When one hears that Esteban Ramirez is a Mexican-American musician from El Paso, TX (just north of the United States/Mexico border), certain musical images immediately come to mind -- images of banda, mariachi, norteño/Tex-Mex, ranchero, and Tejano musicians catering to a predominantly Mexican audience. It certainly wouldn't come as a surprise if an El Paso-based musician went after the regional Mexican market; regional Mexican music is as huge in Texas as salsa and merengue are on the East Coast. But you won't find any "Rieleros del Norte" songs on Fly with Me; Ramirez is actually a piano-playing new age instrumentalist along the lines of George Winston, Suzanne Ciani, and David Lanz. Ramirez doesn't get into the spacier types of new age on this 2003 release, nor is he into the sort of world music-minded experimentation that has been adding some excitement and adventure to the new age genre in the '90s and 2000s. Rather, Ramirez' new age is basically a sweetly inoffensive style of instrumental pop; everything on Fly with Me sounds like background music from a romantic comedy. This hour-long CD doesn't offer much variety; after hearing the opener, "Promise," the listener pretty much knows what to expect for the next fifty-five minutes; the listener know that he/she can expect to hear gentle, light performances that project a certain innocence. Ramirez' 2000 release Welcome Home would probably be a better purchase -- that album unites Ramirez with Melissa "Missy" Hasin, a talented cellist who has done a variety of session work and, in 1997, recorded an excellent straight-ahead jazz album titled How My Heart Sings, for guitarist John Anello Jr.'s Cexton label. Nonetheless, Fly With Me is a pleasant, if less than challenging, disc for the El Paso-based Ramirez.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson