Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Noted jazz saxophonist and musician Quyền Văn Minh will host a jazz night on October 27 at the Ha Noi Opera House to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his jazz club in the city and the 50th anniversary of his engagement with jazz.
The show will feature 20 pieces by both foreign and Vietnamese composers and a Big Band of 50 sax players. The musicians will include Hồng Kiên, Bảo Long, Hùng Sơm, Bùi Xuân Hòa and Nguyễn Hoàng An together with singers Diệu Thúy and Thanh Thảo.
Though the show bears Quyền Văn Minh’s name, he will only play in three pieces. The show is in many respects a changing of the guard.
"I want young musicians to gradually take over my key role and bring to the show lots of colours and styles to display a present-day jazz movement in Việt Nam rather than to introduce a single artist," he said. "The show will have an important meaning in changing from veteran jazz artists to young, contemporary artists and even junior artists like Tuệ Anh (9 years old), Bảo Lâm (11) and Minh Phú (13)."
Minh, 63, will eventually turn over the baton to his son. “My son Quyền Thiện Đắc will act as the new captain of the club with knowledge from the US and Sweden combined with his performing experience in Việt Nam,” he said.
Self taught: Jazz saxophonist Quyền Văn Minh play on stage. — VNS File Photos
Minh was born to a musical family. His father was a guitar player, his mother a singer. He said he fell in love with jazz when he heard a jazz piece on the radio. “At 14, hearing the first jazz piece, I swore to myself that I would play this kind of music,” he recalled, “I have kept my pledge. Since 1968, I have spent all my time and energy in jazz.”
He first played guitar, then taught himself the sax and music theory, becoming the first artist to bring jazz to Ha Noi. He also initiated saxophone instruction at the Việt Nam Music Academy in 1989.
After 50 years, Minh is most proud of his efforts to play Vietnamese folk music in jazz style. “I use western instruments, combining jazz to perform beautiful melodies,” he said, “In terms of jazz, Việt Nam is deacdes behind other countries,” he said,
Minh said he gradually introduced jazz to Vietnamese audiences and now more Vietnamese than westerners come to his club. “I hope my son, Đắc, can manage to play two hours at the club every day,” he said. “Half of the time international classical pieces and the rest of the time for folk pieces.”
Minh said he would continue to play jazz to his last breath. “I want to popularise jazz,” he said. “People who want to listen to jazz don’t have to spend too much money, just buy a cup of coffee. Before I die, I will just ask my son whether the jazz club is still running. If he says ‘yes’ I will feel free to close my eyes.” — VNS