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Renaud Garcia-Fons – Eosine (90s – 66)

August 9, 2013

The road between Tingha and Gilgai is a pretty tree-lined drive. Depending on the time of the year it can be a romantic place or else subject the driver to headaches caused by the strobing between shade and full light.

One non-strobing day the romance of the countryside was replicated by the music on the radio. By this time Robyn Johnston had left Radio National’s Nightly Planet, replaced by Lucky Oceans. The change included an afternoon version. On this particular afternoon he featured French double bass twanger Renaud Garcia-Fons.

Garcia-Fons broke rules – or at least I thought he broke rules. At the time I was interested in any music in which rules were broken. Instead of propelling the groove, Garcia-Fons made the double-bass front and centre. He played flamenco on it. He added a piece of paper as a resonator to mimic a kora. On one track he would play mock-schlock B-grade movie strings, another a Middle Eastern groove. And on the Alborea album, featured on the Planet that day, he doubled up his double-bass with Yves Torchinsky, plus accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier and drummer Jacques Mahieux. Together they would veer from Tango, to the music of the Moors to music influenced by Mingus. His bass could sigh, scream, fly.

When I got back to Uni, and now in the possession of a radio show, I gang up Newmarket Records, the distributors, and asked for a copy. To my surprise they did so as well as some for giveaways. I thought this they would unlikely to be given away because I was tucked up in an awkward Sunday midday timeslot following a show which showcased old-time American jazz and Persian classical music. (Apparently the station manager didn’t know what to do with either presenter so lumped them together, but was vindicated when that show got a larger listenership than my odds and sods of unfamiliar music.) Despite all this, and to my great surprise I gave them away. I would never give away another album in the remaining seven years of the program.

I love Alborea and bought several more of Garcia-Fons’ albums in later years. As a soloist and improviser he is aggressive and agile. Matinier is a nimble accordionist and the real revelation is Mahieux on the kit. I’ve never heard Mahieux on anything else, but his dexterity stands out.

Eosine was my favourite track on the album, and the first track I heard off the album, being selected by Oceans to play while I scooted past treees between Tingha and Eosine. It’s a gentle tune for a gentle road. Plus Torchinsky gets one of only two chances on the album to solo his own double bass. I always love it when a non-headliner or session man gets a fleeting chance to take front stage. He has the first solo here thought he takes the traditional double-bass role behind tradition-breaker Renaud Garcia-Fons.

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