Brand new for 2011, ‘Alma Vieja’ is the latest CD from guitar virtuoso Russ Hewitt. Replete with the rumba flamenco rhythms and lightning guitar runs that have become trademarks of his distinctive style ‘Alma Vieja’ 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. 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, the easy grooving ‘Pacific Sunrise’, which has already made the Top 40 on the Smooth Jazz charts.
It was in late 2008 that Hewitt released his debut CD ‘Bajo el Sol’. Typified by fierce Latin rhythms and infectious contemporary jazz grooves the album garnered the kind of critical acclaim to suggest this talented player was already on the road to musical stardom.
With favorable opinion rapidly translating into prolific air-play, the recording enjoyed a ten week stay at #1 on the Music Choice satellite - cable television smooth jazz play-list and maintained a constant presence on the Smooth Jazz indie charts for over 16 weeks. The first track to be released to radio (the dazzlingly Latin flavored title cut) climbed into the top 20 and the two that followed enjoyed similar success. ‘Lydia’ peaked at #15 and stormed onto the Billboard's Top 40 while ‘El Beso’ also made it onto that same Top 40 listing.
In addition, ‘Bajo el Sol’ made the first cut for the 52nd Grammy Awards in the categories Best Pop Instrumental Performance, Best Pop Instrumental Album, Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Engineered Album (in the non-classical section). The tune ‘El Beso’ was included in the www.smoothjazznow.com Top 75 Smooth Jazz Songs of 2009 and, most significantly, from a field of 15,000 applicants, Russ Hewitt gained an ‘Honorable Mention’ for the title song ‘Bajo el Sol’ in the Instrumental Music category at the 2009 International Songwriting Competition.
Since then, with endorsements from Analysis Plus Cables, Morley Pedals, Godin guitars, BBF pedal boards and DSL effects plus a monthly column in the guitar magazine ‘The Sound’, Hewitt continues to extend his boundaries yet his latest project represents a significant milestone. He has followed his musical dream from an early age and made a conscience decision never to put material things ahead of his passion for music. Influenced by many techniques and always guided by a relentless pursuit of guitar excellence he has arrived at the enviable position in his life where he is able to play in a variety of styles, at a range of tempo’s, interact with great players and make a living from doing it.
Not only that, Hewitt firmly believes that as a guitar player he is the accumulation of everything he has previously learned. Consequently he feels an immense affinity with the music that he writes. ‘Bajo el Sol’ translates literally to ‘Under The Sun’ and since the release of the album Hewitt has found that, for him, the sun has never stepped shining. Now, with ‘Alma Vieja’, it is certain that the warm glow of attention will once again be very much on Russ Hewitt.