Gonzalo Bergara – Zalo’s Blues
Gonzalo Bergara is a gypsy jazz guitarist who has gone electric to do Zalo’s Blues, an electric and high energy album that blends his jazz experience into a blues and rock format. Based in Buenos Aires Argentina, Bergara with bassist Mariano D’Andrea and drummer Maximiliano Bergara do over 100 shows a year and have played together for over 20 years.
Bergara began many years ago as a blues guitarist. The liner notes by Little Charlie Baty explain his relationship with Bergara and his appreciation for Gonzalo and his guitarwork. Baty notes Bergara never made a blues album and never sang on any CD. He feels that this is Bergara coming back to his roots, having found a voice to match his guitar skills. I must agree- this is a darn good album of 11 originals and one cover.
A swinging instrumental begins the set. “Drawback” blends rockabilly and blues with some fantastic guitar work on top of a driving beat. It’s very cool. More of a blues rocking sound follows with “Drinking;” the sound and feel is very Chuck Berry-esque with another driving beat, stinging guitar work and solid vocals. “Singing My Song” has a heavy guitar lead in to this rock-blues ballad. Channeling a little Jimmy Page here, the song could easily be a Led Zeppelin cut. The lone cover is next, Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have to Go.” More impeccable guitar, slowing the beat down a bit and effects on the vocals give this a new sort of twist and make it interesting.
“Dirty Socks” is a short and sweet instrumental that verges on reggae yet remains blues rock. “Gonna Go” again goes rockabilly and way up in tempo. The guitar is wicked and the vocals are slick. Next up is “No More,” an amped up take on late 1950’s rock that is immersed in the blues. It shuffles nicely and the vocals have some cool grit and grime to them. “Been Runnin”” takes off running and never stops. Another in the rocking rockabilly realm, this is another great little instrumental.
Following that is “Whoosh;” it starts off as a country sort of blues ballad that turns into a Beatles White Album/”Yer Blues” sort of song. Interesting! “Levi” is another cool instrumental shuffle with a big hollow bodied guitar sound. The temp drops for “Ines,” a thoughtful slow blues instrumental where a layer of guitar “sings” the lead for the ballad. The backline switches for this one to Vince Bilbro on bass and Michael Partlow on drums. The final cut is “Won’t Stay With You” where Bergara gives us nicely picked acoustic guitar work and some breathy vocals. It’s a folksy sort of blues and nice twist to close with.
I like that he goes old school on a lot of these cuts where Bergara makes a big statement in only 2 or 3 minutes. For a guy not known for his vocal work I thought he did a great job. He did a great job with them and his guitar work was even better. Bergara offers a nice mix of styles. I have no complaints at all with this album and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Kudos to Bergara and the band for a fine job putting together a very original and well done album. Exceptional guitar work and just a lot of fun to listen to!