Release Date: January 20, 2020 Label: New Latitude Music
Dave Erickson (acoustic guitar), Jim Carr (acoustic guitar), Deon Kuhl (drums & percussion) and Rick Brough (upright bass) are New Latitude. The former bass player Bob Strickland played on 5 tracks. Their latest release is Wood, Steel, and Grace.
This would serve as my introduction and a new discovery, so that starts things off with a lot of anticipation. After reading some history of the band I could tell it was going to be something I would enjoy.
The cover of the album is wood with various colorings, just like the music you will hear on this recording It is acoustic instrumental with a melting pot of styles and genres offered on the nine tracks. New Age, Jazz, and Latin flavored tracks flow effortlessly through their instruments.
I have a kinship for Latin music and “Días Calientes” was a quick favorite. There is that irresistible and colorful rhythm that runs through the song along with some very fast acoustic guitar playing. If they could have picked one spotlight track for the album this would be it. The musical gusto of each member of the band is quite impressive and when all of their talents come together it is like a musical carnival of sounds.
“Open Road” is a jazz track, the embodiment of the “quiet storm” label minus the R&B reference. It is a distinct sub-genre of that particular kind of music. The transition from the previous track is perfectly executed and a reminder that the genres are close cousins in the diverse genre that jazz can give a listener.
“A Serious Man” is a fast-moving track featuring uplifting nimble-fingered guitar interplay. It is a wonderful listen that also spotlights the unmistakable standup bass with well-placed percussion. The choice for bass is excellent for this type of acoustic instrumental presentation, it complements the guitar playing and is the driving wheel of each track.
“Old Friends” was more of New Age style, it reminded me of some of the Windham Hill releases that came out when Will Ackerman was signing on artists to his label and getting this kind of music a world stage. Now the stage is infinite because of the internet and streaming, which is a good thing for any artist looking for exposure. The title of the track was perfect, it was like seeing an “Old Friend.”
The curtain closer “Prismatic Sky,” which also had a New Age sound and atmosphere and consequently was an easy choice to add to my New Age Music Reviews Spotify Playlist. It was a great way to end the album.
The range of musical style and expertise on display throughout the nine tracks is superb and I would most definitely appreciate another helping of this at any time. This is music for any time of day or night, or if you happen to be looking for something that will put a smile on your face and in your heart, then I would recommend listening to Wood, Steel, and Grace.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 1, 2020
1. Alpine Bliss (3:10)
2. Cruising Altitude (3:42)
3. Días Calientes (4:31)
4. Open Road (3:40)
5. Alpenglow (3:37)
6. A Serious Man (3:58)
7. Windmills (3:19)
8. Old Friends (3:12)
9. Prismatic Sky (3:03)