FRANCISCO “PANCHO” NAVARRO took a huge risk when he uprooted his family to move to New York City from their native Argentina. His gamble paid off handsomely for the acoustic guitarist, and his resume now includes recording and concert work for everyone from Placido Domingo to Celia Cruz, and from Christian Castro to the Rolling Stones. He released his very-overdue solo debut on Soundbrush entitled Sweet Guitar which included little-known South American songwriters as well as a few of Navarro’s own elegant compositions.
Sweet Guitar shines an overdue spotlight on an artist who has spent most of his career enhancing the work of others. Maybe you heard him playing throughout Elliot Goldenthal’s Oscar-winning soundtrack for Frida, or accompanying Plácido Domingo in a recording of Die Fledermaus made in 2003 at the Washington Opera. The Rolling Stones used Navarro on a 2006 remake of “I’m Free,” their early single; Paulina Rubio (“Perros”), Cristian Castro, Victor Jara, Celia Cruz, and Armando Manzanero sang to his backing. “I always worked with my guitar to make my ends meet but I’ve been fortunate to meet the right people in show business,” he explains modestly.
Pancho, as he’s commonly known, can equal any of them. Out of his fingers comes an orchestral array of string and percussive sounds; a rhythmic and harmonic flair that few jazz musicians can equal; an elegance born of years of classical study; an arranger’s sense of architecture; and a wealth of beauty, feeling, and wit. Sweet Guitar is a diary of the music that shaped him, gathered in his lifelong travels through South America. "The way I play my guitar comes from absorbing the different styles and colors of our Latin American culture and blending them with my style of performing classical music,” he says.
“Influenced as much by classical acoustic guitar legends like Paco de Lucia and Andrés Segovia as by Mexican boleros and Chilean folk, his playing is crystalline and affecting.” – NEW YORK DAILY NEWS