Jim Gala: A jewel in Cuenca’s musical crown

Jan 18, 2017 | 20 comments

By Bill Scott

Years ago when I made the decision to become a professional musician, my father gave me some words of wisdom that I have never forgotten. He said: Just remember there are all different types of musicians in the world. All great players are not necessarily great artists.

As my career progressed, I won some awards, composed some movie sound tracks and threw my hat in the ring on Broadway. My mentor, a world-class pianist from Japan, came to me after attending one of my concerts and said “Bill, don’t play the music… let the music play you”. It took me some years more to understand that advice on a deeply emotional level. Suddenly, one day… I got it.

Jim Gala making music.

It’s about that deeply emotional, spiritual level of music that I write about here. It is a rare thing to be so moved by a performer that you lose all sense of time and space. You are seduced into feeling things you never felt before and you can’t articulate.

Cuenca is blessed to have such an artist in Jim Gala. I have played with some of the greats on both sides of the Atlantic, yet I have never heard such a transformative, unique jazz pianist as Jim Gala. Simply put, he’s a true musical genius. Jim expresses fully the beauty, humanity and poignancy of the classic songs he chooses to play. He goes to a depth few musicians ever go. I recently saw Jim perform at Cuenca’s, Jazz Society of Ecuador. I found myself wanting and needing to hear every note. It really wasn’t just the music. It was something far deeper; much more than hearing a great technician, I was hearing Jim’s brilliance being playing thorugh. He got it!

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Weekend action at the Jazz Society.

Jim probably always had it; that thing that strips the listener of all your emotional defenses. Then he played “It Might As Well Be Spring,” and tears filled my eyes. I had never heard that song played that way before. Jim’s interpretation went right to the heart of a song I’ve heard played a hundred times though it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. Jim unabashedly and unashamedly exposed the most intimate part of his being to give me and all who were open and listening a sacred gift. He creates that magic with each song he performs.

Jim Gala is one of those rare musicians that go beyond.  A crown jewel in the ever growing music scene here in Ecuador. It is no wonder Cuenca is quickly gaining the reputation as the Greenwich Village of Ecuador and that Jim Gala’s Jazz Society have honorary directors the likes of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Branford Marsalis to name but a few.

Jim has also established a cooperative teaching Ecuadorian musicians the art of improvisation. Give yourself a gift and go see Jim Gala play at Cuenca’s own “Birdland”, The Jazz Society of Ecuador, Wednesday through Saturday on the 2nd floor of La Viña Italian restaurant. Doors open at 6:30 with music at 7:30. It will be a gift you will never forget.

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Bill Scott was born in New York City. In the 60’s he played an active part in that vibrant music scene often sharing the stage with Billy Joel, The Rascals and others. Bill has recorded with several major labels both in the U.S. and Europe. In Hollywood he has composed three movie sound tracks and now six Broadway Musicals, the latest here in Cuenca, “Expats a Musical Comedy Review”. He has written “The True Cost Of Living” which he performed several times in concert with his dear friend Cindy Benson to benefit the earthquake victims.

 

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