Home Read Classic Album Review: Cuong Vu | Pure

Classic Album Review: Cuong Vu | Pure

The trumpeter blazes a new trail on these six exploratory and meditative tracks.

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This album came out two decades ago. Here’s what I had to say about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


At first blush, Vietnamese trumpet player Cuong Vu’s album title seems half-finished — Pure Miles would appear to be more fitting.

Vu’s clean, vibrato-free tone, lyrical style, preference for the horn’s midrange tones and his ability to switch gears instantly from crystal-clear melody to strangulated gurgles and rasps all are eerily evocative of the late jazz legend’s late ’70s and ’80s albums. But Vu is no Miles copycat. Give him a chance and slowly, slyly, you’ll notice how he breaks away from Miles’ path to blaze a new trail on these six exploratory and meditative tracks. Leading his trio through a landscape of ambient textures and hypnotically repetitive rhythms, Vu combines his considerable natural ability with unnatural effects like echo and reverb to weave bleakly beautiful melodies into slowly swinging sails of sound. His sound and style may not be solely his own, but what Vu does with them is just shy of pure genius.