Don Ho Sings Trinh Cong Son

Before Trinh Cong Son’s music being molested, there were a few artful Trinh’s songbooks. Don Ho’s Ha Trang is one of them. Although the album released three years ago, it still sounds much fresher than the new ones out there now, thanks to trackmaster Dong Son for laying down crisp, imaginative productions. With a blend of organic vibe and electric flavor, Dong Son and his soundmen (Dustin Ngo on piano, Gary Garriton on harp, Le Ngoc on acoustic guitar, and Vu Anh Tuan on saxophone) blow new grooves into Trinh’s composition. Don’s rendition of “Dem Thay Ta La Thac Do” is still the most innovative reconstruction so far. While he gives the lyrics a light touch, his voice flow like water cascading down the waterfall-sounding arrangement. In “Xin Tra No Nguoi,” he maintains the buoyancy in his delivery to allow the trance-fused beat to do the renovation of the aged tune. The best part of the club-friendly “Nghe Nhung Tan Phai” is when Dustin Ngo breaks down his short but hypnotizing piano solo, like Chick Corea is in the house. Even though not every track is as successful as I would hope, Ha Trang, which is way underrated, still has its creative moment that deserves the recognition.