Gene Bertoncini: Quiet Now (2005)
This disc and the one that prececeded it (Body and Soul, also on Ambient) are the most stunning solo guitar records ever recorded. Not only are Bertoncini's little arrangements spare and gorgeous, the sound space that producer/engineer Mark Conese has created for his artist makes everything the guitarist plays come to you with quiet, personal clarity. Sure, you've heard most of these tunes before, but Bertoncini and his producer have managed to make each and every one of them an exquisite poem of form and content. Bertoncini has the sound and technique of the best classical guitarists, and to these sterling qualities he adds an encyclopedic knowledge of tunes and an artist's sense of how to tell a story.
For a true revelation about the creative process at work, listen to the Coltrane medley. Bertoncini has the true genius to find the simple line in "Giant Steps and have it serve as the introduction to a slightly more animated but no less expressive take on Tadd Dameron's "On A Misty Night. The two tunes together celebrate the lyrical side of Coltrane without sentiment.
Bertoncini understands melody. He offers heartbreakingly beautiful renditions, for example, of two great "tunes from the classical repertoire. Robert Schumann's "Traumerei ("Reveries ) from his massive piano work Kinderscenen (Scenes from Childhood) has been a popular melody for classical and popular soloists for many years. Bertoncini makes the piece a little guitar etude and ends by revealing his understanding and mastery of his instrument as well as the delicacy of this lovely tune. And then there's "Nessun Dorma, which operatic tenors everywhere have sung into over-familiarity. Bertoncini plays the notes and harmonically enriches them with tact and grace. And he does that with everythingfrom standards from the repertoire to film music to Brazilian music. It's all glorious.
Track Listing: Lush Life/Ifsahan; My One and Only Love; Giant Steps/On a Misty Night; Traumerei; So in Love/The More I See You; Olha Maria; Quiet Now; Nessun Dorma; Waltz for Debbie/Very Early; Theme From Bang the Drum Slowly.
Personnel: Gene Bertoncini: guitar.