Joel Del Rosario and Surewill are Side By Side...
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Normally this is a release that I would slice to ribbons simply as a public service. Joel Del Rosario is an incredibly nice guy and is artistically gifted as he is technically proficient. The problem with Side By Side is that it embodies everything that is utterly forgettable about the dead radio format known as smooth jazz. Joel is joined by Surewill who brings little to the table in terms of flavor and Side By Side seems to crash and burn before ever really taking off.
The tunes here are like the pretty girl you meet in the bar. Everything looks and sounds fine till last call and then reality sets in...the tunes are pretty but much like chewing gum, forgettable after only a few minutes. The production is not overly compressed and sanitized for your protection but sounds as though the record may have been done in a basement with a sound guy that received his formal training at Radio Shack. Again, I have no idea who "Surewill" is and based on the performance here, I have no desire to learn. Joel's last release Coast To Coast was an eclectic mix of offerings that showcased the versatility of what should have been one of the fastest raising guitarists in contemporary instrumental jazz today. Del Rosario can carry a release without sharing the billing. The tunes here run together with perhaps the only saving grace being that if you are looking for background music for a dinner party then this could be your answer. From the poorly shot cover art with the bad off the rack suits to riffs, hooks, and melodies that you have heard done on every Paul Brown record, nothing works. This is a watered down riff on George Benson. An artist needs to know who he is and develop his own voice accordingly, Joel is a work in progress and in desperate need of some guidance in doing so.
Bad reviews are not fun. Something seems to have changed with Joel, in a recent conversation he would end every sentence with "sir." I wonder if he would try the same sarcastic avenue with Down Beat...Sadly I don't believe Joel will ever have the opportunity. If you long for something more than poorly recorded ear candy then keep moving.