Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gonzalo Bergara Quartet March 22, 2012

Gonzalo Bergara Quartet/Quintet Makes it Sierra Club Hot

                         By Glen Creason

      I am not proud to admit I knew nothing of the Gonzalo Bergara “quartet” before their sold-out concert in the Sierra Room this week and can’t believe I waited this long to hear such exciting and superbly textured music. If you appreciate the incredible recordings of the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt or the sizzling violin excursions of Stephane Grappelli you will have found a contemporary source of such sweet sounds coming from this international group based right here in the southland. What makes this even more wonderful for lovers of real roots music and authentic jazz is that this quartet was less one member and instead of the powerhouse horns of Rob Hardt, they used the electrifying violin of Leah Zeger. Now, on any other stage within the use of human ears this young lady would dwarf the talent around her. However, this band is lead by Gonzalo Bergara, a young Argentine guitar virtuoso who takes a back seat to no one I have heard in my eighteen years of covering shows at the big hall. Bergara is ably assisted by another gypsy flavored rhythm guitarist Jeff Radaich and Brian Netzley on a souped up double bass but on this night the combination of the violin and lead guitar made this music soar and swing like it was 1935 in Paris again.
     If Bergara has a flaw it is that he does not play for reviewers and thus is pretty loose on identifying songs which said reviewers might rave about and get folks to buy. Then again, who listens to reviewers? Yet, this is music to hear live and it really did warm the soul to hear the tight harmonies and fiery solos that took these compositions to places where few can dare or have the skills to express. To be truly compared to Django and Stephane is about as high a compliment as any musician can garner. On the very fine night at Cerritos the show was opened in ear and eyes by what may have been “Portena Soledad” that sent a current of le jazz hot through the jam-packed Sierra room and set the pace for much to come. A Django Reinhardt tune followed with the appropriate nod to the inspiration for this lively style of jazz and the temperatures only cooled slightly in the lyrical “February,” one of several swinging months penned by Bergara for his recent albums. “Agridulce” showed a little Brazilian flavor but when the group returned to America for “It Had to Be You” the beautiful Ms. Zeger showed a voice to match her superb violin. Sadly the young lady left the stage but the spirited playing of “Como Una Flor” was bittersweet along with the page turning to “November” that was totally cool.
     The second half had some surprises and plenty of high octane gypsy jazz that began with three tunes from the first album and a short return to an old Nat King Cole hit “L-O-V-E” that Jeff Radaich did a fine job on with his family cheering him on. Another cool month was represented in “October” with a silky lyricism and Bergara’s meticulous guitar weaving an enchanting spell but just warming up to the tour de force performance of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” that could only have been done by a master. The many fans of gypsy melodies got a treat with “Czardas de Monte” where Leah Zeder’s exquisitely played delicate middle passage had folks actually swooning in the audience. They kept swooning and swinging for the sensual and evocative “La Muerte De Un Lobo Bueno” following by a dynamic remembrance of Django Reinhardt’s evergreen “Nuages” that left the band with many satisfied fans and many new ones. The Readers Digest version of this review is that anyone who hears this band will love them and be amazed at the levels of musicianship on stage.


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