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Mediterranees

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 11, 2011
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 11, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Enja
  • ASIN: B003WL7ELC
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,584 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Paul Squassoni on April 8, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was not familiar with Renaud Garcia-Fons before this album, so I was surprised by the inventiveness, the musicianship, the lyrical lines based on folk music, and the creativity of the music. This is a cross-genre blend of jazz, mediterranean, and classical. At times sweeping, at times intimate, the music changes according to its real or imagined setting, with some songs seeming to have different movements of changing rhythms, instruments and melodies.

This is an ambitious and wonderful album, in some ways a more restrained and Mediterranean version of the sophisticated music of Oregon or Oystein Sevag. Don't miss it!
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The Mediterranean Sea defines a region. The surrounding sea coasts and ports communicated with each other in trade, in culture, in colonization. A similar climate, typically balmy, and a common feeling of the sea, with fishing and travels also bring focus. Renaud García-Fons, a 5-string acoustic bassist, himself has Spanish, French, and Italian roots. With a talented ensemble he presents a clockwise musical exploration of the Mediterranean perimeter beginning with southern Spain. Lyricism is his forte, and with various rhythms and moods, the ethnic distinctions are more suggestive and atmospheric than with traditional musical idioms. Often a dance emerges, but sad ballads also are encountered.

An ancient Andalusian rhythm and Moorish percussion begins the journey, and we are introduced to the variety of instruments: accordion, baroque lute, flamenco guitar, the double-bass, frame drums (bendir, daf, and tar), cymbals, and udu clay pot bass percussion. Later in other tracks are heard the octobass and alto flutes, theorbo bass lute, Persian tanbur long-neck lute, cajon, shakers zarb goblet drum, darbouka drum, rik small tambourine, clarinet, bansuri bamboo flute, bouzouki lute, and guimbarde Jew's mouth harp. Lorca's Spain next leads to a 12-beat flamenco seguriya as forceful military hymn. From Mars, we meet Venus in a song of love and inner beauty as a Renaissance lute ballad. Remaining in Spain, the musicians go to festive, cosmopolitan Barcelona. France is reached with the words of symbolist writer Auguste Villieres de l'Isle-Adam as oars. Just past the Spanish border is Areglès-sur-Mer, site of a concentration camp; drone basses and the double bass bring a chilling lament in honor of the interned 100,000 Spanish Republicans.
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I heard an excerpt of this album on PRI's "The World" and was compelled to buy it. Listen with the booklet, read the poetry and the ideas behind the music, and you will have inside scoop into the brilliant and sensitive mind behind this glorious, very original and not schleppy travelogue around the Mediterranean.
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I play this in the car constantly. Garcia-Fons was in Melbourne (Australia) last year where I had the pleasure of hearing him play his 5 string (!!) double bass. Great jazz, heavily influenced by the Middle East.
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