Smooth Sax

Xuan Hieu’s Tinh Nghe Si makes a fabulous hot tube album. Something smooth for your ass. His instrumental (saxophone) interpretation of Vietnamese ballads, including “Mong Duoi Hoa,” “Gio Gio Cho May Ngan Bay,” “Xom Dem,” and “Thu Quyen Ru,” is in the same camp of Kenny G’s jazz playing: wimped-out, soul-deadening, mechanical, and vulgar. The passiveness in Xuan Hieu’s sax sound, particularly in “Ta Ao Xanh” and “Chuyen Ben,” puts people straight to the bed, but not with each other. What makes the album so lame is the lack of improvisation and personal expression. You could sing along with the sax lines like karaoke if you know the lyrics. Yet, why would you want to follow an arrangement with a lethargic rhythm section?