A Shaman Enters the Next World: Jorge Reyes’ Last Rattle

It’s been a while since we’ve played any music by Jorge Reyes on Echoes.  Something I now regret upon hearing of his passing this past Saturday, February 7, 2009 from an apparent heart attack.  He was 57. There is an obit on-line.

Suspended Memories - Forgotten Gods Jorge was a big part of Echoes during the techno-tribal days of the early 1990s.  I first heard of him when he collaborated with Steve Roach, who recorded a couple of albums with Jorge as Suspended MemoriesForgotten Gods and Earth Island, classics of the techno-tribal years.

At the time, many musicians were trying to get closer to the original source of music by playing ancient instruments.  But whether they were tapping clay pots or blowing into didgeridoos, few went as far as Jorge Reyes, who played stones and bones, among other ancient artifacts.  Jorge released several solo recordings, that are fairly hard to get in the U.S.  They are often marked by a sonic density and rhythmic intensity that could take you into another world or send you screaming from it.  A good entry to his music might be Mexican Music: Pre-Hispanic or Baho El Sol Jaguar, which are more open and melodic.

Pre-Hispanico I first met Jorge in Steve Roach’s Tucson home for an Echoes Living Room Concert in 1992.  Along with Spanish guitarist Suso Saiz, the three musicians conjured up the spirits in set shrouded in throbbing rhythms, and a cross-referencing of sounds ancient and futuristic.  I caught up with him again at Imaginaria 95, a conference in São Paulo , Brazil produced by Mirna Grzich.  Jorge and his friend, Jose Luis Cruz, took me under their wings in the wilds of São Paulo and gave me the best possible time.  My last contact with them was eating breakfast in Manhattan after our red-eye flight back.  It seemed like I’d made a longtime friendship, but sadly that was our last interaction.

We produced a really nice feature on Jorge in 1995, based on my interviews with him in Sao Paulo that also includes a bit of his live performance there.  If you want to hear a musicians who touched the beyond, give it a spin. Jorge Reyes Echoes Interview 1995

I was also surprised to discover some video footage of Jorge on YouTube.  They all find him in a much more primitive, acoustic state than I remember him playing, but then, it had been a while.  The long shots are murky, but wait for the close-ups.

Here’s another video that I didn’t realize existed. It’s a 10:00 excerpt from the 1992 Echoes Living Room Concert with Suspended Memories. There wasn’t much light, so the video itself is pretty dark, but the music is intense.

Jorge Reyes was a remarkable presence.  Gentle, sweet and unaffected offstage, a possessed ritualistic performer onstage.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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