Crossing Over is the debut album from the guitar tandem of Mike Reyes and Rafael Alvarez, billed as the Two Turtles, both graduates from the San Diego State University music program. Recorded by Chris Hobson at Rarified Studio in San Diego, their ten instrumental tracks take you on an eclectic musical journey highlighted by six interpretive tracks from video game musical themes, ranging from the Mario Brothers to Star Fox, along with four tracks of jazz standards.
Both guitarists share the spotlight, adeptly trading solos on each track aided by tightly arranged melody heads. The result is an overall unique and clever musical interpretation throughout the album with Reyes and Alvarez demonstrating their improvisational command of the fretboard.
Their command of jazz standards is immediately apparent on the opening track, “Summertime,” as they flow effortlessly over the Gershwin classic against a 6/8 time triplet-laced Latin rhythm. The standards “Emily” and “Blue Daniel” fill the modern jazz bill with sophisticated solos by both over the lush quartal chord-voicing backdrop. The final cover, “La Vie en Rose,” often associated with Louis Armstrong’s dulcet trumpet tones, gets top treatment from Reyes and Alvarez via a soulful rendition of the classic ballad.
“5 p.m.” and “KK Cruisin,’” both taken from the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, are arranged neatly in a light and airy pop-flavored setting with Reyes and Alvarez hitting just the right inside notes with tasty blues and octave phrases.
Additionally, from the same video game, “Bubblegum KK” sets the stage for both guitarists rocking out over the steady Bossa Nova-flavored chord changes.
Reyes and Alvarez get funky against both chordal vamps on “Corneria” and the closing track, “Song of Storms,” firing out a bevy of eclectic modal licks from all ends of the musical spectrum. It’s an enjoyable listen from start to finish with well thought-out arrangements and flawless improvisational interplay from both guitarists. Check it out and give it a well-deserved listen.