475

Bona Makes You Sweat: Ricard Bona at Le Bataclan, Paris

By

Sign in to view read count
Richard Bona
Bataclan
Paris, France
November 21, 2009

"On va bien s'amuser ce soir." Those were Richard Bona's opening words at the Bataclan, and he and his band did not disappoint. Lots of fun was had by all in attendance. From a critical standpoint, however, one had to wonder if the music was really the focus of the evening.

Bona is an absolute monster on the bass. Many in the jazz world are aware of his status as the inheritor of Jaco Pastorius' throne. Yet, as written in this review of his latest CD, Ten Shades of Blues (2009, Wrasse Records), his excellent solo work has gone underappreciated. But the meticulous work that this multi-talented artist does in the studio does not translate nearly as well to the stage. Especially the material from Ten Shades of Blues.

Paris is like a second home for Bona, and he is always well-received here. Throughout the evening, he was as animated as ever, urging the crowd to sing along and dance. The crowd as well was in good spirits, bantering back and forth with the bassist and obeying his every command. The crowd even acquitted itself well when asked to provide vocal backing, such as on songs like "M'Bemba Mama," "O Sen Sen Sen" and others.

What was the show missing, then? Quite simply, musicianship. Surprising, given the above praise for Bona's bass playing (without even mentioning his immensely creative vocal stylings), but certainly that was the case on this night. Some of the fault was in the song selection. Tunes like "M'Bemba Mama," a beautifully understated ballad in the studio with superb guitar playing from Sylvain Luc, and "Shiva Mantra," dominated in the studio by Indian musicians, did not adapt well to a live environment. At other times, the arrangements did not allow for much improvisation and thus sounded somewhat stale.

When the musicians were able to stretch out, however, some significant highs were reached. Bona's talents are best shown when he is improvising, when his facility with both his voice and the bass are on full display alongside his playfulness and effervescence of personality. In succession, a fully improvised duet with his guitarist and a layered vocal morsel in the tradition of his native Cameroon kept the crowd in rapt attention. In addition, a cover of a Jaco Pastorius composition was lively and upbeat, with references thrown in to Weather Report's "Birdland," Miles Davis' "Jean Pierre," and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." Fans looking for an extension of Bona's work in the jazz realm of the music of Pat Metheny, Joe Zawinul and Mike Stern would do best to stay away from his live shows. Those who know what to expect will be treated to an enjoyable evening punctuated by moments of greatness.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Diane Schuur at Birdland Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Live Reviews Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom" Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017" Live Reviews Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Bob Niederitter Trio At The Bop Stop" Live Reviews Bob Niederitter Trio At The Bop Stop
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 9, 2017
Read "T.S. Monk Sextet at Revolution Hall" Live Reviews T.S. Monk Sextet at Revolution Hall
by Tom Borden and Eric Gibbons
Published: March 10, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor