East Wind Records (TIRI-87)
East Wind Records
By David Schultz
Tinh (pronounced "Dun") has lived a rich life. Born in a rural Vietnamese village, Tinh and his younger sister lived with his grandmother while his mother traveled the country during the war. Tinh's mother married an American in the State Department and the CIA airlifted his family out of Vietnam three days before the fall of Saigon. They lived in Islamabad for four years, then Manila, Phillipines.
Tinh then moved to Salem Oregon where he studied classical guitar under harp guitarist John Doan at Willamette University. Asked to open a concert for the legendary John Fahey, the two quickly became good friends, swapping songs and listening to music in Fahey's basement. The friendship led to Fahey producing Tinh's first album My Vietnamese Suite and Tinh producing Fahey's I Remember Blind Joe Death in 1987.
Tinh and his wife started a successful landscaping business in Oregon. Throughout this time, he continued to make music, but not return to the studio. The death of Fahey on February 22, 2001 lead to Tinh going back to the studio to record his second album Acoustic Rain, produced by longtime friend and Windham Hill pianist George Winston.
Like his first album, much of Acoustic Rain focuses on Tinh's Vietnamese heritage and the impact of war on Vietnam as well as America. That the album contains only solo acoustic guitar is quite impressive. There are times when you're tempted to hear more than one instrument, but there is only Tinh's six string.
Despite Tinh's Asian background, much of the album sounds like traditional acoustic guitar music. The technique and complexity of the music is exceptional, some of the finest I've heard.
The album opens with We're Still Soldiers about the uncelebrated return of Vietnam veterans to America. Butterflies in a Pagoda puts Tinh in the position of a peaceful butterfly in a Buddhist temple with war just outside. Both the western and eastern influences can be heard in "Islamabad." Lots of strumming, building up to a frantic pace by the end of the song. "1968" is about the Tet Offensive, and the Asian chord progressions are apparent.
I Remember John Fahey is an melodic piece that Fahey offered Tinh in its incomplete form around 1987. After his death, Tinh dusted it off and finished this pleasant rambling tune.
The album closes with Tinh's version of Star Bangled Banner "to pay tribute to the peace, love, and war of the hippie generation." It is a gentle quiet piece and fits seemlessly with the rest of the album.
This is a listenable album that will remain in my CD player at home for when I want mellow, but quality, mood music. Closing my eyes and listening to the incredible talent and the pristine sound quality of the album is quite an amazing experience.Edited by David N. Pyles (firstname.lastname@example.org)