Sergent Garcia: Taking the Roots to the Streets

Feature photo by Liberto Peiro

“Complex, crazy projects,  that´s the only kind I like”, say Sergent Garcia, (born Bruno Garcia and aka Sargento García), speaking by phone while on break from touring in the U.S.  He’s describing his last album, which was taped in four countries and with 27 musicians, including quite a few from Colombia, as that land’s rhythms are the focus of his latest musical project. It should also come as no surprise that Garcia’s background  is as complex and multi-culti as his musical undertakings: His parents were Basque Spanish and French; he has family connections to Algeria and the Ivory Coast, and he is now based in Valencia, Spain.

Garcia, a seasoned musician and creator of the ‘salsamuffin’ sound that marked a generation of Latino musicians, was also really one of the first artists to successfully bridge Cuba, Jamaica and contemporary sounds. A self-taught musician, he says that he learned from the best teachers: “Bob Marley, The Clash … being more from the street than academia, I was able to break taboos.” He adds with a laugh that this gave him a unique perspective: “…that’s why my first album was called “Poquito Quemao!” (just a little bit crazy). However, he clarifies that he strives to have his work be rigorous and respectful of traditions, and always share a message: “My musical struggle is always to bring together the streets and tradition, and to open people’s consciousness through music, to try to humanize this world through music.”

He comes to our World Music Festival touring with eight members of a thirty-musician collective Iyé Ifé, who hail from Cuba, France as well as Colombia, a land with which he has developed a strong relationship in recent years through collaborations with a younger set of musicians that he himself deeply influenced. “It’s a classic example of music of ‘ida y vuelta’”, says Garcia, using a flamenco term for that European music that went to the Americas and came back transformed.

And travelling with us to help us survive, is really at the heart of what music is all about, Garcia affirms, philosophizing:  “Human beings are nomads. We have to go where we are are taken by life, work, love, wars, exile. It’s a way we humans survive – by moving – and we can adapt to any part of the world”.  And the reason music is such an important part of that survival? “Everything vibrates – your speech, your steps – everything in the world vibrates. Musicians just perceive and organize those vibrations. Graphic artists organize colors into paintings. Chefs do it with flavors and musicians do it with sounds.”

Sergent Garcia will play the World Music Fest on Sept. 18

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