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