CIRO HURTADO DEMONSTRATES HIS UNIQUE LATIN ACOUSTIC GUITAR STYLE
NEW: "Selva:" Many of guitarist Ciro Hurtado’s earliest memories are of the jungle, the Amazonian rainforest in his homeland of Peru, the world’s most bio-diverse place, an isolated and barely-populated wilderness with many tall broad-leaved trees and liana climbing vines forming a high canopy. Hurtado, who moved to California when he was 20, named his new album Selva (Spanish for jungle) and continues to explore the sounds of Peruvian folk music mixed with music from other countries that he first heard on short-wave radio as a child.
Ciro Hurtado plays acoustic guitar with a unique Latin style that combines what hecalls “Andean Blues” (from his Peruvian birthplace) with elements of American jazz and rock’n’roll plus a variety of other international influences.
Proof of his innovative guitar technique is available on his new solo-guitar album, Los Angeles Blues.
Hurtado was born and raised in Peru, but immigrated to the United States when he was 20. Since then he has released seven albums under his own name and seven with the band Huayucaltia.
He also has played and recorded with the renowned guitar ensemble Strunz and Farah.
Hurtado has spent the past several decades developing his own guitar style that incorporates Peruvian folk music motifs that originated in the Andes Mountains and that he grew up listening to and performing as a teenager.
Hurtado’s last album, Guitarrista, also was a solo acoustic guitar recording. It went to #2 on the international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 album airplay chart, stayed on the chart for six months, and was named one of the Top 5 best world music albums of the year by the radio programmers reporting to ZMR.
Los Angeles Blues and Guitarrista and some of Hurtado’s other music are available for purchase online at CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes and a variety of other sites that sell CDs or digital downloads. More information is available at cirohurtado.com.
Hurtado’s childhood was split between living in a small town on the family’s plantation in the Amazonia rain-forest and going to school in the large city of Lima. The plantation was so remote it was primarily accessible by small planes, and initially had no electricity or running water.
When electricity was finally available for two hours a day, Ciro listened to music on the shortwave radio that picked up music from Brazil and Cuba as well as Russian broadcasts which expanded his awareness of many musical styles. “I had heard Andean folk music all my life, and members of my family played it on guitar, but as a child, the first time I heard The Beatles on the radio, I also became mesmerized by rock’n’roll.”
Ciro began playing guitar at age nine, and started studying it seriously when he was 13. He played acoustic guitar in traditional folk ensembles and electric guitar in rock groups. After moving to the United States, he studied at the prestigious Guitar Institute of Technology. Hurtado appeared on the Strunz and Farah Misterio album and toured for four years with this popular group including concerts at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Havana Classical Guitar Festival in Cuba, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, plus a return to his native country for a tour throughout Peru.
Hurtado’s own previous albums are In My Mind, Tales From Home, The Magic Hour, Guitarra, Echoes of the Andes and Guitarrista. The first five recordings mostly featured ensemble music with a few solo guitar tracks. After the release of Guitarrista, he toured extensively by himself with a show called “One Guitar, Many Stories” that paired his compositions with stories to illustrate the cultural and social contexts behind the music.
Hurtado also is a founding member and currently the musical director of Huayucaltia (pronounced why-you-call-TEE-ah) that has group members from Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and the United States (“In this group I have gotten the chance to explore virtually every kind of Latin rhythm.”). He has appeared on and co-produced their albums -- Despertar, Caminos, Horizontes, Amazonas, Origenes, Destinos and El Tiempo. During the past decade the group performed “Misa Criolla” by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez at the Hollywood Bowl to critical acclaim, and performed three times with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The last performance was a piece specifically written for the band and chorale by renowned composer Gabriela Lena Frank.
Hurtado was awarded the prestigious Durfee Master Musician Fellowship. “The highlight of that experience was playing with and collaborating with musicians from Africa, Japan, Iran, Ireland and Vietnam. I felt like we were creating universal music.” In addition, Hurtado has produced and recorded albums for Michele Greene, Conjunto Jardin, Rosalia Leon and numerous others. As a composer, Hurtado has scored and participated musically in various feature films and documentaries such as Ron Fricke’s classic film “Baraka,” “Dead Women in Lingerie,” “Max is Missing,” “Hope Street,” “Monsters,” “Peru: The Royal Tour” and “From Wharf Rats to Lord of the Docks.”
Hurtado has studied a wide range of Latin music plus rock, blues, folk, jazz, classical, flamenco, Celtic, African and Middle-Eastern music and numerous other styles. In the ‘70s and ‘80s he listened to everything from The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac to John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and Pat Metheny. Paco de Lucia inspired Hurtado to study Spanish music and flamenco. He also enjoys Afro-Peruvian music, which became well-known in the world music circle after the release of the album The Soul of Black Peru (produced by David Byrne in the Nineties), “because I heard that music played in the streets in Peru when I was young.” Hurtado has listened to acoustic guitarists such as Pierre Bensusan, Tommy Emmanuel, Laurence Juber, Michael Hedges and Andrew York. “They don’t influence me because I have a different style, but they certainly inspire me and give me confidence to try new things.”
Hurtado plays finger-style guitar on his solo guitar recordings. When he is performing with an ensemble at a concert he also uses a flat-pick.
“Playing solo guitar, especially in concert, is very demanding, but also very rewarding. It takes courage because it is just me and my guitar. It is a very immediate and intimate way of connecting with the audience,” explains Hurtado.
“On the album Los Angeles Blues I am exploring my roots, both the early influences from Peru and also the cultural diversity I encountered when I moved to Los Angeles,” Hurtado explains. “On this album I truly feel I have found my own voice as a solo player and I am more at ease playing solo than ever before. I have worked hard for many years to combine all my influences and make my own style so that I don’t sound exactly like anyone else.”
Seeds for the music on the new album were planted throughout Ciro’s life. As a child he heard the song “La Campanera” by the young Spanish singer Joselito which inspired Hurtado to compose a completely different tune with that title. When he was in high school he traveled to the city of Cuzco in Peru for adventure and as a “rite of passage,” and this long-ago trip inspired the tune “Camino a Cuzco.” “Tahuampita” is his tribute to the informal weekend dance parties held by Peruvian jungle plantation workers that he observed as a child. Several tunes stretch back two decades to ensemble versions on earlier albums, but re-recorded here as solo guitar tunes -- “Aguas” and “La Negrita Tomasa” along with a tune written at that time, “Reflection.”
Other compositions on the recording reflect recent feelings. The title track is called “Los Angeles Blues” because, Hurtado says, “living in such a huge city can get you down because you can see a lot of society’s problems exemplified here, and on the professional level there is a lot of competition and talent. But the other side of that is the new piece I wrote, ‘Spring in the Hills,’ which is a joyful, positive, uplifting tune about enjoying the flowers and animals found in the foothills around Los Angeles.” Argentinian Julio Ledezma plays a subtle bombo drum on the title track and the cajon on “La Negrita Tomasa.” As Hurtado explains in the album’s liner notes, he incorporates many Latin music styles including yaravi/triste, zapateado, festejo, bordoneo, bailecito and chacarera.
“Even though this album pulls together inspirational ideas and musical motifs from throughout my life, the music represents where I am today,” states Hurtado. “Los Angeles Blues is a reflection of the many people, cultures and musical styles that have touched my life, but in the end it is just me with my guitar.”
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