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Renaud Garcia-Fons brings a rare passion and understanding to the bass. His approach is pure genius, seen in the way he styles his pizzicato and in the manner he opens the arco to encompass melodic and improvisatory richness.
Garcia-Fons began playing the bass when he was 16, gravitating to the instrument from the guitar and piano. At first he approached it without a real idea of its functions and possibilities. That changed when he heard Francois Rabbath and his music. Rabbath had conceived a central role for the bass which led Garcia-Fons to look at the instrument in a new light. What he saw were immense possibilities. He added a fifth string at the high end of the bass. This brought him closer to the music he wanted to play. And that music is revealed in all of its splendour and dimension on Arcoluz, a CD/DVD set from a concert he performed with Kiko Ruiz (flamenco guitar) and Negrito Trasante (drums and percussion) at the Schloss Elmau in Germany.
The trio sets the tone with the short but tantalizing title track, before moving into the flamenco domain of "Berimbass." Ruiz lets the enticing melody glow and fall in a delicate shower, but Garcia-Fons opens the pulse through pizzicato before bowing in and injecting a deep yet flighty resonance. Trasante is up front with Ruiz but lays back when the bass is in motion. His points of reference are intuitive.
"Entremundo" is one of the high marks of the concert. The trio is deeply focused as they feed off each other's impulses and open new vistas of discovery. Once again, the melody is catchy and, as Garcia-Fons sets it on a journey of manifestation; he makes the high end string the mainspring of his adventure. And then in a neat switch he moves into an Indian classical music beat which is not surprising given that he has studied the veena, an instrument used in Carnatic music. From then on the pulse changes, Ruiz reinvents the melody and the conversation between the trio is marked by heady interlocutions and warm ensemble passages. As for Trasante, his percussion and his drums are loquacious and add to the flow without being intrusive.
The trio has developed an innate understanding over the time they have been together. As told in the interviews on the DVD, it was a process that grew over three years. What at first was a musical collaboration, turned into friendship. The rapport is seen in their ease of communication and in the way they raise the music to a new high.
The making of the DVD, with interviews of all three musicians runs 85 minutes. While recorded in stereo, if you have rear speakers the experience of listening to the trio becomes all the richer.
Track Listing: Arcoluz; Berimbass; Anda Loco; 40 Dias; Gitanet; Entremundo; Entre Continentes.
Personnel: Renaud Garcia-Fons: five string double bass; Kiko Ruiz: flamenco guitar; Negrito Trasante: drums and percussion.