How strange: liner notes for a CD in a world of singles. Use to be you could learn from liner notes. Like the little disquisition on sumi-e on the back of Miles’ Kind of Blue. Or Leroy Vinegar’s loving quote about Les McCann’s playing, “Sometimes it’s just so right all you can do is laugh.” There was biography and history too, all good. And, occasionally, there were notes telling you how to listen. Those were mostly useless. How you listen is listen.
But there is one sound it may be useful to point out concerning Walking Home. The sound of an artist becoming himself. However essential, the search for self is tricky. Because you lose stuff as you go along; things get left behind.
Gonzalo Bergara put away his considerable blues chops when he started working on gypsy jazz. Then he left behind showcasing his technical mastery of gypsy swing to focus on composing. And while he composed, he put together a remarkable performance quartet. The synergy and symbiosis between musical performance and composition has only grown stronger, as if the music only came into being in the presence of Jeff Radaich, Rob Hardt, Brian Netzley and Leah Zeger. Gonzalo left behind the privacy of composition to share in public creation. Whatever he has needed to leave behind, he has been fearless and ruthless.
In fact, there is only one thing an artist absolutely can’t afford to lose. Passion. Everything else is mutable. Everything else can be swapped out. Not passion. Passion is the engine that drives the endless search for self that is the only real work of a great artist.
If you listen closely, that’s what you will hear. That and those marvelous blues chops sneaking back in. Nothing really gets left behind.
Jeff Fiskin - Los Angeles 2012