July 3, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Notice anything unusual about this bass?
Take another look at the fretboard. You'll see five strings on the Jean Auray bass, a French-made instrument. But that's not the only difference. This bass is played by Renaud Garcia-Fons, who plays the instrument and makes it sound like a cello, a drum, a Brazilian berimbau, even a flamenco guitar. His pizzicato, or plucking style, sounds most like flamenco. Renaud uses the tips of his fingers, rather than the sides (like most jazz players). He has a flawless bowing technique, no doubt developed under the tutelage of the master of the contrebasse, Francois Rabbath. Garcia-Fons can execute a sequence on the double bass that would send most musicians back to the woodshed. He looks like he's doing these pyrotechnics with little effort.
But enough about technique. What makes Renaud Garcia-Fons so interesting is that he plays some amazing music. In Montreal, he performed with a trio (guitar, percussion) at the Salle de Gesu.
© 2008 WBGO
January 10, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Hope is the thing with feathers. That's what Emily Dickinson wrote. Then again, Emily never left her bedroom, which sounds pretty hopeless. She never saw a moor, nor the sea. And she would not have gone to an Esperanza Spalding show, like I did this morning.
I always ask musicians I know for the scoop on who's coming up. Joe Lovano told me about Esperanza. I checked out her MySpace page, but I had not seen her live.
Her quartet featured Otis Brown Jr. on drums, Leonardo Genovese on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Jamie Haddad on percussion. Esperanza plays bass, and she sings.
Here are two songs about lost love, from two very different times and attitudes.
Esperanza Spalding has a new recording coming out in May on Heads Up Records. - Josh
© 2008 WBGO
December 28, 2007. Posted by Joshua Jackson.
Drummer Ed Thigpen has lived in Denmark since the early 70s, but we haven't forgotten him stateside. Especially given the recent death of Oscar Peterson. Thigpen recorded more than 50 records as a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio, but not very many as a leader.
In 1966, though, he made a record for Verve called OUT OF THE STORM. Not a lot of music here, and Thigpen doesn't solo much, but it's still worth checking out. At the time, Thigpen had recently left the Oscar Peterson trio. Trumpeter Clark Terry adds some mouthpiece-only solos for an nice effect. Thigpen plays tuned drums that sound like tympani at times. Kenny Burrell, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter round out the date. Give it a listen.
The last time I saw Ed Thigpen, he was teaching kids at a percussion clinic in New Orleans. As you can imagine, there were a symphony of drummers in attendance (which, in retrospect, is pretty easy for a rhythm town like NOLA). It was just around the time that he won a Humanitarian Award at the International Association for Jazz Education conference.
That seems fitting. He's a beautiful cat, and a tremendous educator. And for the record, he's a hell of a wire brush player.
Happy Birthday, Ed Thigpen.
© 2007 WBGO