Entertainment Magazine.net: Music


Ciro Hurtado

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.


In fact, Hurtado has become one of the leading proponents of a new world-fusion blend that often uses elements of native Peruvian music -- whether it is rhythms from the Amazon Basin jungle or flute melodies from the Andes mountain tribes -- as a base which he then incorporates with a variety of styles from other Latin cultures as well as the United States and India. Hurtado, who gained early acclaim as a guitarist, is now also acknowledged as a top composer, arranger and producer of Latin-based world-fusion.

Although he sometimes performs solo on acoustic guitar, he most often brings together a wide-array of musicians and singers fluent with many different musical genres and instruments. “I spent the early years of my childhood in Moyobamba, a small town located in the Peruvian rainforest, about 500 miles northeast of Lima where I eventually went to school,”

Hurtado says. “At that time Moyobamba was completely isolated from the rest of the country. There were no roads, trains or boats to get there. The only form of arrival was via airplane, a long, very bumpy trip crossing the Andes on a Douglas DC3 plane from World War II. At first the town had no electricity or running water. When electricity was finally available for two hours a day, my window to the rest of the world was the radio. I listened to stations from Lima as well as neighboring countries such as Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. On short-wave radio I could catch Radio Moscow, the BBC from London and Radio La Habana Cuba which expanded my awareness of many musical styles including blues, jazz and rock.My taste in music became very eclectic from the very beginning, which is reflected on this album. I had heard Peruvian 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.”

With Selva, Ciro Hurtado has released nine albums under his own name (In My Mind, Tales From Home, The Magic Hour, Guitarra, Echoes of the Andes, Guitarrista, Los Angeles Blues and Ayahuasca Dreams). Most of the recordings feature ensemble music with a few solo guitar tracks (although Guitarrista and Los Angeles Blues are primarily solo guitar). His last three recordings received international marketing campaigns, found a passionate audience in the world-fusion and new age music genres, went Top 5 on the international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 album airplay chart and made the lists of the Top 5 best world music albums of the year named by the radio programmers reporting to ZMR. Many of Hurtado’s recordings are available online for purchase as CDs and/or digital downloads at CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes and a variety of other sales sites.

More information about the artist and his music is available at cirohurtado dot com. Hurtado also is a founding member and currently the musical director of the band 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 says. He has appeared on and co-produced their seven 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 four times with the Los Angeles Master Chorale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The last two performances featured a modern-classical piece specifically written for the band and chorale by renowned composer Gabriela Lena Frank.

The music on Ciro Hurtado’s Selva album is Latin-guitar-based; he plays acoustic guitar on every tune (and occasionally electric guitar or charango). He plays solo guitar on “Zamba Triste” and features just his guitar and the vocals of his wife, Cindy Harding, on “Solo Tu.” But on the rest of the album Hurtado surrounds himself with both Cindy and other top-flight musicians and vocalists (females singing in Spanish). The recording contains five instrumentals, another mostly instrumental piece (“Un Pacto de Amor”), and seven compositions with singing (one with wordless vocals -- “Rio”). In addition to singing on several tracks, Harding also plays ethnic South American flutes (quena, zamponas) and the requinto jarocho guitar.

Other special guests include members of Sabia and Cojunto Jardin (Libby Harding, Gary Johnson and Cindy Harding), Trio Ellas (Stephanie Amaro, Nelly Cortez and Suemy Gonzalez) and Gliese 229 (Rosalia Leon), as well as Grammy winners Ricky Kej (from India) on keyboards and Wouter Kellerman (from South Africa) on alto flute on “Pacto de Amor.” Kej also played on “Un Pacto de Amor” (featuring Butto on bansuri flute and Vanil Veigas on santoor). Some of the other key supporting players include bassist Guillermo Guzman; drummer/percussionist Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas; Julio Ledezma on drums, bombo, cajon and other Latin percussion instruments; Gino Gamboa on cajon and quijada; and Luis Perez on pre-Columbian instruments (on “Corre, Salta y Vuela” and “Chullachaqui.” 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. Hurtado has returned to Peru for performances, tours with Strunz and Farah and Huayucaltia, and more recently several times for solo concerts. 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.”

In addition, Hurtado has toured extensively by himself with a show called “One Guitar, Many Stories” that pairs his compositions with stories to illustrate the cultural and social contexts behind the music. Hurtado has studied a wide range of Latin music plus rock, blues, new age, folk, jazz, classical, flamenco, Celtic, African and Middle-Eastern music and numerous other styles. In the ‘70s and ‘80s he listened to rock (The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac), jazz (John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and Pat Metheny) and blues (B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King).

Paco de Lucia inspired Hurtado to study Spanish music and flamenco. He also enjoys Afro-Peruvian music “because I heard that music played in the streets in Peru when I was young.” Additionally Hurtado has enjoyed listening to acoustic guitarists such as Pierre Bensusan, Tommy Emmanuel, Laurence Juber, Michael Hedges and Andrew York.

“With my music I am always exploring my roots, both the early influences from Peru and also the cultural diversity I encountered when I moved to Los Angeles,” Hurtado says. “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. My music is a reflection of the many people, cultures and musical styles that have touched my life. I truly believe music knows no borders.”

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