing, "Walking" is a completely 21st century statement, a reinvention of their earlier work and then some, highlighting the individual maturation of three radically under-appreciated modern musicians. "Walking" is infused with pan-asian, african, european, middleastern and mediterranean elements, influences that span the history of jazz and go far back to its common roots in world music. These are just some of the exotic ingredients of this heady musical stew, which steams across the continents, fleet footed and free. There are no boundaries for these veteran travelers: the whole planet is their musical turf.

There is no bass player on this project. At first I was afraid that it would lack punch in the bottom, but all four players pick up the role at different times, giving this session a decidely open feel it would not have had with a more conventional treatment of the bass.

No egos, no bloated parades, no guitar hero grandstanding here- just beautiful compositions by one of the most unique voices in modern improvised music, accompanied by two sympatico fellow innovators, longtime compatriots from a continent away. Special mention must be made of a newcomer to this listener,versatile and supple percussionist/drummer Jamey Haddad. The result is at times stark, seductive,warm, entrancing, unsettling, sublime, inside/outside, yet strangely familiar and always, always engaging. Hunt down this CD, and in the end this quarry will become your old friend, your family, your refuge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2010
I put this on while I was doing work around the house; it kept me motivated as I was taking out the trash! heh.

Nguyen Le and his gang of musicians don't disappoint. There are some serious chops here, but it's not of the flashy variety where technical prowess overshadows the compositions. This album just has the right amount of everything for the casual listener and for those who are technically inclined and want to hear some excellent musicianship.

I am no jazz buff, and I don't normally listen to this genre of music. I mean, this album is so easy on the ears and draws you in. I honestly never had this experience before while listening to this genre of music. Contemporary jazz is usually too complex for my virgin ears! I should probably be more cultured in this area before I make any comments here!

Anyhow IMHO this is an excellent CD, and I won't hesitate to recommend it to anybody.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised at what this album had to offer, especially as I carry my personal musical bias as a bass player, and that there was an interesting absence of one on this album.

Simply put, this is a beautiful album. Its orchestrations are rich and diverse, the musicians' interplay and sensitivity to each other and, more importantly, reverence to the music, are indicative of a level of mastery and maturity that transcends the group's relatively short collaborative history.

A definite 5-star outing, and I sincerely hope the quartet has more to offer in the future.
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