Brian Hughes

Straight to You

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Contemporary jazz being the fickle world it is, even a hugely popular artist who takes a few years between releases had better re-emerge with something pretty explosive to get the ball rolling again. Canadian guitarist Brian Hughes emerges from an undeserved three-year label limbo with a fresh, exotic fire in his belly on the global village of Straight to You, which marks Higher Octave Music's first official foray into truly adventurous jazz fusion. The radio-friendly fare is there, of course, but it's the way Hughes evokes Wes Montgomery while weaving a seductive stew of Latin, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, and funky blues into both pop and jazz contexts that makes this a genre-busting classic. Wherever he's been traveling over the years with Celtic songstress Loreena McKennitt has given Hughes inspiration to splash tropical here, flamenco meets Middle Eastern there, and Brazilian just for the weekend. While both of his guitars mesmerize, it's the go-for-broke band interaction (particularly his chemistry with pianist Les Portelli) that makes this a hearty return to form.

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