Trān Manh Tuān was born in Hanoi into a family of stage performers. His father, mother, and sister perform traditional "Cai Luong" (The Renovated Theater), a theatrical art created in South Vietnam based on song and dance. Tuān began playing saxophone in 1979 and was the first Vietnamese musician to receive a scholarship from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He formed Orient Band in 1991, which won the gold medal in a national music competition, earning Tuān the title of "Best Saxophonist in Vietnam." His first solo concert was in 1993 at the Opera House in Hanoi, where he performed before an audience of 700.
Tuān has released eight solo CDs during his career and has collaborated with many well-known Vietnamese singers. His tours have taken him to Europe, Russia, China, Thailand, Singapore, and the United States. He has performed with numerous musicians, including saxophonists Hans Dulfer and Fulvio Albano, drummer Alfred Simms-Protz, pianists Rob Mullins, Mike Del Frerro and John Ferguson, and singers Stephan Echer, Co Co York, and Jennifer Ryan. Most recently, he performed with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.
In 1999 he received the "Best Teacher of the Year" award from both the Music College of Hanoi and the Army College of Music. He has also taught at the Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory of Music, working as a composer, producer, arranger, and saxophonist.
While Tuān is considered a leader of the Vietnamese jazz movement, his favorite music combines traditional Vietnamese music with contemporary music. His latest albums, Drifting Blossoms, Floating Clouds and Body & Soul, were released in 2008.