Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Entremundo

Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons' set of originals mixes together Western classical music with world music and the improvising of jazz. The resulting performances are both soothing and stimulating, with Garcia-Fons' bowed bass being quite virtuosic and expressive; his feature on "Aqâ Jân" is very impressive. The many percussion instruments add an exotic element to the music (the core trio is comprised of bass, guitar, and drums) and the leader's strong melodies are full of variety and rich themes. Despite the lack of name recognition in the U.S., this is a special release with plenty of mood variations, unexpected moments, and logical development. Entremundo grows in interest with each listen and is well worth exploring. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

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 "Sueno 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. ntremundo 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, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Renaud Garcia-Fons
Album: Entremundo
Year: 2004
Label: Enja Records
Runtime: 50:57

Tracks:
1.  Sueno vivo 4:46
2.  Cristobal 4:51
3.  Entremundo 3:59
4.  Mahoor 4:06
5.  40 Dias (Soleá) 4:43
6.  Entre Continentes 6:58
7.  Mursiya 0:48
8.  Rosario 5:15
9.  Doust 1:42
10.  Sareban 5:58
11.  Aqa Jan 7:51
All compositions by Renaud Garcia-Fons 

Personnel:
Renaud Garcia-Fons (Double Bass, Vocals, Tanbur, Percussion)
Jorge Trasante (Drums, Bombo, Udu, Latin Percussion)
Antonio Ruiz (Flamenco Guitar)
Claire Antonini (Tar, Cistres, Luth Baroque)
Gaston Sylvestre (Cimbalom)
Angel Sanchez-Gonzalez (Palmas, Cajon, Jaleo, Pandeiro)
Bruno Caillat (Tabla, Daf, Kanjeera)
Philippe Slovinsky (Trumpet)
Allen Hoist (Tenor Saxophone)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Charles Lloyd - Hyperion With Higgins

The December 1999 sessions that produced The Water Is Wide yielded enough material for a second album. Hyperion With Higgins is the result, and its title reflects the sad fact that Billy Higgins, Lloyd's friend and soul mate and the session's drummer, passed away not long after the music was put to tape. The music's spiritual quality is heightened by the after-the-fact dedication. Quite unlike The Water Is Wide, Hyperion With Higgins is comprised entirely of Lloyd's original compositions, although the same lineup is featured: Lloyd, Higgins, John Abercrombie, Brad Mehldau, and Larry
Grenadier. After a couple of fairly straightforward jazz pieces ("Dancing Waters, Big Sur to Bahia" and "Bharati"), the quintet delves into two longer works: "Secret Life of the Forbidden City" and the Coltrane-esque "Miss Jessye." They then romp through the title track, a spirited mid-tempo blues, before tackling the album's centerpiece: the five-part "Darkness on the Delta Suite," an ambitious, free-leaning melange of Eastern and rural blues connotations (with a brilliant solo interlude by Abercrombie). The last two pieces -- "Dervish on the Glory B" and "The Caravan Moves On" -- depart almost completely from jazz vernacular. The former recalls the upbeat, folk-like drone of the sunset portion of "Forest Flower," while the latter, featuring Lloyd on taragato, evokes not only the Middle Eastern desert, but also the inexorable march of time. Thus does a fitting homage to the departed Higgins conclude this exceptionally focused, all-original statement from Charles Lloyd. - by David R. Adler, AMG

Artist: Charles Lloyd
Album: Hyperion With Higgins
Year: 1999
Label: ECM (2001)
Runtime: 70:07

Tracks:
1.  Dancing Waters, Big Sur To Bahia 5:51
2.  Bharati 6:59
3.  Secret Life Of The Forbidden City 10:03
4.  Miss Jessye 10:21
5.  Hyperion With Higgins 7:19
6.  Darkness On The Delta Suite 12:39
7.  Dervish On The Glory B 8:23
8.  The Caravan Moves On 8:32
All compositions by Charles Lloyd

Personnel:
Charles Lloyd (Tenor Saxophone, Tárogató [Taragato], Maracas)
Billy Higgins (Drums, Percussion)
Larry Grenadier (Double Bass)
John Abercrombie (Guitar)
Brad Mehldau (Piano)

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