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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Russ Hewitt

Chasing Horizons

Review by Gary Hill

I previously reviewed another set from Russ Hewitt. That one was an instrumental album featuring Latin guitar in arrangements that occupy a space between Latin music and fusion. This shares much with that album. It's a strong release that always manages to entertain. There are a number of guests included on this disc, most notably for readers of MSJ Marty Friedman (best known for his work in Megadeth) and Nuno Bettencourt (of Extreme fame).

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Track by Track Review
The guitar playing on this is intricate and flavorful. There is a real Latin groove to this thing. I would consider this to be a blend of fusion and world music. It's also compelling and strong.
Chasing Horizon (feat. Nuno Bettencourt)
While the general concept isn't all that altered, this has more of a pure fusion groove to it. The Spanish guitar on this is positively incendiary.
Vivir Libre (feat. Marty Friedman)
I really love the instrumental interplay on this number so much. The musical tapestry isn't changed much, but there is a cool swing and sway to this, and it's just packed full of melodic magic.
Amor Perdido (feat. Bucharest All-Star Orchestra)
With a lusher arrangement comes an almost symphonic prog motif. This has some great changes. It's packed full of drama, charm and style. This might be my favorite tune here. It just has so much going on, and seems to hit so many check-boxes for me.
Atmospherics give way to some slower moving guitar to open the track. It works out from there with a more mainstream groove. That said, this is still packed full of fusion and Latin elements.
Sunset Samba (feat. Jorge Strunz)
For some reason, the instrumental work on this speaks to me on a higher level than some of the other pieces do. The cut has such great expressiveness, and it just flows so effortlessly. Yet, it also has some of the fastest playing of the whole album, too. This is definitely another of my favorites here.
The jamming on this becomes so intense. Yet the Latin fusion concepts keep it firmly rooted and flowing in a mellower mode.
Cubalia Café (feat. Ardeshir Farah)
A percussive vibe that makes me think of Steely Dan starts this. Tue cut quickly transforms into the kind of Latin based music one expects here from there. This is energetic and quite entertaining.
Intricate and enchanting, this is another fine example of the kind of Latin based instrumental work we've come to expect here. This has some parts that lean toward more mainstream music melodically.
Return to Simitai (feat. Tri Nguyen)
This number is packed with even more magic. It brings some Asian musical elements instead of the Latin ones. Well, I suppose it's more like "in addition to," but honestly the Latin textures take a back seat here. This is a big slab of variety right at the end of the album.
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