Like all heavy-hearted twenty-somethings, Gabriel Garzon-Montano had to learn quick to roll or get rolled over. Now, as a bright star in Stones Throw‘s beaming roster, the Brooklyn native is well adjusted to his newfound visibility. It came early and without notice, well before he was opening Lenny Kravitz shows and being adopted into one of music’s most revered creative communities. Gabriel’s story is one of those right-place-right-time moments you chalk up to industry folklore, when an overlooked gem becomes the backbone of a platinum album by arguably the most famous person on the northern hemisphere. All on the good word of a well-intentioned homie.
On his 2014 release, Bishouné: Alma Del Huila, Garzon-Montano tucked four generations of r&b chops into a svelte six-track salute to A-list soul pioneers and his French-Colombian heritage. “Six Eight,” sits top of the stack; the honey-coated, slow-burning little cousin to D’Angelo‘s “Untitled,” sampled by Noah 40 on Drake‘s “Jungle.” A goldmine PR bump for anyone on any rung of the ladder. But then the check comes, and you and your vices are off to the races derailing whatever creative pursuits may have been underway. Like, say a new album. Or just being a functional human in NYC. But instead of going Houdini, Garzon-Montano flipped Drizzy’s check into a stunning full-length debut, captured entirely on 2-inch tape at an analog wizard’s Hudson, NY hideaway.
Jardín, or “garden” in French, as he explained to me upon request of a proper pronunciation (not-that-worldly American writing,) builds on Garzon-Montano’s r&b foundations, but blooms into something slightly stranger, slightly funkier. As a young musician, Garzon-Montano’s earliest influences were the transcontinental sounds that filled his childhood home, curated by his mother, a cellist and pianist who performed with Phillip Glass in the nineties. Shades of cumbia in “Bombia Fabrica” and sweeping string arrangements throughout draw from these nostalgic incubations, when a 12-year-old multi-hyphenate-to-be develops their first understandings of melody and rhythm from pedigreed pop and fusion stars like Paul Simon and Steely Dan. The result is a red-eyed r&b and hip-hop record with a Sgt. Peppers glow; warm, wistful and full of life.
Hear Jardín below and flip through the pages to read how an uncommonly rich upbringing in music guided Garzon-Montano through industry pitfalls and helped capture a heart-healing record in analog. Purchase the album digitally on iTunes or head over to Stones Throw to pick up a copy on wax.