An Interview with Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah
by Dan Liss
Pioneering virtuosic instrumental guitar duo plays original compositions with improvisations. Always backed by an international ensemble of world-class musicians, they are a very powerful and popular live act. The music is their original blend of flamenco, Afro-Latin and Latin folk, Middle Eastern and jazz forms. Their CDs Primal Magic and Américas have attained the top position on Billboard's World Music chart and have received a Grammy nomination in the World Music category, respectively, selling over 350,000 units each. Heat of the Sun, spent 4 months in the top 10 of the World Music chart. Together for over 24 years, Strunz & Farah have sold over a million records and have profoundly influenced acoustic guitarists worldwide.
DL: You are from two very different parts of the world, Costa Rica and Iran. How did you meet?
AF: I heard Jorge play when he had another band, and I thought I'd like to play with him. I had moved to Los Angeles to go to the university, and after the revolution, I didn't want to go back. Another person that I had known in London who also played guitar gave me his number and I called him. That was in 1979.
DL: The style you play seems more than just flamenco. What would you call it?
JS: Most people when they think of acoustic guitar and fingerpicking styles, automatically use the term flamenco, although there is rumba and other styles within the whole repertoire of Spanish guitar playing. Maybe we could call it more Afro-Latin, but I would say that our style is more of a world music than any one culture.
DL: You don't seem to make a lot of eye contact onstage. How do you keep such a tight interplay going?
JS: It is in the timing of the measures. We know when to solo and come back by the beats. That is the way we switch cycles.
DL: What inspires your compositions?
JS: Many of them come from the terrain of my home in Costa Rica, nature and the seasons. Emotions bring out tenderness and broaden the range of the music.
DL: You originally recorded for other labels and now you have your own. How has that worked out for you?
JS: With most labels, you are just one of the groups they represent and they can't afford to put too much time into any one group's music. Now that we have our own company, we have people who really care about our music and spend all their attention on just helping us to market our music and make it better known. So they can really concentrate their efforts better. This seems to work for us.
Mosaico, 1982, Gitano, 1991, Mesa, 1997, Selva
Frontera, 1984, Milestone
Guitarras, 1985, Milestone
Misterio, 1989, Waterlily Acoustics/AudioQuest
Primal Magic, 1990, Mesa, 1999 Selva
Américas, 1992, Mesa, 1999 Selva
Heat of the Sun, 1995, Selva
Live, 1997, Selva
Wild Muse, 1998, Selva
Best of Strunz & Farah, 2000, Selva
Stringweave, 2001, Selva
Strunz & Farah In Performance DVD, 2003, Selva
Rio de Colores, 2003, Selva
Zona Tórrida, 2004, Selva
Desert Guitars, 2005, Selva
Jungle Guitars, 2006, Selva
Check out their website at: http://www.strunzandfarah.com/