Joel Del Rosario & Surewill – Side By Side

Oct. 7, 2013

Two years after laying it on us with Coast to Coast, guitarist Joel Del Rosario joins forces with his good friend Surewill who delighted us with his own 2010 release called Out of the Shadows. Together, they’ve put together a project called Side By Side, Joel & Will CDa reference to their longstanding friendship, and it takes off on its own wings right from the start.

Combining the sweetness of Del Rosario’s chords and runs, the equally competent piano chops from Surewill, and great melodies, the album has no place to go but up and, no doubt,  its ascent has already started.

These two make the phrase “making great music together” as literal as can be. The time they have spent as close friends actually dates back to before their mutual respect for one another’s music, and with a strong foundation like that, this album couldn’t have come at a better time. Suave, charismatic, well-composed, arranged, and phrased, it’s the consummate demonstration of what a couple of really talented artists can do with each other’s musical ideas.  Chemistry. You can’t overstate it.

Opening with an obvious nod to the one and only late Miles Davis, the pair bring in trumpeter Sam Hankins to accentuate the cool that was and always will be Miles. From that point on, there are countless colorful tunes painting a bright collage of sound.  Count among them the smoothly jammin’ title track, the powerful mid-tempo infectious “The Walk,” the very melodic and sweetly swaying “Just Chords” highlighting the top-shelf keys skills of Surewill as well as the adept playing of Del Rosario, the slick and silky “Mon Frere,”  and every track all the way to the finger-poppin’ finale “Keep It Moving.” All of these and more only serve to clearly indicate that these guys as true professionals who not only love what they do but need what they do because the drive to express is so transparent.

For sure, this is a perfect paring. The result is a wonderful album that speaks volumes about what went into its making. Two thumbs up. – Ronald Jackson