Two years ago, Denver musician Cipriano Ortega was watching an episode of The Sopranos when he heard Morphine’s song “Buena,” from the trio’s 1993 album Cure for Pain.
Ortega, who was 28 years old at the time, had never heard the band before, but took a deep dive into Morphine’s music. He was particularly drawn to frontman Mark Sandman’s two-string slide bass, and became so obsessed that he had local luthier Scott Lofquist build him two basses, one of which is a left-hand replica of the instrument played by Sandman, who died from a heart attack during a concert in Italy in 1999.
When Ortega, who plays in a duo called the Two-String Project, heard about ArtHyve’s Record to Record, a series of online panel discussions via Zoom that combine the intellectual atmosphere of a book club with the world of music, he asked the group's founders, Jessie de la Cruz and Sigri Strand, who Ortega says are huge Morphine fans, about doing a discussion on the album as part of the series.
Ortega reached out to Morphine saxophonist Dana Colley, whom Ortega started corresponding with last year over Facebook, about participating in a Record to Record Zoom discussion on Cure for Pain, which starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 25. Colley suggested Morphine’s original drummer, Jerome Deupree, who played on a majority of the songs on Cure for Pain before leaving the band over health issues. Ortega’s Two-String Project bandmate Vitaliy Minyaylo, who plays drums and synthesizer, will also be part of the hour-long discussion hosted by Indie 102.3 assistant program director Bruce Trujillo.
Ortega says that he, Colley, Deupree and Minyaylo will be discussing most of the cuts on Cure for Pain, the album’s production, Sandman’s minimalist approach to the two-string bass, Morphine’s roots in blues and jazz, how emotionally raw Cure for Pain is, and other aspects of the recording.
“It's another realm of emotion that's a bit deeper in the sense of life still is challenging and those painful things that are along the way,” Ortega says. “But there's a sense of comfort and this enduring feeling of Morphine, and I think that's another reason why I'm just a huge fan of their work.”