OF ALL THE LATIN-STYLE ACOUSTIC-GUITAR SOLOISTS, BRUCE HECKSEL OFTERRA GUITARRA IS ONE OF THE BEST


There are lots of excellent acoustic-guitar musical acts thatincorporate classical open-neck guitars and a Latin-style whether you call itnouveau flamenco, nuevo flamenco, new Latin or world-fusion (or even sub-genressuch as Mediterranean-Blend or Latin-American). Those acts include Ottmar Liebert, Gipsy Kings, Jesse Cook, JohannesLinstead, Richard Hecks of Luna Blanca, Paco de Lucia,Strunz and Farah, Ciro Hurtado, Jim Stubblefield and Incendio, and countlessothers. But one of the very bestsoloists is definitely Bruce Hecksel of Terra Guitarra, who is always melodic,inventive and interesting with his lead lines.

Hecksel is back with a new Terra Guitarra recording, SpiritWheel, which is this act’s ninth album. Interestingly enough, this is probably the softest, slowest, mostspiritual, and healing/new-agey of the nine. Hecksel says he created the music to relieve the stress and anxiety hewas finding in his own life, especially of the “material culture” we all livein (Buy, buy, buy to keep yourself happy, the barkers shout). Then he realized that if this music helpedhim meditate, explore consciousness raising and relieve some stress, why notshare it with others in hopes of doing the same for them. Well, thank you, Bruce.

The music ends up being in a sort ofnew-age-world-fusion-chill-out style that works well for this purpose. Terra Guitarra music has always had a littlefaint keyboards and drums or percussion (or both) in the background, plus somebass and occasional flutes. This albumhas all that, but Hecksel’s rhythm-guitar partner in this duo, Julie Patchouli,is perhaps heard a little less than usual, and the keyboards here are also usedto set up the percussive rhythm patterns. There are wood flutes on four tunes and they seem to be featured morethan usual (usually in a duet with the lead guitar). But the main selling point is still intactand that is Hecksel’s solos and acoustic-guitar runs and figures weaving theirway over the top of the sound. Thatalone is worth the price of admission. Speaking of admission, go see this group live if they come to play inyour area (they apparently do a lot of winter gigs throughout Florida and willbe headed to Europe and even China in the future). They play 200 shows a year so they are polished,seasoned professionals who put on an entertaining show (examples are onyoutube).