Nguyên Lê Trio: Silk And Sand

French guitarist who found his own, orientalised, voice in jazz fusion offers another rich mix of jazz, world music and hip solo lines


“I am the fusion of cultures personified” claims the self-taught Nguyên Lê in the release notes to Silk And Sand. A world-music perspective certainly frames the music performed, its strongly pulsing rhythms drawn from a range of international sources and layered with rock and pop influences.

Canadian bassist Chris Jennings and Moroccan percussionist Rhani Krija bring experience and diversity to the sound of the trio. The music is urgent, bustling, driven by exciting rhythm patterns and overlaid with Lê developing his themes on guitar and synths.

Adding to the variety of the musical landscape, the core trio is joined by Sylvian Barou, Miron Rafajlovic and Etienne Mbappé on a couple of tracks, with Mbappé contributing a fine bass solo on Baraka.

Silk And Sand represents something of a return to musical roots for Nguyên Lê as he recalls influences from earlier albums. This is sometimes quieter, more jazz-driven music than that in some of his wider ventures into global fusion and rock of recent times. The energy and wide-ranging influences can still be heard, but there is discipline and reflection here as well.

Supplementing a range of musical influences, Lê seems to be drawing together a sense of past and present with, characteristically, an eye on where this all might lead him next.

Red City; Silk & Sand; Onety-One; Moonstone; The Waters of Ortigia; Baraka; Thar Desert Dawn; Tiger’s Dance; Becoming Water (48.36)
Lê (g, syn,v); Chris Jennings (b); Rhani Krija (pc, v, gumbri); Sylvain Barou (bansuri f, duduk); Miron Rafajlovic (t, flh); Etienne Mbappé (elb). Cologne, 16-19 October 2022.
ACT 9967-2