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Nguyen Le Trio: Bakida

Every instrument on Nguyen Le’s Bakida (ACT/HighNote) sounds absolutely huge. This is “world fusion” that in fact transcends all categories. Hair-raising in its impact, it is nonetheless undertaken with a great deal of nuance. The French-Vietnamese leader and his trio partners (Renaud Garcia-Fons on acoustic five-string bass, Tino di Geraldo on drums/percussion) are the most formidable of virtuosos, and they interact with an international cast of guests, including tenorist Chris Potter, electric bassist Carles Benavent of Spain, trumpeter Paolo Fresu of Italy and pianist Jon Balke of Norway. Le’s fierce solidbody work meshes with the hypnotic sound of ney flute, gumbri, marimba, tuned gongs and more, and never do these things sound gimmicky or superficial. The writing (mostly Le’s) is rich in harmonic and rhythmic detail; highlights include the mountainous guitar solo of “Dding Dek,” the two-bass improv of “Encanto,” the furious exchanges of Potter and Le on “Chinoir” and the astounding arco bass on “Noche y Luz.” To hear a recording produced this well is rare. The only drag is that U.S. listeners had to wait four years for it.

Originally Published