September 2006

FAB Trio: Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul, & Billy Bang
at the Guelph Jazz Festival
September 9, 2006Guelph Youth Music Centre Guelph
The Prime Element — Excitement
by Paul J. Youngman with photos by Roger Humbert
The Fab Trio was all that and more. Comprised of veterans Billy Bang (violin), Joe Fonda (acoustic bass) and Barry Altschul (drums) they were in a take no prisoner mode. A full-sounding, straight-ahead rhythmic unit, that put it all out there to the joy of the capacity crowd who responded in kind.
The Fab Trio was smoking at this concert. All members were firing in turbo drive. The energies blended and communication on numerous levels occurred. The band blasted off from bar one and never looked back. Violinist Billy Bang, a Joe Venutti meets Mahavishnu John McLaughlin style of player pulled off some rip-roaring, 18-string riffs. When he was laying back, in semi accompaniment mode, he would pluck the strings or strum in ukulele manner, creating a percussive and dynamic rhythm that was captivating yet humorous, maintaining the spirited excitement, yet approaching the music in a laid back and thoroughly enjoyable manner.

Drummer Barry Altschul, a cymbal specialist, created a wall of sound with five killer-sounding cymbals including an odd kidney-shaped Chinese cymbal. His tasteful use of his kit as percussive playground was really remarkable and enjoyable. When break-out time comes he steps up and kicks into another gear that takes the energy level up a few notches. Thus motivated, and with a visible energetic aura surrounding the stage, bassist Fonda pushed the bass to the edge. Letting the adrenalin flow freely, fingers moving ever so rapidly, he would tear strips off the bass, battling with Altschul for percussive supremacy.

Joe Fonda
Totally immersed in this battle to produce, Billy Bang the violinist would just let go, eyes glazed over and mouth fixed in a permanent smile, he played to unite the drummer and bass player. As his hand propelled the bow across the strings, faster and faster, he would start hopping, screaming, and flying without a parachute. The music he played was exciting, not overdone, there were plenty of dynamics, there was a lot of thought as to what mood to create, however, the show built quickly to a glorious and exciting finale.

A fabulous performance from the Fab Trio. The band played four songs, only one of which had an instantly recognizable rhythm, “Chan Chan” from the Buena Vista Social Club recording . They would be called back to the stage for an encore and performed with the same level of energy, excitement and joy. Three wonderful elements that all great bands must possess.

Barry Altschul

Billy Bang
> FABtrio >
We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report
Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2006