Vietnamese Jazz Group Đàn Đó at Mackintosh Church for Glasgow Jazz Festival 2024 ©

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society

Friday 21 June 2024

A unique combo of Vietnamese jazz and Scottish folk music took to the this week at the Glasgow Jazz Festival - the culmination of a boundary-breaking exchange programme between artists from the two nations.

In a collaboration between Fèis Rois, Glasgow Jazz Festival, and the British Council, the acclaimed Vietnamese indigenous jazz band Đàn Đó and saxophonist Quyền Thiện Đắc have spent a week in the Highlands with renowned Scottish musicians Whistle player Ali Levack, percussionist Tom Bancroft, James Mackay on the guitar, and saxophonist Sue McKenzie.

As part of the residency, the musicians performed together at the Black Isle and in Ullapool, giving audiences in the Highlands a chance to hear a new sound blending Vietnamese folk melodies with Scottish traditional music and jazz improvisation.

Đàn Đó, an interdisciplinary creative group from Vietnam, finds inspiration in local materials like bamboo and clay to craft their own instruments. Established in 2012, the four members explore the narrative potential of bamboo, using it as an instrument, prop, and character in their performances, compositions, and stage productions.

The creative challenge of blending instruments and sounds was embraced by all the musicians during the residency as they travelled within Scotland and found surprising parallels between the musical traditions of the two countries. They shared perspectives on preserving heritage, language, and traditional music-making methods, even visiting instrument makers in Glasgow and the National Piping Centre.

"Uniting our instruments and melodies with Scottish music has been an incredible journey of understanding," said Nguyễn Đức Minh of Đàn Đó. "We're grateful to now share this music with Glasgow."

Whistle player Ali Levack, the 2020 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year added. "We've found loads of musical common ground. Sometimes you can’t speak to each other with words, but you can through music".

Percussionist Tom Bancroft, who previously played with Đàn Đó in Vietnam in 2019, spoke about improvising with the band again: "It's like having a conversation with a friend - you start talking, listening, and responding in the moment”. He added “It’s an incredible thing going around the world as a musician, and Vietnam is just about the other side of the world, it was massive to go there and improvise with the group.

“Despite the distance between Scotland and Vietnam, we found real similarities in the sounds and even our instruments. This week back in Scotland, our compositions have come alive in new ways as we brought our tunes together, each instrument contributing its own voice."

The musicians took to the stage at the Mackintosh Church for Glasgow Jazz Festival, in the culmination of a 5-year long musical exchange programme tracing the story of artistic collaboration and musical journeys through different highland cultures. Sparked by a British Council visit from Vietnam to Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival in 2019, links between artists in the two countries have since developed with visits between the two countries.

"This project represents the cutting-edge of where jazz and folk music can go when you cross through cultural boundaries," said Jill Rodger, Director of Glasgow International Jazz Festival. "The sounds from this Vietnamese-Scottish collaboration are like nothing our audiences have heard before."

"Providing a space for these artists to share their musical languages and cultures is at the heart of our work," said Fiona Dalgetty, Chief Executive of Fèis Rois. "We’ve had a brilliant week and the music that has developed through the exchange is really exciting”.

Norah Campbell, Head of Arts, British Council Scotland says about the collaboration: “Fostering international connections between Scotland and the globe drives our work, and building links with Vietnam has been a highlight over the last five years. It is wonderful to see these connections develop. What a fantastic opportunity for the musicians to showcase at Fèis Rois and here at the Glasgow Jazz festival, both key platforms for sharing Scotland’s creativity with the world.”

Notes to Editor

About Fèis Rois
Fèis Rois enable people of all ages to access, participate in and enjoy the traditional arts and Gaelic language through a diverse programme of activities in Ross & Cromarty, across Scotland and beyond.
Based in Dingwall, Fèis Rois is widely recognised as a national leader in the arts, particularly in music education and was established in 1986. 
There are now more than 40 fèisean in communities across Scotland. However, Fèis Rois is unique within the fèisean movement as it has a team of full-time staff that enable the work of Fèis Rois to take place year-round and extend well beyond the local community.

About Creative Scotland
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports culture and creativity across all parts of Scotland, distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at

About the British Council

 The British Council is the UK’s organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. It supports peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2022-23 we reached 600 million people.