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QUYEN VAN MINH - BINH MINH JAZZ CLUB

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Saxophone father and son duo to jazz up Hanoi

Apr 7, 2009

Thanh Nien News - Two famous jazz saxophonists - a father and son duo - will perform some old jazz favorites and some of their own compositions at Hanoi Opera House Monday.

Titled “Quyen Van Minh va ban be voi nhac jazz” (Quyen Van Minh and friends with jazz), father Quyen Van Minh and son Quyen Thien Dac’s performance will be a forerunner to the second show titled “Cha, con va jazz” (Father, son and jazz), on April 27.

Jazzing up Hanoi’s millennium

The shows, which are part of the 1,000th birthday celebration of Thang Long - Hanoi, will feature a duet called Vu dieu Thang Long (Thang Long dance) composed by Minh and inspired by modern jazz and Vietnamese folk melodies.

The show that follows last year’s Cha va con (Father and son), will include seven international jazz songs and seven jazz songs with Vietnamese folk music so that listeners can compare the two forms.

The father and son express two different styles - one classic, one modern.

Jazz inspired by folk

Jazz in Vietnam has never really taken off with fewer Vietnamese than foreigners going to Minh’s jazz club every night.

According to Minh, Vietnamese folk music needs to be incorporated into jazz to attract local attention.

He says because local people are imbued with folk music - creating a musical hybrid helps audiences feel closer to the songs and see images of their own country in jazz. From there, they grow to like it little by little.

When Minh studied jazz and became a jazz performer, he wondered why international artists drew inspiration from the Orient to compose songs but the Vietnamese didn’t take advantage of their own material to write jazz. He then decided to blend Vietnamese harmonies into his compositions.

In 1944, Minh performed three jazz songs with folk music - Van vuong (Sentiment), Giai dieu Sa Pa (Melodies of Sa Pa) and Xuan tren que huong (Spring in the country). These songs received acclaim from international audiences and Vietnamese song composers.

‘Jazz gives me everything’

Oddly, despite his local fame and nearly 40 years of experience, Minh still considers himself an amateur who can only succeed by constant study and effort.

He also lectures in saxophone playing at Hanoi National Conservatory of Music.

He says the biggest thing jazz has given him is self-esteem - he lives peacefully with every one thanks to jazz.

He first heard jazz when he was 14 years old on the radio and without knowing what it was began to love it.

“Jazz gives me everything,” he says, adding, “If I didn’t play jazz, I don’t know how I would change.”

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