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Russ Hewitt – Cielo Nocturno

June 2, 2016

While it’s only been since 2008 that smooth jazz/rumba flamenco guitarist Russ Hewitt strolled onto the scene with his magical essence that has mesmerized many since then, it feels like he’s been with us so much longer. I guess that’s because if you—like me—have found yourself humming a Hewitt melody without even really knowing it, it shows what an impact his work has had on the discriminating ear.

Since his debut release Bajo El Sol, Hewitt’s worldly and eclectic music has certainly consistently held my attention and, I’m sure, the attention of many who appreciate the exoticism and tropical feel of his guitar and the compositions he offers us. Just as Bajo El Sol opened the door for this most talented artist, his sophomore release Alma Vieja opened it even wider. Now, with his latest Cielo Nocturno, that door has been thrown wide open, and the colors just rush out, lay claim to your heart and soul, and proceed to caress them throughout the album.

Cielo Nocturno displays full-bodied and nimble-fingered guitar work as well as a cornucopia of moods and grooves, Listen, for example to the trademark flamenco flavor of the lead track “Presidio,” then check out the Brazilian flair found in “Samba Sao Paulo,” and the accordion-tinged “Serenidad” which offers a glimpse into the European fabric of this music while maintaining a very cool and funky mid-tempo cadence and that heavy Latin presence.

The album shines further light on the attractiveness of Hewitt’s continued hold on the vibrancy of flamenco coupled with jazz with tracks like the catchy, sexy/funky, and spirited “San Elizario” and the very fun “Cervezas and Cigars.” Much presence and allure here.

Legendary guitarist Larry Carlton joins in on the melodic mid-tempo “North of Home,” offering his perfected brand of quality jazz chops as he saunters through this piece with the confidence of knowing you are following him. A very smart move by Hewitt in bringing this icon aboard.

Much more charm and happy vibes follow on this third installment from Hewitt. It is a powerful statement from the guitarist that shouts out “I’m here to stay and am just getting warmed up.” Well, I am and have been a believer. This is not one to miss for the true aficionado of the intricacies and flavors of smooth jazz and its close comrades we know as subgenres. Two thumbs up to Hewitt…again. – Ronald Jackson