It's been a while-over three years in fact-since his last CD. To say it was worth the wait would be putting it lightly, however, because Alain Caron's world has not simply changed, it has been transformed. The bassist's playing is of course as masterful as ever, but with this recording he also reveals a new sensitivity as a composer. As a result, "5" is-as Caron himself declares-by far his most solid work to date. Now you get a chance to listen...
From the outset, the change in style is striking. The atmosphere is reflective, with powerful imagery created not by a virtuosic flurry of notes but by a more impressionistic musical pallet; indeed, one might almost say the band is in economy mode. Caron paints an extraordinary series of tableaux by creating a myriad of subtle yet remarkable ambiances. "The more I play music, the more I realize that it has to unleash emotion," says Caron. "Bach, Beethoven, John Williams, they all do that, and that's what I focused on with "5". It's a CD with a lot of atmosphere." Nor is it always a party atmosphere. Some of the moods he creates are enveloped with a deep melancholy, and others might have been inspired by a November day in Quebec. In this sense, "Show of Hands" is probably the most representative example of Alain Caron's new maturity as a composer. Caron admits to being a somewhat melancholy person: "I've been to many countries during my career," he explains, "so when I watch the news on TV and see what's happening in the world, I find it troubling. The events of the last two years, which is when I wrote these pieces, have affected me a great deal. I'm thinking a lot about my life, so it's bound to affect my music. It may seem sad at times, but I think there's also a certain sense of hope..."
Diehard fans can rest assured that the "new" Alain Caron still holds dear the standards of quality that have made him one of the best on his instrument. As both artist and architect, Caron has constructed solid rhythmical foundations on which his soloists can "dance" with complete confidence-and François D'Amour (sax), Jean-St-Jacques, Daniel Thouin and Aldo Mazza get funky, groovy and even a bit wild to their hearts' content. Also vital was the contribution of Jérome Minière, who helped Caron find new sonic pathways.
In creating "5", Alain Caron, an almost manic perfectionist, inhabited his home-based studio for two years. Two years of building and tearing down, of trials and experiments, both alone and with the band, before he finally found the right balance between sampling and live musicians, between performance and pure emotion, between traditional jazz writing and urban music. The band frequently found itself in the studio, enthusiastically engaged in energetic jam sessions; so while a lot of effort went into producing the recording, it doesn't lack spontaneity. Alain Caron certainly has not lost his touch; he's as virtuosic, technically magical, and passionate about instrumental music as ever. But Caron is less well known for his emotional side, which-as "5" so convincingly demonstrates-transcends his music and endows it with a previously unsuspected depth and personality. Who knows where this explorer will take us next.