A couple years ago, the highly skilled guitarist Ciro Hurtado put out Los Angeles Blues (here), and showed in no uncertain terms his mastery of the six-stringed instrument. What I hadn't known at the time of that review was that Hurtado had done a four year stint with the inimitable Strunz & Farah, one of the world's premiere guitar duets, as well as opened for super-heavyweights Sting, Jackson Browne, and others, and has been releasing CDs since 1989. Small wonder, then, that L.A. Blues was such a masterful release.
Well now comes Ayahuasca Dreams under an outrageously cool cover painting by Pablo Amaringo, highly reminiscent of Abdul Mati Klarwein, Alex Grey, Gilbert Williams, and other artists of mindblowing ability and vision. The very CD title is a bit daring, ayahuasca being one of the most potent drugs in the world, and, in a hyper-Republican country like America, just using the term can be a bit of an endangerment. Hurtado, however, hails from Peru whence originate the substance and shamans who use it for spiritual purposes, just as American Natives use peyote, and as medicine for ordinary folk…and have been doing so for a hell of a lot longer than the USA has existed, thousands of years in fact. It was in fact a medicinal dose of ayahuasca which opened the doors of perception for Ciro and launched his musical career.
More than once in this CD, I was reminded of one of my favorite Peruvian bands, Urubamba, but Hurtado blends many sounds and many cultures in his work, flowing between Peruvian, Brazilian, Cubano, flamenco, and any mode he finds will enhance his compositions and playing. Nor have Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pat Metheny, B.B. King, or Carlos Santana ever been far from his ears. That blend of everything he's ever run across has flowed easily into his own style resulting in compositions of high lyricism, such as Feliz. Ayahuasca is in a definite Jazz/World/New Age vein, mellifluous and relaxing while rich in textures, inventive and positivistic. It does not display the acumen Ciro carried in L.A.Blues because the focus is on whole songs, four of which have vocals, and the intent seems to be holistically minded, as medicinal as aesthetic, more imbued with flow and harmony than splitting off into side avenues of venturesome pyrotechnics, even as mellifluously displayed as is forever Hurtado's wont. Normally, I'd be all for that latter element, it's what my ears ceaselessly search out, but we sure as hell can use a huge helping of relief in these troubled times, and Ayahuasca Dreams thus becomes over-the-counter, just-in-time, good-lord-give-me-more sonic tonic.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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