Over the year, I had been to a number of Vietnamese concerts in Virginia and all of them disappointed me. Singers sounded like they came to do their job and the bands lacked passion and imagination. The only concert that still stood out to me was Thu Phuong in Toronto I went to two years ago. What was so great about that night was that Thu Phuong owned the stage, even though she was accompanied by the Canadian jazz band. She didn’t sing jazz, but the jazzy vibes appealed to the mass audience. My brother-in-law and his friend loved the show even though they are not jazz freaks.
So if I have it my way, I would love to bring that experience to Virginia and also heighten it up a notch by giving the musicians more freedom to improvise. The GW’s faculty quartet would be a perfect band to accompany as well as to improvise. The pianist has some Monk’s chops and classical licks. The drummer is from Latin America who could kick some real nice bossa nova rhythm. The bassist could walk and talk like Ron Carter. The saxophonist has some of Coltrane’s influence. I would also throw in a student trumpeter who blew down the house at every jam session.
So if I have an opportunity to organize a concert, I would invite Thu Phuong to kick off the first show. She could attract both the popular audience as well as the aficionados. I have Tung Duong in mind too, but he is too way out there for the first concert. The show would feature only 10 to 15 tunes and I would limit to just Trinh Cong Son’s songbook. To keep the concert spontaneous, Thu Phuong can only meet with the band once to make sure everyone is on the same keys. She would not have to sing jazz. She would start off with the first verse and let the band take over to improvise. She would then return to take the tune out.
Yes, I do recognize that it is easier said than done, but I hope someday we can do it even though I have no experience in organizing a show. Is it feasible to do? How many of you would come to a concert like this?