2016 / Saulitomusic
Review by Kathy Parsons
I reviewed Russ Hewitt’s debut recording, Bajo El Sol, in early 2009, and absolutely loved it (still do!), and included it on my Favorites list for the year. Hewitt’s second release, Alma Vieja, came along in 2011 and was a Favorite for that year as well. Five years later, here comes Cielo Nocturno (Night Sky), and guess what - it’s even better than the two earlier releases! There are plenty of great composer/guitarists out there, but I have to say that Russ Hewitt is one of my top five favorites. His unique musical voice comes partly from his classical training, but is possibly even more influenced by his travels, sitting in with musicians all over the world. Hewitt originally called his music “nuevo flamenco,” and that is still a very big part of his musical style, but that style has expanded to an even broader “Latin world” music genre that incorporates elements of jazz as well as classical, rock, and a variety of cultural influences. In other words, Russ Hewitt’s music is impossible to pigeon-hole - always a plus, in my opinion! Hewitt has a unique musical vision and the playing chops to express whatever he chooses to express. He also has some very impressive guest artists that include Larry Carlton, Ardeshir Farah, Alfredo Caceres, and Bob Parr. Cielo Nocturno is eleven tracks of musical magic, all of which were composed by Russ Hewitt.
The rhythmic and joyful “Presidio” gets Cielo Nocturno started with a big musical grin, letting the listener know that he or she is getting into something very special. “Samba Sao Paulo” brings a smooth and sophisticated attitude, but it still sounds like fun! The addition of accordion (Vladimir Kaliazine) changes the musical flavor of “Serenidad” a bit, and what a tasty bit that is! I really love this one! “San Elizario” is a city in Hewitt’s home state of Texas, and his musical tribute is bright and vibrant. “North of Home” features guitarist Larry Carlton and has been released as the first single from this album - guitar-driven smooth jazz with a strong Latin influence. The tropical “Arenas Blancas” (White Sands) is warm, breezy, and very relaxing. “Cervezas and Cigars” is party music, pure and simple - and another favorite. I think you’d have to tie your foot to your chair to keep it from tapping to the rhythm! Hewitt’s lightning-fast fingers never slow down on this one! The gently-swaying rhythms of “Um Abraco Do Bossa” give a pleasant interlude, as does the beautiful “Brisa de Monte.” “Persian Sky” cranks the intensity back up and features Ardeshir Farah of Strunz and Farah. What a powerhouse of guitar virtuosity with both Farah and Hewitt pulling out all the stops! “Hike to La Cruz” is a gorgeous closing track for a truly great album.
If you are not yet familiar with Russ Hewitt, you need to fix that right now! Cielo Nocturno is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation!
July 29, 2016