Strapped with a classical guitar, Nate Najar’s orchestral approach to playing jazz is lush in tonality and verve, creating melodies and funky tunes that hum from the strings and give the instrument a voice of its own. His latest album, Aquarela Do Brasil, is giving the world its swing back. Teaming up with bassist Tommy Cecil, drummer Chuck Redd, saxophonist Harry Allen and Brazilian born percussionist Duduka da Fonseca, the album melds the rhythms and groove of traditional jazz, blues and gospel, and Latin-infused Brazilian samba and funk, all driven by classical guitar for a sound that is truly one of a kind.
Najar, influenced by the stylings of Charlie Byrd, the indomitable Django Reinhardt and the seminal John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery, is a throwback to those bopping days of the 1940s, '50s and '60s and one of the only classical guitarists on the scene today in a jazz trio.
On July 5, the Nate Najar Trio (Najar on guitar, Alejandro Arenas on bass and Mark Feinman on drums) will be coming to the Arts Garage for the acclaimed Jazz Project series. Here, we reprise an interview with Najar from 2009, talking jazz and inspiration, while the video clip below has the trio jamming at the Arts Garage in 2013.
- Showtime: 8 p.m.
- Tickets cost $25-$35; $5 more at the door.
- For more information or to purchase tickets, visit artsgarage.org.
- And as always, Arts Garage is BYOW (Bring Your Own Whatever).
What does jazz mean to you?
To me, jazz is a feeling; that’s the bottom line. It has to have a swing to it. It could be traditional swing or something with a funky beat, [but] the most important thing about jazz is the feeling in the music—and of course a good melody, and the way an instrumentalist will play with and embellish and improvise around the melody.
Why the classical guitar?
To me, there is a disconnect with the electric guitar. I do enjoy it quite a bit, but there is a very personal connection with the classical guitar when I am playing it. I can feel the instrument vibrating in my hands.
Who would you like to jam with?
Duke Ellington, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Prince—I would love to play with Prince. He is an absolute genius.