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November 29th Live Music: Nate Najar Quartet

Nate-Najar-Trio-9Growing up in St. Petersburg, Najar studied guitar from age 17 through his 20s. He made a major leap in his development after hooking up with Frank Mullen, who like Byrd had been a disciple of renowned D.C classical guitar teacher Sophocles Papas. Frank had moved down to Florida in the early ‘70s,” Najar recalls. “He played the classical guitar a lot in our lessons and he had told me to get one. And when I started playing it I thought, ‘Wow, this is so much better than that other thing.’
So the more I learned how to play with Frank, the more I discovered that fingerstyle playing on the classical guitar is much more piano-like.” Byrd became an obvious source of inspiration for him in his developmental years.

“Charlie was my guy,” says the 30-year-old guitarist, who also cites Gene Bertoncini and Romero Lubambo as influences. “I knew Charlie’s records, I loved his sound. It was something that was really special to me. There was just this elegant simplicity in his playing; it always seemed like just the right way to do it.”

While Najar may be coming out of the Charlie Byrd tradition, he’s got his own unique place in the lineage of nylon string fingerstyle jazz guitar. “I’m trying to come out of a classical thing. Charlie came out of a classical thing when he was younger. As he got older, he wasn’t playing classical repertoire as much, although he practiced a lot. But Charlie was a helluva classical player when he was younger. I’m coming out of that, trying to approach the classical guitar with the repertoire. Most of my practice these days is trying to do the Julian Bream thing. Tone production is something I’m working on now. And I’m making a big effort to do it as the classical guys do it…because that technique really makes the guitar a piano in your lap, if you’ve got your fingers really happening properly.”

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Nate Najar

November 29th


Independent Bar Tampa