Bajo El Sol
2008 / Saulitomusic
Review by Kathy Parsons
Bajo El Sol (“Under the Sun”) is the exciting debut CD by guitarist Russ Hewitt. A longtime rock guitarist from Texas, Hewitt has also been playing nuevo flamenco for the past ten years. A graduate of North Texas University with a degree in classical performance, Hewitt is also a seasoned studio musician. Inspired by a backpacking trip through Europe and travels in Turkey, China, and Egypt as well as the experience of playing with musicians in those countries, Hewitt calls his style “Latin World.” Impeccably recorded with a bright, sparkling sound, the music is rhythmic and upbeat, overflowing with the joy of making music. Hewitt is nothing less than a guitar virtuoso, and his lightning-fast runs sound effortless. His band is also top-notch: drummer Walfredo Reyes, Jr., percussionist Raphael Padilla, bassist Bob Parr, and flamenco guitar prodigy Alfredo Caceres. A stellar group!
All ten pieces on Bajo El Sol are exceptional, but I’ll tell you a bit about my favorites. The title track begins the CD with a burst of energy and good humor. Starting with atmospheric sounds and gentle orchestration behind the guitar, “Lydia” alternates between playful and dancing to a more pensive mood, ending with her carefree dance as it trails off into the distance. As its title implies, “Tranquillo” is calm and peaceful with a strong but gentle rhythm that keeps it moving. “Inger” is a sensous beauty that sways to the exotic beat and fancy guitar finger work. I love “El Beso” (The Kiss), which is a little bit darker, very passionate, and has a gorgeous melody. Steel drums in the background give it a tropical flavor. “Simatai (View From The Great Wall)” creates the feeling of a quickening pulse when faced with something truly awesome - majesty blended with humility. “Ojos Bonitos” is hypnotic with its intoxicating rhythm and intensity. “Byzantine” pulls out all the stops, blending Latin and Middle Eastern musical motifs into an exciting fusion that really cooks. This is a great piece for cranking up the volume and letting the music envelop you.
I’m sure Bajo El Sol is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for Russ Hewitt. His music is superlative and he has the sultry good looks of a superstar. Look out world, here he comes! Bajo El Sol is available from CD Baby, Amazon downloads, and iTunes. I give this one both thumbs up and expect it to be a favorite for 2009. Bravo!
January 28, 2009