Alma Vieja Review

Alma Vieja ~ CD Review by Scott Thomas

Ok now... What is this music coming through my speakers today...? Oh yeah, I like this with the rumba flamenco rhythms and lightning guitar runs. I see myself on an island down in the Caribbean frolicking on the white sandy beaches along an emerald ocean as the warm, moist trade winds blow through my hair. The first tune out of the gate "Pelorhino" comes at you in this fashion. 

‘Alma Vieja’ is the latest CD from guitar virtuoso Russ Hewitt. The album also includes a stellar line up of backing musicians. Former Miami Sound Machine percussionist Raphael Padilla and drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. (who in his time has played with both Santana and Ricky Martin) are both around to lend a hand and are joined by bass player Bob Parr and exciting flamenco guitar prodigy Alfredo Caceres. 

The next muse is a song called "Samba Samba", and as you can tell by the name, "it is what it is"...  Smooth Jazz DJ’s are sure to be playing this on their radio-friendly stations. The production here is tight, absolutely clean, neat and free from blemishes. This is ‘feel-good’ music for the mind and soul.

Other significant contributions come from the Grammy award-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat (who has graced the stage with heavyweights such as The Rolling Stones, Yanni and Aerosmith) and, perhaps most notably, contemporary jazz saxophonist Michael Lington who features on the first single released to radio. And let’s not forget to mention the easy grooving horn inspired "Pacific Sunrise", which has already made the Top 40 on the Smooth Jazz charts.

The next vibe up to bat is "Dhanyavard". Hewitt melds these fresh Flamenco styles with Latin jazz motifs. Here you'll find this challenging but playful track featuring Charlie Bisharat on violin. The warm tones are light-hearted and exquisite to say the least. This album needs to be in your car’s road hazard / first-aid kit for those 'just in case' excruciating and painful traffic jams. A few doses from these fine exotic, enthusiastic tracks will have you energized in good fashion.

I was looking at the Maestro's official website and couldn't help but noticed all of the remarkable reviews he has gotten across the globe. I have talked with Russ on the phone myself to find that he's from the school of Randy Rhodes and Shred-Guitar. After a few listens here, you will have a hard time in your mind's eye connecting these two worlds. However, he can shred that ol' acoustic nylon and steel guitar like nobody's business. His chops are very tasty and full of twists and turns like a sweet colorful liquorice stick.

The album slows down a little with the dissident musing "Gabriela mi Corazon". This reminds me of my early listening days of Al Di Meola as with his rich tunes “Gypsy” and the last song "Soldade".  Next there are the contemporary sounds of “Miss Mimi” with a nice hum-along melody line. 

The rest of the album is very cohesive in nature as with the first half. Again, the melodies, textures and guitar-centric sounds are robust with joyous energy, liveliness and vitality. 

Parting Shot Across the Bow: A passionate enthusiastic album full of Flamenco exhilarations and zeal. So get your cha-cha shoes on and let's Tango...  My favorites are "Moonlake Drive" “Gypsy” and "Soladade".

Song Titles:

1. Pelorhino  

2. Samba Samba  

3. Pacific Sunrise 

4. Dhanyavad  

5. Gabriela Mi Corazon  

6. Miss Mimi  

7. Moonlake Drive 

8. Las Cruces  

9. Gypsy  

10.Tango For Ahn  


Russ Hewitt Band
Blending Latin, jazz, and flamenco styles, guitarist Russ Hewitt conjures up an oasis of hypnotic sounds. Hewitt's lightning runs on guitar and strong "rumba flamenco" rhythms are fused with Arabic and Indian textures. His evocative instrumental music speaks volumes. Cuts from his recently released CD, Bajo El Sol, reached the top 15 on Smooth Jazz Indie Charts and was nominated for the 52nd Grammy Awards in five categories! With over 220 shows and festivals this calendar year, Russ Hewitt is ready to step into the spotlight.