Russ Hewitt’s debut, Bajo el Sol
, was one of my favorite albums of 2009, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating his follow-up. I’m very happy to say that his Alma Vieja
does not disappoint! Quite the contrary! Backed by a group of stellar musicians, Hewitt returns with a dazzling collection of eleven original compositions in what he refers to as a Latin/World style that incorporates rhythms and influences Hewitt assimilated while traveling extensively to other parts of the world and sitting in with musicians of varying cultures and musical backgrounds. His own background includes a degree in classical guitar performance and years of playing with rock bands. Add some strong jazz influences, and you have an idea of the versatility of this artist. His backing musicians, who have plenty of room to shine on this album, include Alfredo Caceres on rhythm and harmony guitar, Walfredo Reyes Jr. on drums, Rafael Padilla on percussion, Bob Parr on bass, Michael Lington on sax, Charlie Bisharat on violin, and Ivan Torres on drums.
begins with “Pelourinho,” a bright and sparkling piece with infectious rhythms and very impressive guitar licks. “¡Samba Samba!” playfully continues with a relaxed, swaying energy. “Pacific Sunrise” should become a smooth jazz favorite with its easy flow, great sax work, and feeling of warm contentment. “Gabriela Mi Corazon” is a sweetly passionate love song in a slow, sensual tempo. “Miss Mimi” is light and breezy and sounds like fun to play. The improv near the end is especially note-worthy - smokin’! I love “Moonlake Drive,” one of the slower pieces that again has a relaxed energy that inspires toe-tapping and swaying to the beat. Hewitt dazzles with his flawless lightning-fast runs. “Las Cruces” slows it down to an elegant slow dance tempo that is graceful and soulful. “Gypsy” is free-spirited and joyful. The slow, smoldering “Tango for Ahn” has a gorgeous guitar melody and brilliant solos. Love it! “Soldade” closes out the set with a lovely ballad that touches the heart and leaves the listener ready to hit the “repeat” button to play the album again!
Bravo to Russ Hewitt for his second guitar masterpiece! Alma Vieja
is available from russhewittmusic.com
, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!