Renaud Garcia-Fons (born December 24, 1962) is a highly accomplished French upright-bass player and composer.
Garcia-Fons started his musical studies at an early age. At five years old he picked up playing the piano, switched to classical guitar at eight, then turned to rock in his teens, and finally settling for the upright bass when he was 16. He got formal musical training at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he studied with François Rabbath, who taught him his special technique of playing arco.
Garcia-Fons is known for his melodic sense and his viola-like col arco sound; he is sometimes referred to as “the Paganini of double bass.” Garcia-Fons has been deeply influenced by his mentor, the bassist François Rabbath.
He started playing jazz with the band of trumpeter Roger Guérin, and thereafter had many collaborators, including symphony orchestras, jazz groups, and a trio. In 1987-93, he was part of the French all-double bass ensemble ‘L’Orchestre de Contrebasses’. He remained with them for six years, also appearing with the ‘Orchestre National de Jazz’ directed by Claude Barthélemy during some of this time. Enja Records released his debut solo album Légendes (1992). Alboreá (1995) was his next album release, featuring his quartet including Jean-Louis Matinier (accordion), Jacques Mahieux (drums), and Yves Torchinsky (bass).
His third album, 1998’s Oriental Bass, featured his own compositions and was well received in the press. Next he combined with accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier on the album Fuera (1999). On many occasions he is accompanied by a variety of instruments, including guitar, lute, derbouka, flutes, trombone, and accordion. Garcia-Fons has collaborated with jazz musicians like Jean-Louis Matinier, Michael Riessler, Sylvain Luc, Nguyên Lê, and Michel Godard, and contributed to recordings of Gerardo Núñez and to Middle Eastern players such as Kudsi Erguner, Dhafer Youssef, and Cheb Mami. (wikipedia)
« The one and thousand voices of the double bass »
The whole album is made with double bass, if some pieces are written for the instrument alone, the loops in others allows a real multiplication of the instrument.
These loops were recorded with sounds made only with the double bass: percussion, harmonics, voicings, pizzicatti… A real evolutionary orchestration!
The inspiration travels from east to west and from ancient music to contemporary music : medieval (Marcevol) ; barocco (Hacía Compostela) ; eastern (Voyage à Jeyhounabad) ; african (Kalimbass) ; latino (Yupanqui) ; rock, blues (Rock Wandering) ; spanish (Bajo Flamenco)…
Renaud makes his dream comes true : playing with the double bass a universal instrument, a real orchestra on his own, exploring all technics from bow to pizzicatto
Music is a matter of vibrations, Renaud found at “Prieure de Marcevol” (France) the ideal place to record with its well balanced sound and just eough natural reverberation, suitable to get the spiritual and festive inspiration
As Renaud says it, it’s an invitation to “an imaginary travel with a double bass through space and time.” (press release)
In the hands of even the most accomplished professionals, the bass is but a single instrument which happens to serve a few purposes; in the hands of Renaud Garcia-Fons, the bass is a world unto itself. On Solo: The Marcevol Concert, Garcia-Fons demonstrates his singular approach to the instrument on a program of music that’s both worldly and wondrous. Andalusian allusions, African accents, Eastern spices, Middle Eastern ideals and more merge in the hands of this beyond category virtuoso.
Plenty of people have marveled at Garcia-Fons’ work in various settings like guitarist Nguyen Le’s trio, his own trio with flamenco guitarist Antonio “Kiko” Ruiz and percussionist Pascal Rollando, and/or the duo with guitarist Sylvain Luc, but this album highlights the fact that he needs no collaborators to make his bones in the music world. In fact, hearing and seeing him all by his lonesome may be the best way to experience the one man show that is Renaud Garcia-Fons. Extended and extensive technique(s) allow Garcia-Fons to conjure the likeness of the violin, oud, berimbau, cello, cajon, kalimba and more.
In September of 2011 Garcia-Fons set up shop for two days at Prieuré de Marcevol in Pyrénées Orientales, France and put on a solo display that redefines the very notion of solo playing; he’s the only person performing here—true to the nature of the word “solo”—but he conjures all manner of multiple sounds with his hands and bow while triggering pre-recorded accompaniment and loops with foot pedals. Hearing it on CD is impressive, but seeing it on the accompanying DVD is something else. The DVD portion of CD/DVD packages are often viewed as superfluous, but the reverse may be true here.
From the opening “Palermo Notturno,” which finds the man of the hour mixing Spanish and Eastern sounds and tapping away on the body of his bass, to “Kalimbass,” which has the bassist imitating a kalimba by placing paper beneath the strings, Garcia-Fons finds a way to bridge gaps between artistic realms. Elsewhere, he lets the pure sound of his instrument ring through (“Marcevol”) and delivers whistling tones that soar (“Voyage A Jeyhounabad”). Garcia-Fons wears his virtuosity on his sleeve at all times, but he never uses it for vein and empty displays of might; his technique serves the songs and the songs serve as a reminder that the art of solo playing is only limited by the imagination. Garcia-Fons’ Solo: The Marcevol Concert is a marvelously original amalgamation of classical, jazz and world music. (by Dan Bilawsky)
Renaud Garcia-Fons (bass, loops)
01. Palermo Notturno 6.25
02. Hacía Compostela 6.08
03. Kalimbass 5.54
04. Marcevol 6.23
05. Bajo De Guía (Bulería) 6.40
06. Voyage À Jeyhounabad (Inspired By Ostad Elahi Sheikh Amiri’s Style) 5.54
07. Yupanqui (Dedicated To Atahualpa Yupanqui) 4.49
08. Kurdish Mood 3.02
09. Pilgrim 4.10
10. Rock Wandering 3.02
11. Far Ballad 3.43
Music composed by Renaud Garcia-Fons