Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Los Angeles Blues in Pink

Ciro Hurtado is a Lima, Peru born guitarist who's been living in the U.S. since emigrating in 1975 to study at the Guitar Institute of Technology. Earlier in his career he worked with the flashy guitar ensemble Strunz and Farah. Interesting to note that his Grammy winning mature style is much more subdued and compositionally based than the pyrotechnical style of Strunz and Farah. Rather than go all apes**t a la, say, Al Dimeola, which he's certainly capable, he chooses an understated approach that is, IMHO, much more effective.

But enough about him. Duly noted, Hurtado's style also veers much too close to the MOR style that we usually eschew here at Jellyroll. But, as you'll note in his various videos, Hurtado often features babes dancing provocatively to his music. The dancer below is an example of particularly impressive example. While the pulse of the music is much more NyQuil, the dancer goes totally Red Bull, an excellent choice to pump some blood into this otherwise pleasant lullaby.

Beyond the obvious charms of her good looks, physical presence, and that excitable skirt she's working, I guarantee that you'll agree she has the most infectious and natural smile you'll ever see on a dancer anywhere. The smile is of course the only reason why we've posted this. Please, we have standards here (sometimes).

Enjoy and prepare to smile. BTW, her name is April Espejo and she is with the Los Angeles based dance company Raices Peruanas.

Here's what the composer has to say:

When we talk about Peruvian music, many people envision the panpipes and flutes of the music of the Andes. Since the '60s Andean musicians have been playing for tips in the subways and parks from Paris to Anchorage. However, In the past 10 years or so, Afro Peruvian music has been making great inroads in the World Music scene. Before the '50s, there were practically no records of Afro Peruvian music played on the radio in Peru. My knowledge of Afro Peruvian music was relegated to the "Tamaleros," who were the Afro-Peruvians who would come to our neighboorhoods in Lima to sell tamales. Generally the group was composed of tumba (conga) and cow bell players. They would start playing a descarga "jam" and a couple of kids would dance to the beat. After the show they would sell hot tamales from big bamboo baskets. 
Nicomedes Santa Cruz, a folklorist, poet, and writer, was the pioneer of Afro Peruvian music. His album Cumana was the first album to make it to the Peruvian airwaves in the mid '50s.
In 1995, David Byrne, the singer of Talking Heads signed a group of Vals and Afro Peruvian musicians to his label Luaka Bop. The album, The Soul of Black Peru made it to the top of the charts. Suzana Baca became an international star because of this album.

I wrote the piece La Negrita Tomasa as a vocal piece a few years ago. This instrumental arrangement for Guitar and Cajon played by Julio Ledezma was recorded for my album Los Angeles Blues. I wrote the piece in the Zapateado (footwork) style.

There were a number of typos and errors in the originally posted draft. They have been since corrected. Apologies!

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