Jan 25 2012
Quyen Van Minh is Vietnam‘s best-known jazz saxophonist, having fallen in love with the music some 30 years ago and developing his own style of Vietnamese jazz. Now he teaches young musicians at the Hanoi Conservatory and runs a popular jazz club in Hanoi.
For years, Minh’s Jazz Club was on Luong Van Can Street in the centre of Old Quarter, then in 2010 it relocated briefly to Truc Bach Lake before moving to its current location on Quan Su, above the Hot Life Cafe.
The venue has exactly the feel and atmosphere I expect from a jazz club: lighting is primarily by candles (though that makes reading the menu a bit of a challenge), walls are painted red, its name — Binh Minh’s Jazz Club — is highlighted in neon behind the stage and the audience lounges in armchairs, chatting softly.
Minh plays almost every night at the Club and on the night we attended his son, Dac, also played. We arrived in time for the second set — there’s music from 21:00 until 23:30 — which Minh kicked off with a couple of soft Vietnamese jazz pieces, bringing one of his young clarinet students on stage for part of the set. There’s no denying his talent, but simply due to personal preference, we were much more impressed by the set his son followed with: I’m no jazz expert so excuse my terminology, but it was more upbeat with some absolutely amazing riffs — how he managed to breathe I don’t know.
The evening ended with Minh joining the other two saxophonists on stage for some improvisation.
There’s no entry fee but drinks are pricey to compensate: a small Tiger beer is 69,000 VND and a cocktail 99,000 VND. It’s a bit of a walk from Old Quarter but do-able, otherwise it won’t cost too much in a taxi.
Minh often performs elsewhere in Hanoi and Vietnam, so keep an eye on the venue’s website if you’re interested.
Minh’s Jazz Club
65 Quan Su, 3rd Floor, Hoàn Kiem District
T: (04) 3942 0400
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