Sunday, March 23, 2014

CD Review: Doug Hewitt: Roots in the Sky

Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by: Doug Hewitt at Motif Recording Studio, Amherst, Ma 2014.
Personnel: Doug Hewitt-guitars, bass, keys, percussion, vocals.  Mitch Pine-piano, organ.
Rudi Weeks-bass.  Joe Fitzpatrick-drums.  Bill Shontz-alto/tenor sax, clarinet, flute.  Frank Newton-alto sax.  Michael Akrep-baritone horn.  Dave Bilodeau-trumpets, flugelhorn.  Stephen Katz-cello.  David Tasgal-violin, cello.  Arielle Parkington-viola.  Megan Rollins-harmony vocals.  Danielle Lorenzo-harmony vocals.

Western Massachusetts guitarist/singer Doug Hewitt has put his romantic heart and soul into this most recent offering.  Roots in the Sky comprises ten solid jazz/rock originals by Hewitt as well as a lovely rendition of the jazz staple I'll Remember April which is a seamless fit with the rest of the program.  For this outing, Hewitt called in a sizable cast of other local professionals to ensure that his compositions would be fully realized.  The love and workmanship invested in each tune is evident, the end result being a musically complex yet totally accessible experience for the listener.  Different combinations of ensemble players were used throughout, the effect being sustained diversity, color and interest from start to finish.

 I spoke to Doug Hewitt during the writing of this piece to get a sense of his creative process.  He told me that conceptually this collection has been in the works ever since Picasso Tomato and that he essentially composed the work in its entirety, then negotiated solo space with the players in the studio.  He was enthusiastic about the contributions of his players, who both honored his vision for the project while bringing there own creativity to the process.  

This was not Mr. Hewitt's first rodeo by any means; he has been writing songs since he first picked up a guitar back in 1970.  He produced an earlier collection of his music ( Picasso Tomato, also available at CD Baby) in 2006, as well as earlier ventures with the Zen Cats.  And Zen cat he is, with subject matter that runs the gamut from existential concerns to a love affair with the Cosmos and the love of a woman right down here on Earth.  All that love has made for a beautiful listening experience.  I look forward to the next one.

Richard Mayer


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