Exaltatio Utriesque Mundi
Frédéric Blondy and Lê Quan Ninh | Exaltatio Utriesque Mundi


For the longest time, Lê Quan Ninh has held a place as my favourite percussionist. Ever since his days with Idiome 1238 (whose concerts were an absolute blast!) and his involvement with the new music ensemble Quatuor Helios (whose concerts were less of a blast, but maintained an interesting edge to them), he's been convincingly good to great. His recent show at the Guelph Jazz Festival turned out to be a festival highlight. On-going involvement with improvising musicians (everyone from Michel Doneda, Günter Müller, Daunik Lazro, Mari Kimura, Paul Rogers, Butch Morris, Kazue Sawai to Dominique Regef) makes him ideal as the percussionist of choice. This doesn't mean that he is everyone’s ideal, but his far reaching sense of the learned application of percussion makes him a definite asset.

Lê Quan Ninh’s best work is heard in small ensembles though in a powerhouse group like Idiome 1238 and in Butch Morris' ensembles, he was still a force to be reckoned with. His duet with pianist Frédéric Blondy is another example of his fine style. Though he is in full prowess on this recording, he never comes across as an over-powering individual. In fact, he is more keenly listening for cues given off from Blondy than in pursuing a selfish timetable for himself. Blondy is an articulate player himself, choosing to stick to striking single keys at a time, rather than creating a full onslaught. Ninh responds in turn with vibrant scrapes against a cymbal and some mallet work on his tom-tom. His metallic percussion work is still heard up front. The sections I like best are ones where Blondy is busy concentrating on the inside of the piano (mostly striking the strings and sides of the piano), while Ninh strikes up a medium-tempo storm with his bare hands on the skins. Many open spaces are left behind to allow the listener to recoup and listen with extreme care. Both players have perfected the art of listening with intimate care and share a common language which only these two understand.

Tom Sekowski – December 2006

The Musicians
Frédéric Blondy – piano
Lê Quan Ninh – percussion
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tom Sekowski
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