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Gaby Moreno has shared the stage with many artists over the years, including Tracey Chapman, Calexico and the Punch Brothers. Alejandra Barragan Hide Signature
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Near Gabi Moreno's house is a small theater in West Los Angeles called Largo in the Crown. He was a guest singer and performed at this historic nightclub for over 20 years.
“It became the place where I went for inspiration,” says Moreno. "Oh my god, you've inspired me so much, I really think something has changed in the way I wanted to express myself through music."
Moreno came to Los Angeles in 2001 and released his first album in 2008. After seven albums, Moreno found his voice in various Latin American genres and American music, including R&B, Soul, Pop, Rock and Country, Old Time and Plus. . Moreno is equally comfortable writing and singing songs in Spanish and English.
But before the release of his first album, he did not write songs in Spanish. “I think I first discovered blues and jazz when I was very young, around 13, and when I went to New York with my family. And I remember being obsessed with this music,” he says.
During this trip, he bought many CDs and brought them home to Guatemala. Moreno says he locked himself in his room and listened to Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.
“I remember thinking it was impossible to write in Spanish, I didn't think it would be possible to sing this style of music in Spanish, that's what I wanted to do, I wanted to play the blues. I want to play jazz."
Everything changed when I started playing Largo.
Gabi Moreno's small office. Small concert in the office All songs were reviewed at NPR Music's 10th Anniversary Party with Gabi Moreno Live.
His friend, bassist David Belch, used to visit the club every week and invite Moreno to join him for any song he wanted to sing. And I remember how he told me. "Hey, why don't you bring a bolero? And I: "Bolero?" “I mean, actually, I knew all these boleros, because then I grew up in Guatemala and my parents played them a lot, but I didn’t know how to play them, I don’t know. I don't think I'll ever sing a bolero.
Moreno returned home and began to listen to the bolero. Then I came across one called "Maybe, Maybe, Maybe." “And then I started playing this song, it was here in Largo,” he says. And I remember people coming up to me after shows and saying, "That's the music, the songs are in Spanish, you have to do this." "
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In his seventh album Alegoría, Gabi Moreno says that he writes music on his own terms. Alejandra Barragan Hide Signature
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“Gaby got me into all this American music,” says fan Jackson Browne. “I saw him once in Largo, and he played electric guitar, and he played something very, very, very, very, very angry, you know. I realized it really came down to a lot of different things. "musical styles".
While in Largo, he met famed composer and arranger Van Dyke Parks, whose work includes writing songs for The Beach Boys and collaborating with Randy Newman, Little Fet and Ree Cooder.
Alternative Latino Van Dyke Parks takes over vocals from Gaby Moreno for "Spangled!"
Moreno says they talked for hours. He told me, “This is the music that I grew up listening to. In the 60s, my brother and I played gigs singing creeds, farmers and sweaters, and I love this music so much that we should do something together. ! In 2019, Moreno and Parks released Spangled! They released an album called The following year it was nominated for a Latin Grammy.
Moreno says that despite the fact that he has perfected his craft for decades, something keeps bringing him back to his roots. This influenced his latest album Allegory. He says he can hear how much he has developed not only as a songwriter, but also as a singer.
"I'm more connected to the songs I write and my experience, especially my experience as an immigrant here in the United States," he says. “Even after all these years, since I've been here for so long, over 20 years, I still feel like Guatemala is my home. My whole family is there."
In "Til Waking Light", Moreno sings in English and Spanish from the point of view of an immigrant on a treacherous journey from Central America to the United States.
“And I personally know the people who went on this crazy, crazy journey,” he says. “I really tried to think about what was going on in their heads. Like how desperate they must be to give up everything they know and risk their lives to get to a place where they can have more.” opportunities and be in a safer environment.”
Over the years, Moreno has shared the stage with artists ranging from Tracey Chapman to Calexico and the Punch Brothers. He toured the world with British actor and singer Hugh Laurie as part of the band Cooper Bottom. In 2009, he wrote a song for the TV show Parks and Recreation. In 2020, he was appointed as the first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Guatemala.
Guitarist, pianist and producer David Garza met Moreno 18 years ago. “To be blessed with such a voice of creator and songwriter of his time is an incredible gift and a gift to everyone who meets him,” he says. "Usually you don't have that kind of voice and writing talent."
Moreno will embark on a major European tour this month. He will play 28 shows over six weeks in 11 countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland. One thing is for sure, Gabi Moreno will always return to her favorite place, Largo Coronet.