American Gypsy introduces itself with about 15 seconds of rumbling instrumental noise, the equivalent of an outsider orchestra tuning, before the opening blues figure of "Oh Berta, Berta" falls down from Tony Furtado's guitar. In those early moments, a new direction is named for Furtado, a bluegrass virtuoso and genre-bending master whose 1997 release, Roll My Blues Away, introduced his perfection of the slide guitar and move away from traditional roots-style composition.
Santana is the primary exponent of Latin-tinged rock, particularly due to its combination of Latin percussion with bandleader Carlos Santana's distinctive, high-pitched lead guitar playing. The group was the last major act to emerge from the psychedelic San Francisco music scene of the 1960s and it enjoyed massive success at the end of the decade and into the early '70s. In 1998, Santana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band has earned nine Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards, the latter all in 2000. Carlos also won a Grammy Award as a solo artist in 1988. Santana has sold more than 90 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling groups of all time.
Slide guitar and banjo whiz Tony Furtado's fourth album in four years (for his fourth label) is a perfect encapsulation of how his sound has grown. Encompassing folk, blues, funk, and jazz, the disc kicks off with a seven-minute jam on "False Hearted Lover" featuring Paul McCandless on reeds (a recent addition to the American Gypsies). The ex-Oregon member adds unique East Indian snake-charmer scales as the group churns up a frothy backing. It, like most of these live performances of tunes taken predominantly from Furtado's past two releases, leaves the studio versions in the dust. Furtado's dusky vocals resonate with a successful combination of pathos and intensity, neither detracting from, nor overwhelming the crack playing at this album's heart.