Recorded live at the Studio Cafe in Newport Beach, California, this is a nice relaxing seventy-minute combo outing. It features guitar jazz in a fully mainstream setting without any pretention towards newer techniques that might include distortion, free jazz, or electronics. The addition of a piano to the usual bass and drum pairing is a good idea, providing additional support and solo voicings. Pianist Nick Peper, bassist Bart Broadnax, and drummer Raymond Genovese do a commendable job.
The performances, as well as the selections, could have been recorded any time during the past forty years. Most of the tunes, other than the standards "Dream" and "A Foggy Day," were written in the 1960s, save for Bruno's own "Cafe Blues." Bruno and company get to stretch out on two bossa nova classics, Jobim's "How Insensitive" and Bonfa's "Black Orpheus," which cover a pretty good 21 minutes. Other samba titles include Bonfa's "Gentle Rain" and Jobim's "Wave."
Away from the Brazilian influences, the group does well with Toots Thielemans' classic "Bluesette" and Mancini's "The Days of Wine and Roses." Most interesting is the closing "Blue Monk," in which both Bruno and Nick's piano stylings take on more intensity during their respective solos.
Visit Gary Bruno on the web.
Personnel: Gary Bruno: guitar; Nick Peper: piano; Bart Broadnax: bass; Raymond Genovese: drums.