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Saxophonist jazzes up local music scene

Dec 27, 2001

saxophonistVietnamnews - Ha noi-Quyen Van Minh,a 48-year-old saxophonenist,will be flying the flag for Viet Nam’s jazz maestros at the European Jazz Festival in Ha Noi this week

The festival,sponsored by the European Commission Delegation in Ha Noi and the Horison Hotel,will see Minh and his four sidekicks play jazz pieces dating from the 50’s to the 70’s.

The quintet will also play some of Minh’s own jazz compositions including Vu Dieu Thang Long (Thang Long Dance) and Rung Nui Que Ta ( Our Mountain And Forest).

“We’re very proud to be performing a the festival because the finest talents from European countries like France,Belgium,Norway,Denmark and Britain are going to be there,”he said.

“We’re going to jam with the Voeten-Bernay quintet and the Red River band.Our contribution is going to have a unique Vietnamese twist and we hope that both the Vietnamese and foreigners will like it.”

Minh regularly plays to a packed audience at his own Jazz club in the capital,dazzling audiences with his high energy performances.

Surprisingly however,Minh was never formally trained.

“Jazz has run through my blood and soul since I was a boy,” Minh recalled. “ I listened to jazz on my radio and tried to play my first notes on an old guitar which my mother gave me.”

“At that time,very few people liked jazz in Viet Nam.But was not about to give up my passion”

Minh began teaching himself to play saxophone in 1978.Ten years later he thrilled a Ha Noi Musician Association audience with his first performance at a major concert.

“After my first show,I taught at the Ha Noi Conservatory of Music.I became the first jazz teacher in Viet Nam.Jazz has brought a lot of beautiful things to my life.”

Minh says that he has spent much of his career trying to adapt traditional Vietnamese music to a jazz style. “I want Viet Nam to have its own style of jazz.”

Working at one of biggest conservatories in the nation,Minh has plenty of opportunities to play and research jazz.

“I composed and played my first traditional Vietnamese music inspired jazz tunes in 1994 and the results were encouraging.”

Minh opened a jazz club in Luong Van Can street in Ha Noi where jazz fans can enjoy or play jazz on a small stage every night.

“My club attracts many jazz fan and artists from all over the country and overseas,” he said. “The only goal of my life is to bring jazz to Vietnamese people.”

The bohemian artist still practices for several hours a day.

“The Government gave me the Meritorious Artist Award.But my greatest reward in my students and jazz fans.”

vietnamnews 27/12/2001

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