Guitarist Ciro Hurtado Draws Inspiration From Andes Mountains High Plains Region


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Ciro Hurtado is a musician with a lovely style. Because he was born and raised in Peru (now living in California), his style still has lots of the Andes Mountains influences which he grew up on (tempered a bit with music he has heard from around the world ranging from rock’n’roll to jazz and classical). Hurtado is a guitarist, primarily playing nylon-string Latin-style acoustic, but he also is an accomplished songwriter, arranger and producer. He shows his stuff on his tenth album, Altiplano. It features a wonderful blend of Peruvian high-mountain folk music influences (both in his style of guitar playing but also with the native wood flutes and percussion supporting him, plus the fact that he gets three different Spanish-language female singers to sing absolutely lovely, gentle and delicate vocals on a trio of numbers).

Two tunes -- the lead-off “Machu Picchu” and “Recuerdos” -- feature a small group sound that includes keyboards. Two other numbers -- the title tune “Altiplano” and the vocal song “El Ayaymama” -- feature a cello, of all things, but it is a sound that works admirably with Hurtado’s acoustic guitar. The latter tune, by the way, is based on a child’s tale which has been around so long a South American bird was named after it. This real bird sings four notes (in perfect harmony) so Hurtado based the melody on those notes. Strange, but true. The flutes on the album are played by Hurtado’s wife, Cindy Harding, and they entwine perfectly with his guitar on most of the tracks except for four solo guitar tunes. These need to be mentioned because each is amazing in their own right. “Ciudad del Lago” is sort of a South American standard that apparently is quite complex and difficult to play (it sure sounds like it), but Hurtado says he spent several years practicing it until he felt comfortable recording it. “Andean Heart” captures many of his Andes Mountains’ influences (where the acoustic guitar is a popular instrument along with flutes and percussion). Then there is the soft and delicately-played “Entre las Estrellas,” just a little beauty of a tune. He finishes the album with a solo instrumental version of the classic “The House of the Rising Sun” that he makes his own so much that you can barely recognize the famous melody enveloped in his Andean rhythms and picking.

No one can get every album released so we have to be choosy about what we buy or even stream. But if you like great acoustic guitar, or a little Latin-influenced world-fusion music, then you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Well worth the effort to track down.