The Sound Cafe
Vanguard Of Nuevo Flamenco Music, Acclaimed Guitarist Russ Hewitt, Has Released 'Chasing Horizons'
By Michael Debagge.
The Nuevo Flamenco movement is a transcendent art form, one that fuses old traditions with a more modern aesthetic. Russ Hewitt has been at the vanguard of this movement since 2008. Based in Dallas, TX Hewitt is one of the region’s most well-known proponents of this genre. And with his new release, he has elevated this form, which will surely awaken and envelop audiences with vibrant sound. To be sure, the Nuevo Flamenco guitar scene has celebrated artists who have forged this aesthetic. Hewitt is indeed a leading light in this vibrant community. With his musical background rooted in rock, Hewitt’s fluid guitar work sets him apart. His album Chasing Horizons is a watershed project for Nuevo Flamenco. Russ Hewitt impressed the fans world over with his debut recording Bajo El Sol (2008) and has been diligently honing his craft. With his strong follow up Alma Vieja (2011) and his last recording Cielo Nocturno (2016), is a continuation of this artists development as a virtuoso. Chasing Horizons continues to exceed all expectations. This album is an experience, a 10-track journey through samba, montuno, milonga, fatback, rumba Flamenco, guajira, and four-on-the-floor grooves. It begins with his breezy and steady, fluid and melodic “Allende”. Close your eyes as you just might hear the rustling of palm leaves as you sit on your mental warm sandy beach of choice. With a total of four tracks with Hewitt in the spotlight, he is equal to the task of making this album so inviting more so than anything he has done in the past. Check out the radiant “Luminous” or later in the album the brooding moody “Serein”. But it would be silly to talk all things Russ when he was kind enough to invite others to the musical banquet where they graciously accepted. First up is the appearance of NUNO BETTENCOURT, best known for his axeslinger work in the unique rock band Extreme. However, here Nuno trades in his electric strings for nylon ones and Hewitt goes toe to toe with Nuno on the title track. With a rumba flamenco number in 7/8 time signature the composition certainly has an underlying attitude and bite. Add the equally impressive “Vivir Libre” featuring former Megadeth guitarist MARTY FRIEDMAN to a montuno rhythm and you have the one-two punch of impressive collaborations. The smoother mid paced “Amor Perdido” featuring the BUCHAREST ALL-STAR ORCHESTRA is perfectly sequenced for a timely change of pace and mood. Meanwhile, we transition to “Sunset Samba” featuring JORGE STRUNZ who brings to mind the heady days of Deodato. This is later followed with the toe tapping sway of “Cubalia Café” featuring Hewitt and ARDESHIR FARAH where there is magic in this magnificent merger of musical styles. Russ Hewitt leaves us with his most unique and impressive collaboration to date by concluding the album with TRI NGUYEN. This is where East merges with West featuring Nguyen’s Vietnamese zither work (sounds like a hybrid of an Indian sitar and Japanese coda) fusing with Hewitt’s sublime guitar work. It is this very unique collaboration that reflects an artist willing to take chances seeking growth in his compositional capabilities. Chasing Horizons shows an artist intentional in his convictions and sphere of creativity.