The Brew

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

The Brew

Latin Brew The sounds on Latin Brew are as clean, flowing, and downright gorgeous as anything digitally etched into recent memory. Guitarist Michael Rodriguez, the leader of this long-running Austin ensemble, is astoundingly fluid on his acoustic instrument, offering melodic lines and solos that take flight at every turn. Starting out in Brownsville, Texas, way the hell back in the mid-Seventies as an all-purpose combo that did blues, rock, and country, the Brew made their way to Austin in the Eighties and have since leaned increasingly into the arena of Latin jazz. Michael's brothers Joe and Mark take care of percussion and bass duties, respectively, and local stars Joel Guzman on keyboards and accordion, Brad Evilsizer on drums, and William Santiago on congas round out the regular lineup. Though Latin Brew focuses mainly on the light-to-smooth-jazz sound the band has tweaked to perfection, there are a few surprises on this album, like the electric turn through the Eagles' "Hotel California." Rodriguez reworks the infamously creepy melody into something almost beautiful -- almost. It's still "Hotel California," after all, and unfortunately, it sounds more like Joe Satriani has checked in than Paco de Lucía. Lovely, but not thrilling, Latin Brew makes nice music without taking many chances. (Wednesday, March 13, Empanada Parlour, midnight)

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