Renaud García-Fons

Alboreá

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Jazz has taken some unexpected directions in Europe. Garcia-Fons is a double-bass player, and he leads a French quartet that consists of himself, another double-bass player, an accordionist and a drummer. In this arrangement, Garcia-Fons exploits the huge range of the bass to play melody, while the other bassist large plays the traditional low part.

The well-known artist closest to Garcia-Fons' sound would have to be Astor Piazzolla, and indeed Alboreá does contain one tango, anagrammatically entitled "Natgo." Garcia-Fons also makes use of other world music sources, such as the Moorish sound of "Secret Zambra." And many of the tracks, not surprisingly, seem to owe something to French musette. Although Garcia-Fons might like to say his biggest musical influence was Charlie Mingus, it sometimes sounds as if his real mentor was André Previn, not just as jazz musician but as film score composer. Some of the tracks on Alboreá, like the title track, are very "big" and dramatic. However, the real show is, of course, the bass playing. Just to give one example, on "Amadu" you will think they snuck in an electric guitar, distortion and all, without crediting the musician -- until you realize that it's Garcia-Fons plucking and bowing away on his bass. Both those coming to this disc out of the jazz world and those interested in international music will find something to latch onto in this substantial and passionate album.

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