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.
In his musical journey to meet world music, Renaud Garcia-Fons is interested in oriental music and more particularly that of the master of Iranian lute tanbur Ostad Elahi, including finding a source of inspiration for his compositions such as Hommage à Ostad (CD Oriental Bass) and Voyage à Jeyhounabad ( CD / DVD SOLO The Marcevol Concert). His interest in this music leads him in 2019 to participate, at the invitation of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in a tribute concert organized as an extension of the exhibition: the sacred lute, the art of Ostad Elahi (2014-2015).
In addition to his career as a soloist, Renaud Garcia-Fons has been developing composition work for several years. He writes various pieces for String Quartet at the initiative of France Musique for the program Alla Breve. He creates for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the ‘Ensemble de Basse-Normandie’ Mundus Imaginalis. He is part of the credits for the France Culture program Les Racines du Ciel. On the international scene, he regularly plays with his various groups in the biggest Jazz Festivals. In July 2009, the Montreal International Jazz Festival invited him for a White Card of 3 concerts.
Fruit of a collaboration of several years with the lutenist Claire Antonini, he publishes in 2019 the duet album Farangi , from the Baroque to the Orient. (wikipedia)
Some records are instantly captivating, with an ambience that immediately draws the listener in. Others require more attention, revealing layers of reward with each successive listen. The best records do both. Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons has managed with his latest disc, Entremundo , to create one of those rare recordings whose first spin compels the listener to play it again and again, revealing richer substance each time.
That Garcia-Fons has been called “the Paganini of the double bass” is no surprise. One listen to the closing piece, the solo “Aqâ Jân,” and the breadth of his capabilities is clearly evident. With his five-string double-bass giving him access to the range of a cello in addition to the deeper resonance of the traditional instrument, Garcia-Fons’ virtuosity is remarkable. From percussive pizzicato to sweeping arco, his ability to coax distinct and unusual sonorities from his instrument is uncanny.
And while Garcia-Fons’ technical skill is evident from the first note of “Sueño Vivo,” which opens the album, he is equally matched by his trio mates, percussionist Jorge “Negrito” Trasante and flamenco guitarist Antonio Ruiz “Kiko.” Yet, for all their formidable abilities, Entremundo is never about needless pyrotechnical demonstration. From the light and airy folk sound of “Cristobal” to the lush classical leanings of the title track, Garcia-Fons and his trio, supplemented by a variety of musical guests on various tracks, are never less than lyrical and transcend being mere players.
Entremundo means “Between Worlds,” and while the majority of the record has a strong flamenco flavour that will appeal to fans of, for example, Strunz and Farah, it’s distinguished by a breadth of world view. There are elements of Middle Eastern harmonies, Oriental lines and Latin American rhythms amidst the Andalusian themes of “40 Dias,” the brief and dark “Doust,” and “Sarebân,” which blends in an Indian-inflected theme.
Garcia-Fons states that the intention of the record is to be celebratory, and there is, to be sure, a vivacious joy to be found throughout. Passion runs wild, with Garcia-Fons leading the way with his vibrant and emotive playing. Few bassists straddle the line between being a supporting rhythm section instrument and a leading voice as well as Garcia-Fons. Regardless of where he is placing his priority, the augmented trio shuffles responsibilities seamlessly and effortlessly. This is strongly groove-centric music that moves the body as well as the heart.
Another characteristic of exceptional records is to make one forget about the individual contributions and experience the music as a transcendent whole. While the admirable skill of all involved makes this sometimes difficult, at the end of the day the album succeeds as an incredibly broad cross-fusion of ethnic influences from around the globe. Entremundo succeeds in making music that draws a coherent link between various musical worlds and, consequently, lives up to its name by fusing the music of a diversity of cultures with an improvisational verve and, in the final analysis, a pure and unadulterated joy in making evocative and provocative music. (by John Kelman)
Renaud Garcia-Fons (bass, percussion, vocals)
Antonio “Kiko” Ruiz (guitar)
Jorge “Negrito” Trasante (drums, percussion)
Claire Antonini (lute)
Bruno Caillat (tala, daf, kanjira)
Allan Hoïst (saxophone)
Philippe Slovinsky (trumpet)
Henri Tournier (bansuri, flute)
Angel “Cepillo” Sanchez-Gonzalez (percussion)
Gaston Sylvestre (cimbalom)
01. Sueño Vivo 4.49
02. Chrístobal 4.54
03. Entremundo 4.02
04. Mahoor 4.08
05. 40 Días (Soleá) 4.46
06. Entre Continentes (Buleria) 7.01
07. Mursiya 0.51
08. Rosario 5.18
09. Doust 1.44
10. Sarebân 6.01
11. Aqâ Jân (Bass Solo) 7.52
Music composed by Renaud Garcia-Fons
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