François Rabbath
Dialogues and Meditations
Emen : 1990

FR, bass; Hariprasad Chaurasia, Indian flute; Sabin Khan, tabla.

We’re pleased to present the final installation of Brian Roessler‘s exploration of the visionary jazz of François Rabbath.This extended Indo-Jazz fusion track is so fluent that it could even make Don Cherry jealous. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one and part two. And below you’ll find some of Brian’s own extraordinary music.

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The track featured in this post features François Rabbath pushing his exploration of jazz and world music on the double bass about as far as it can go. This is a beautiful improvisation performed by Rabbath along Hariprasad Chaurasia on Indian flute, and Sabin Khan on tablas. It was recorded at a June 1987 concert called “Les Rencontres de Paris,” held at Espace Cardin.

Rabbath’s technical prowess is evident, but as usual we find much more. This is an extraordinary conversation between artists of different cultures, languages, and wildly different musical styles. It is also a world-music-fusion of a different stripe than we usually find – in this case we find Rabbath leaving his musical home to work in structures foreign to him (the so-called “world music”). I asked Rabbath about the origins of this track and he shared his memories of the process with me:

This one it was a concert given in Paris. And it was an encounter between French and Indian. So, when they say to me that I’m going to play in the same concert with [Hariprasad] Chaurasia … it’s fantastic. And I say immediately “Yes, I’d like to do something.” So he comes to my house to see how we can play together. And I found out that … in a way, he can not come to my world. I must go to him, to his. And I say we don’t do any rehearsing, we’ll go there and we improvise. What do you think? And he say “Yes.” So, he do his first act, I do the second act … and he come and we improvise the last 20 minutes together. Sometime you don’t know who was playing because I was playing artificial harmonics. That was fantastic.

As a final treat in this series of posts about François Rabbath, I’d like to share a couple videos with you. This first one is Rabbath reenacting a somewhat legendary episode from his childhood. As the story goes, his first bass was an absolutely terrible instrument. As the young François progressed, he became deeply frustrated by the limitations of playing this piece of crap. In typical teenage style, he came up with a plan to get a new bass that was marvelous in its simplicity and stupidity…..

As I mentioned in the previous post, to this day all Rabbath’s concerts begin with him performing “Poucha Dass,” usually solo. Here is a very recent video of him from the Three World Bass Festival in Poland. In it he performs “Poucha Dass”, his “Concerto No. 3″ (accompanied by his son Sylvain on piano), and a final piece, which, I reluctantly admit, I don’t know the name of. Watch for the celebratory spin of the bass at the end.

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Brian has graciously allowed us to share some of his own music. No doubt you’ll hear Rabbath’s influence in his playing, but there’s much more besides. The dramatic title track from the second Fantastic Merlins album shows just one side of the quartet, fueled by propulsive rhythms and solos.

Fantastic Merlins
A Handful of Earth
Fantastic Merlins : 2009

BR, bass; Nathan Hanson, tenor saxophone; Jacqueline Ultan, cello; Peter Hennig, drums.

Buy a copy of A Handful of Earth HERE.

This provocative cover of Albert Ayler’s “Bells” doesn’t try to match the ecstatic blowout of the original. Instead Brian and Nathan Hanson miniaturize the entire tune, managing to convey its beating heart with a series of small gestures.

Nathan Hanson & Brian Roessler
Community Pool : 2009

NH, saxophone; BR, bass.

Buy a copy of Bellfounding HERE.

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