Paris By Night 78: Duong Xua

One of Thuy Nga’s recurring programs is introducing Vietnamese songwriters. Paris By Night 78: Duong Xua featured songbooks of Quoc Dung, Chau Ky and Tung Giang whose works have been covered numerous times. Yet, Thuy Nga’s producers and arrangers have crafted new sounds and chosen right voices (most of the time) to give these dated songs new flavors.

Khanh Ha starts off the show with a fresh rendition of Quoc Dung’s “Chi La Mua Thu Roi.” If there were a fire, the dancers and Khanh Ha would be roasted in those weird outfits that were made out of magazines. Quoc Dung is a passable singer. His duet with Thanh Mai on the medley (“Que Huong va Mong Uoc,” “Bien Mong” and “Ben Nhau Ngay Vui”) brings us back to three decades ago when the two sang together in Sai Gon. Then Luu Bich and the musicians give “Hat Mua va Noi Nho” a new vibe by injecting bosa nova into Quoc Dung’s pop tune (mad props to the horns blowers). The most astonishing part of Quoc Dung’s portion is the combining of “Con Gio Thoang” and “Trai Tim Toi Loi.” Bang Kieu and Thanh Ha have done an outstanding vocal job, but what makes the performance indelible is Vuong Huong’s profound piano presentation. Her solo is unbelievable. Every finger she drops releases emotion (Don’t believe me? Check out her rendition of Trinh Cong Son’s “Bien Nho,” via Song Vinh). On the flip side, Manh Quynh could not express “Chuyen Ba Nguoi” to its fullest, and Ho Le Thu bares her skin instead of soul on “Chin Con So, Mot Linh Hon.”

Chau Ky’s part of the show is for the older generation. Che Linh gives a flawless recovering of “Tuy Ca,” a song that once made him popular. He maybe aged, but his voice is ageless (it must be the liquor that clears his throat). Phuong Hong Que and Mai Truc provide a savory medley on Chau Ky’s standards: “Khuya Nay Anh Di Roi,” “Em Khong Buon Nua Chi Oi,” “Giot Le Dai Trang” (the story behind this song is intriguing. Too bad, Nguyen Ngoc Ngan cuts him off) and “Dung Noi Xa Nhau.” Like Che Linh, Hoang Oanh’s vocal is yet to be matched on “Sau Chua Thay Hoi Am.” If Thuy Nga could invite Thanh Thuy for an encore on “Tieng Ca Do Ve Dau,” it would have made a deeper impact. Truong Vu does a fantastic job, but “TCDVD” is a Thanh Thuy’s signiture.

Tung Giang’s section shifts back to the younger audience. Duong Trieu Vu’s rhythmless two-step is less than convincing on “Biet Den Thuo Nao.” Nhu Quynh’s stilted flow screws up “Anh Da Quen Mua Thu.” Putting Nhu Quynh with Luu Bich and Khanh Ha, what were they thinking? It’s like country meets pop and jazz. Tran Thu Ha would have been a better choice. In fact, Khanh Ha, Tran Thu Ha and Thanh Ha would make a great trio. They can call themselves “Ha Ba Sac” (Three Ha’s Colors). Each brings a unique hue to the palette. Strongest from Tung Giang’s set is Tran Thu Ha’s pop-jazz “Toi Voi Troi Bo Vo.” Her version is both unique and creative. She has her chops down to the ground, and Thuy Nga is smart for allowing her to do her things. She brings a new group of audience that Thuy Nga never had. Thuy Tien then wraps up the show with the bouncy “Nguoi Tinh Nguoi Dep Xinh Xinh.” The song is perfect for her because she is a doll. She has always appeared to be cute with her baby face, but the make-up gives her a more matured look this time, which is very attractive.

Thuy Nga has toned down the sexy appearances for Paris By Night 78, and focused more on the musical productions. Now that’s what I am looking for. Does that mean Thuy Nga has read my previous review? I doubt it, but at least we are on the same page on this well-crafted video.