Strunz and Farah, "Heat of the Sun"

Selva - DDD SV-CD 1001

Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah have been playing together since 1979. Both play acoustic nylon-string guitars: a fiery partnership of solos and harmonies with a backing of latin rhythm and bass that makes up the unique sound of Strunz and Farah. Their recordings reflect the temperature of their live shows. Amazing. Burning. Melodic. Hot.

Of the terms that have been used to describe the music of Strunz and Farah, "Latin guitar" is probably the best - if you remember that the Latin language came from the ancient empire that stretched way across Europe and into the Middle East - and if you remember the Latin culture of Central America... and if you include the musical styles of Spanish flamenco and the Camargue gypsies, and the stringed instruments of the Persian and Arab worlds... and if you remember that Central America pulses to the beat of the tango and rumba and to the flowing of the Caribbean seas and the native breeze from the Andes... and if you don't forget that jazz has left traces here, and there, and everywhere... yes, Latin Guitar is just about right...

But each time I read about Strunz and Farah, I read another attempt to define their musical style - and I'd rather not try. I'll just encourage you to listen to them play: they make music, good music, memorable music: better than that.

Listening to "Heat of the Sun" is sometimes like walking barefoot on a summer street. You can't keep your feet still, you have to dance. Your body has to sway like a palm tree in a breeze. Your fingers have to tap and snap like castanets. The music carries you away.

Jorge Strunz was born in Costa Rica. Ardeshir Farah was born n Iran. Between them they've also lived in Columbia, Spain, England, Mexico, Canada, the USA - and some of the musical heritage of each of these countries is evident in their compositions. The virtuosity of the flamenco guitarist and the spacious sounds of the Middle East blending and dancing on fire.

As with their previous recordings, "Heat of the Sun" is a brightly-coloured mosaic of music: listen closely, and you hear the melodic intricacy of each player, each part: Jorge's and Ardeshir's articulate and stunning guitar solos and their harmonious duets: the bass line weaving in and out and around the percussion and drums. Then focus on the whole sound and you have a beautiful picture. Like noon in the sun and a cloud of fireflies at midnight. A million sparkling streams flowing into one rhythmical ocean of sound. Cicadas and crickets and the sound of summer.

This new collection from Strunz and "Farah is the first release since "Americas" in 1992. There are eleven beautifully-played, well-produced numbers: if I were forced to choose one melody from the CD, it would be "Anaconda", because it IS Strunz and Farah: both latin and eastern, rapid and smooth. An Amazonian snake dancing, charmed, enthralled. But I don't want to choose. I'll take them all.

"The Heat of the Sun". Close your eyes and listen. Feel it warm... feel it burn. Feel the pulse race, the perspiration trickling... there's a small town square baking under a midday sky: the floor is dust, the air doesn't breathe. A man is sleeping in the shade of a porch, hat over his eyes, chair tilted back, boots resting on the wooden fence, spurs mirroring the sun. An old woman dressed all in black closes faded blue shutters and retreats to siesta. Two dogs doze by the fountain. A turquoise bird sips water and blinks. The distance wrinkles in the haze.

This is the heat of the sun. This is the burning...

And then, a rainbow erupts, a fiesta, a dream...

Two guitarists start playing. Their music bright as a stunning flamenco dancer and his bride; dancing together and apart, entwined, one. And someone is beating the drums in the rhythm of life: the rhythm of a growing and flowering jungle, the rhythm of day and night. And a violin flowing like a cooling breeze on the back of a sparkling stream. This is Strunz and Farah. This is the heat of the sun.

Look! The cowboy is dancing with the lady in black! The square is alive with dancing people: it's a swirling rainbow, powered by the sun. Flamenco red and gypsy orange, jungle green and ocean blue. Alive. Awake. Amazing. Beautiful.

"Heat of the Sun". Listen to it. Dance to it. Live it. And smile.

Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah: guitars
Eliseo Borrero: bass
Paul Tchounga: drums
Long John Oliva: percussion
Luis Conte: percussion
Ibrahim Parreno: keyboards
Charolie Bisharat: violin

Produced by Jorge Strunz, Ardeshir Farah and Kathlyn Powell

Published in Jazz Online, 1995