<!-- missing image http://blogs.kcrw.com/music/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Nguyen-Le-300x199.jpg -->Nguyen Lê, a French-born and Paris-based musician of Vietnamese ancestry, has just done an album of cover versions of 60s and 70s rock classics that would do Jacques Derrida proud. Derrida, in case you hadn’t heard, was the über-deconstructionist who took apart aesthetics and philosophy during the 1970s and helped do away with structuralism, the other French “ism” that followed the existentialism of the 40s and 50s. What is it about all these French “isms” anyway?
Back to our subject: Lê is a mean guitarist who is up there with John Scofield, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Metheny, and Brazilian Marco Perreira. While he plays with the likes of Peter Erskine, the late Michael Brecker, Me’shell Ndegeocello, and Terri Lynne Carrington, he sets himself apart by working with top world musicians based in Paris such as Tunisian oud player Dhafer Youssef, The Barbès Strings, trumpeter Paolo Fresu and others. He also makes his guitar sound like the dan bau, the traditional one-string zither-like Vietnamese instrument.
On Songs of Freedom Lê tackles Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”, Janis Joplin’s “Move Over”, and a dreamy version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. His covers of these anthemic songs are both inventive and reverential. Even though you’ve heard these songs a thousand times, this new cd makes you want to go back and listen all over again.