CD REVIEW: New Latitude - Convergence
By Cyrus Rhodes - 11/05/2014 - 07:54 PM EST
Artist: New Latitude
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic jazz
Sounds Like: The Rippingtons, Paco de Lucia. Acoustic Alchemy, California Guitar Trio, Dominic Miller, Adrian Leg
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: 14 & Green, No Matter What, Seven falls, Fleeting Passage
Weakness: Beats and Rhythms, more instrumentation, Short sided Songs
Guitarists and composers Dave Erickson and Jim Carr started New Latitude to play original music and share their passion for instrumental acoustic guitar music. Their CD “Convergence" is 100% original music with great synergy and acoustic guitar interplay on every song. GUEST MUSICIANS: Eduardo Bijoux Barbosa: Acoustic bass (on all songs except No Matter What) David Young: Drums and percussion (on all songs except Seven Falls and Eastern Square) Deon Kuhl: Drums (on Seven Falls and Eastern Square). CD was released in 2014.
The CD wastes no time getting off the ground with gently takes to flight with “New Day” an intoxicating intro piece that flows and ebbs its way through to musical fruition serving up impressive fretwork exuberance against atypical Smooth Jazz fretwork and subsequent vibe that gently leads you by the hand. Track 2 “Sunset” is a melodic follow up piece that serves up impressive guitar-driven balladry against fluid guitar and easy to follow Smooth Jazz rhythmic overtones. Track 3 “Trailblazing” presents a more mainstream melody with its methodical intro, meshed against impassioned solo guitar and hypnotic groove that’s easy to digest. The CD makes a great first impression providing 3 solid musical experiences in a row. Musical textures reminiscent of the typical Gold Standard Smooth Jazz with an acoustic guitar flair. I can also hear a dash of Blues, Americana and even Classical woven within the fabric of the music. As the CD slowly unfolds you will notice most of the songs are quite dynamic reminiscent of The Rippingtons, Peter White, Chuck Loeb, Steve Oliver, Camaron da la Isla, The Rippingtons, Paco de Lucia. Acoustic Alchemy, California Guitar Trio, Dominic Miller, Adrian Legg. Each piece possesses crystal clear high end clarity, solid low end punch with American-Jazz guitar chops that will make your head spin. Along the musical journey one will experience well-placed electronic percussive accents, impressive acoustic guitar chops, impressive and melodic solo segments, eloquent, strings and easy to follow beats. Now turning our attention over to Erikson and Carr. As for their playing abilities let me just go on record to say they brilliantly fuses all of the aforementioned musical styles via their acoustic guitar. Some of the material could even be marketed as Smooth Jazz radio formats reminiscent of Russ Freeman and The Rippingtons. This dynamic Duo is on to something here as he navigates through each piece flawlessly. Both Erikson and Carr are master guitarists/soloists and clearly knows how to fill the sonic space with amazing playing that flows across the ears like fine wine. At times can be passionate, aggressive and tenacious, hypnotic and passionate - other times fluid and flowing. The music itself goes down smooth and fills the atmosphere with what I would describe as peaceful Americana Smooth Jazz tranquility. All in all the CD has some truly impressive moments showcasing impressive playing, world Class songwriting, playing, chops and dynamic grooves all rich in melody and flavor. From flowing “14 & Green” to hypnotic “Fleeting Passage” to invigorating ”Foothills Wonder” to relaxing “Reflections” to grooving “No Matter What” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 “Best of Times” the prefect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
My biggest complaint - the beats and rhythms featured are overly conservative, extremely predictable (all in 4/4) thus lacking variety, frequency and depth. I don’t recall hearing any percussion. Drums and beats are kind of buried within the mix. CD lacks thick low end frequency and punch in this regard. Some of this is par for the course for Smooth Jazz no doubt. These 2 really should consider bringing more drums and percussion to the table next time. This will bring even more rhythmic variety, layering, and depth to the music. If they can do this “New Latitude” would reach its full potential. More instrumentation is also needed. Brief touches of Mandolin, additional, percussion, Violin, Cello, Piano would also add more musical variety. You will note all the instruments I just mentioned are acoustic. Track 6 and 11 feel like an incomplete statement to me.
After spending some quality time with “Convergence” by New Latitude it's hard to find any solid weaknesses worth mentioning. Instead as the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with the production as a whole. CD refuses to try too hard and is in itself an impressive musical production from start to finish. There’s not really a weak song on this entire catalog period! The songs are infectious, catchy and cover a wide range of musical styles. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Both Dave Erikson and Jim Carr are not only a world class players, they are also both talented musical visionaries not afraid to push the acoustical musical boundaries to the maximum.
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