CMJ - "[T]he final track, 'Entre Continentes,' is a tremendous display of all three musician's talents, particularly Trasante."
Recording information: Schloss Elmau, Germany (07/03/2005/07/04/2005).
The virtuoso five-string bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons is widely regarded, not specifically as a contemporary jazz performer, but as a man of the world who proudly wears his ethnic and classical influences on his sleeve. Arcoluz (translated as "bow of light") is a triumphant world music endeavor, using Middle Eastern sounds melded with ECM-like Eurocentric soundscapes to make new music that is at once familiar, attractively exotic, and enthralling. Also featuring acoustic guitarist Kiko Ruiz and kit drummer/percussionist Negrito Trasante, this trio extracts the best of belly dancing, late-night séance, and trance music with ritualistic underpinnings and the overview of a wise man's soul. Expert sound engineer Walter Quintus adds to the perfection of this music, and is ostensibly a fourth bandmember. These tracks flow like dark and shimmering waters moving through lengthy tributaries that branch off in rich prismatic directions, with the journey greater than the actual final colorful destination. Another identifying quality is that of intuitive improvised common sense, honed by acute listening skills and guided by a universal center that knows no prejudice, boundaries, or emotional confinement. Garcia-Fons loves to bow his bass, whether in sharp, lively pizzicato dancing tones with handclaps for "Gitanet," the stretched arco legato style that haunts the 5/4 time signature of the Middle Eastern-flavored "40 Días," or the title track, all displaying the riveting technique of the leader. The most astounding sound is that of Ruiz, in essence a flamenco guitarist who extracts oud-like sounds out of his instrument, especially when Trasante is playing Arabic hand drums. "Berimbass" is clearly a fusion of the sonic textures of the berimbau with the bass of Garcia-Fons in a simple, energetic dance piece. The 14-minute "Anda Loco" has elements of East Indian music with the bowed bass sounding more like a soaring violin, while "Entremundo" is similar to something made by John McLaughlin's Shakti, floating in time and space via a mystical mood, then deliberately waltzing. Where Garcia-Fons excels playing solo, as on "Entre Continentes" with fleet spiky or trilled phrases, he is equally regal and romantic or heated and animated in a 6/8 midsection over nearly 13 highly developed and evolved minutes. There is an accompanying DVD of these tracks filmed in concert performance, as well as interviews and sidebar shots during the making of this music, with only French subtitles. To not know Garcia-Fons is to completely miss out on one of the truly great virtuoso performers of the modern era, but it only takes a few moments of sincere listening to experience a revelation or epiphany that may well be life-changing. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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