The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet
Guitarist Gonzalo Bergara sounds more like a man about to take off on a vacation than a musician looking at a 12-city tour.
"All four of us are really good friends," he says of his quartet. "It's like the most fun vacation ever."
Bergara and his band will leave Los Angeles this week for a West Coast tour that will bring them to Southern Oregon at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent. The non-profit Siskiyou Institute will present them as part of its New Artist Series. Bergara's group will take part in an artists in the schools program and conduct a workshop at an area school.
Bergara says the show will include originals from the band's new CD, "Porteña Soledad," and covers of such standards as "The Man I Love," "Some of These Days," "Take the A Train," "Embraceable You."
The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet is Bergara on acoustic guitar, Jeffrey Radaich on rhythm guitar, Rob Hardt on clarinet and tenor saxophone, and Brian Netzley on upright bass. The group plays a modern variant of 1930s Django Reinhardt-inspired Gypsy jazz. Composer and lead guitarist Bergara mixes cascades of arpeggios with the sounds of Paris and his native Argentina.
Bergaro, who lives in North Hollywood, says the band tries to do mini-tours each month between gigs around L.A.
"We played last night," he says. "We have to stay around. We can't just travel all the time."
Now 29, the guitarist was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When he was 11 he got a tape of the great Argentinian swing guitarist Oscar Aleman, who was known as the Django Reinhardt of South America, and a guitar.
"My uncle said, 'This is what you need to play,'" he says.
He began playing professionally at age 16, and at 17 was fronting his own blues trio on national television.
"I've always been into swing a bit, acoustic stuff," he says.
He came to the United States in 2000.
"I knew I wanted to make my life music," he says. "I came here to learn. I was a big fan of the blues, and I wanted to hang out with the people who do that in the place the music came from."
He got turned on to Django Reinhardt and Gypsy jazz about the time of Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown," which starred Sean Penn as the world's second-best guitarist.
"I fell in love with swing," he says. "The first time I heard Django was the movie. It opens with 'When Day is Done.' "
These days he has 40 Django CDs, representing what he believes is the great guitarist's entire recorded output.
What set him apart?
"With a lot of guitar players you hear their limitations," he says. "Django was never limited by the guitar.
"The other thing is his sense of rhythm. Guitar players are known for playing fast but not incredible swing and groove. His was out of this world.
"And then there's his imagination."
Bergara lists as other influences classical music, especially Chopin, the Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and American blues. He also has a Beatles side project called The Eggmen.
The quartet's new album was an Editor's Pick in Guitar Player magazine, and Vintage Guitar magazine called it "a masterpiece." The quartet was named the best jazz group in Los Angeles by Los Angeles magazine and was an editor's pick in Guitar Player Magazine. It has toured and worked with artists from John Jorgenson, Strunz and Farah and Manhattan Transfer to Moby and Barry Manilow.
In his review on DjangoBooks.com, Jeff Fiskin writes, "Gonzalo Bergara's music exists in a way that very little music does. He has lavished such care on every phrase, built each arrangement with such lapidary precision and pared away anything extraneous, the music becomes sculpture. It has weight, density, gravity. This is serious. And deeply moving."
For a taste of Bergara's playing, check out www.mailtribune.com/bergara.
Reach reporter Bill Varble at email@example.com or at 776-4478.