The ingenuity of Renaud García-Fons knows no bounds. As a bassist his musicality is informed by the purest of techniques—whether he is playing pizzicato or con arco—and his expression and dynamic is so profound that he makes the contrabass a magical extension of a human voice. As such then, everything he plays becomes a magnificent aria and when he employs the harmonics of delays, loops and other devices on this live record, Solo – The Marcevol Concert, he appears to be accompanied by a choir of heavenly hosts. One thing is certain, when García-Fons plays music the air is fraught with excitement as melodies make unexpected turns, rising to great heights in the upper register—provoked by beautiful harmonies—then leaping suddenly to nether planes; or zigzagging their way through several registers before shooting out and dispersing its notes into a rarified atmosphere. His use of double stops, slapping of his fabulously toned French bow onto his marvelously tuned instrument—featuring its fables fifth string—is breathtaking and this makes his music all the more glamorous and bewitching.
García-Fons’ music sweeps across continents in its flavor and meets at the confluence of the bassist’s own background. This is a beguiling mix of European (gorgeous French impressionist sub-tones) and Mediterranean (Spanish and Middle overtones) influences and it is a joy to hear both dignified and wild ululations that “sing” amid melodies that sway and lilt toward their crescendos. However nothing is predictable and when García-Fons is powering his way, eyes closed and body bent forward, through one of his exotic melodies the result is quite breathtaking. The bassist’s use of delays and loops may not be new and the great Eberhard Weber used them on his solo ECM recording Pendulum several decades ago. However, García-Fons employs masterly technique to such effect that when he activates one of his enchanted pedals the result is absolutely heart-stopping. This is a frequent occurrence during the concert, albeit, comprised of beautifully impulsive harmonics. The striking accelerations on “Kalimbass” and the dramatic ritardandos on “Voyage à Jeyhounabad” are spectacular and unforgettable.
This CD package comprises an audio recording and a beautifully photographed video of the concert that was held at Le Prievré de Marcevol, a gorgeous medieval location in Pyrénées Orientales, in France. This was an expensive shoot and included three cameras plus a Polecam, operated by Bachir Benfaida, which provided some of the dramatic close-ups and heightened the view of Renaud García-Fons’ extraordinary technique. Between Director of Photography, Archibald Dekiss and project Director and Editor, Nicholas Dattilesi, this project has been turned into one as artistically designed as the music itself. This, in itself makes this a priceless acquisition for the avid Renaud García-Fons fan as well as simply a music aficionado. However, for Renaud García-Fons this appears to be par for the course as the majestic sweep of his playing and his music deserve nothing less. It must also be noted that his German label, “enja” appears to be lavishing great care in producing wonderful packages of music in recent times—both technically as well as aesthetically.
Tracks: Palermo Notturno; Hacia Compostela; Kalimbass; Marcevol; Bajo De Guía (Bulería); Voyage à Jeyhounabad; Yupanqui; Kurdish Mood; Pilgrim; Rock Wandering; Far Ballad.
Personnel: Renaud García-Fons: acoustic bass.
Renaud García-Fons – Official website: www.renaudgarciafons.com
Label: enja Records
Release date: January 2011
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama