When Drake sampled Gabriel Garzón-Montano's vocals from his song "Six Eight" for his own "Jungle" track, off 2015's If You're Reading This, It's Too Late mixtape, the career of the Brooklyn, NY-based singer-songwriter and musician got a definite boost.
Of French and Colombian heritage, Garzón-Montano has had a unique artistic upbringing, with a vocalist mother who was a part of the Phillip Glass Ensemble, and his family lived with the experimental composer/music maker for a year. Garzón-Montano is an organic blend of his Latin and French roots, with his love for hip-hop, R&B, '70s funk and chamber pop.
His recent Jardin debut — released on Stones Throw — is as underrated as it is soulful, its electronic flourishes underscoring an eclectic, vivacious vibe. This night marked his first Toronto appearance; backed by just a percussionist, Garzón-Montano moved back and forth from seated behind his Wurlitzer to jumping in front of the stand-up mike. Across a tight 60 minute set, he tackled the more accessible Jardin numbers — the bouncy, Rundgren-esque "Sour Mango," the electro-groove that is "Fruit Flies" — and scaled the more adventurous compositions — the layered sweetness of "Bombo Fabrika" and the motivated funk that is "My Balloon." The artfully abstract pop (A cactus, full bloom/Work gloves for you") of "Crawl" had heads nodding and feet hopping.
The soul clap strains of "Six Eight" made its inevitable showing — much to crowd approval — but missing from the set was the groove of "The Game," leaving many hoping it would appear in an encore that never came.
Ending things on a high-energy Spanish medley closed things out on an emphatic note. Garzón-Montano maintains a smouldering intensity that surpasses his Drake co-sign to mark him as an artist who has earned his wider recognition.