For bandleader Bruno Garcia (who is better known as Sergent Garcia—a nickname taken from Zorro’s clueless foe), music is one of the few mediums that has the power of erasing national borders. Through his career, the French-born guitarist has collaborated with musicians from Cuba, Jamaica and other countries that have influenced his sound.
Garcia’s career got its start quite inconspicuously. Back in 1997, he recorded a song called “Salsamama” by himself—a move that became his debut album “Que Viva El Sargento.” After that, he eventually started a band and has since made numerous albums, which all reflected his willingness to absorb as much from Latin and Caribbean sounds as possible.
Garcia’s sound bears some resemblance to fellow French-born genre bender Manu Chao, who also uses various sonic influences to build his music while using a strong rock base to keep everything together.
An example of this is his cover of Mana’s “Los Desaparecidos,” a tune with lyrics that talk about the scores of people who vanished while fighting the many South American dictatorships that ruled the area until the late eighties. While the original is more of a poignant ballad, Garcia’s take is more reggae-inflected with a touch of Afro-Cuban percussion and New Orleans brass. (Ernest Barteldes)
September 18 at the Chicago World Music Festival, Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 South Michigan, 5pm. Free.