Born: 1951 in Chicago, Illinois
Styles: Modern Electric Blues
All Music Guide
Born in the Bluestown of Chicago in 1951, Tino Gonzales, grew up with the sounds of Latin, Blues, R & B, Jazz, and Soul. All have contributed to his musical foundations. Having served his apprenticeship with a wide range of blues and jazz greats he eventually set off on his solo career in 1985. But as a Mexican American with a streak of Arabic heritage, the Latin blood flows equally in his veins. His music encompasses all of these varied cultural influences resulting in a unique sound that can not easily be labeled in terms of conventional categories - but if one had to sum it up in one word it would have to be passion!
Gonzales' incredible virtuoso style is so fluid it seems as though he pours his soul right into his guitar as he floats up and down its neck, coaxing from it sounds and vibrations hitherto unknown. He changes styles more often than many musicians know how to change keys and in any direction he chooses, whether Latin, Jazz, Blues, R&B or Soul, he plays with the same passionate fire and fluidity.
As top US westcoast DJ Steve Pringle from KMHD radio in Portland, Oregon once put it, 'I have no frikken idea why you aren't better known. Not for lack of talent, sound, writing...it's all good!' … One of the reasons undoubtedly is Gonzales free-spirited and independent way of thinking, which has earned him the reputation of being a maverick in the business. He resisted the temptation of signing with major labels on more than one occasion, because he refuses to let himself be exploited, run down and spat out by the industry as he has seen happening to so many of his friends and peers. Instead, he goes his own way, sometimes a rough and tumble road, but free at least. After years of touring the US and Canada Gonzales grew tired of the same old Club and Festival scene, packed his Hobo bag and decided to sail east.
Since his arrival on European shores Gonzales has certainly made some big waves over here. Having finally found a label he could work with he signed with one of the leading European independents, the French Blues label Dixiefrog Records. So far he has recorded six CDs for them, each one a masterpiece in its own right with the unique Tino Gonzales touch. All have received rave reviews in the international press. His musical career reflects a process of transformation and artistic growth that is becoming more apparent with every new CD he records. Traveling throughout Europe, from France, Belgium, Holland, England, Luxemburg and Germany, to Spain, Italy and even a few eastern European countries such as Slovenia and Hungary, Gonzales has become deeply influenced by the Old World roots of the same soulful music he grew up on in the States. Spanish, Gypsy, Arabic and African influences, which originally contributed to both, Latin and Black American music, have all found their way into his repertoire.