In November 2007, Roni Ben-Hur and his bassist Earl May approached Motema Records with a great idea: They would record a duo CD, pro bono, as a fundraiser for the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund, a trust created by Engelwood Hospital and Medical Center to fund health care for jazz musicians who can't afford it (i.e. just about every player not named Wynton Marsalis). May's sudden death the following January could have sent this worthy concept off the rails; instead, Gene Bertoncini stepped into the breach, and the results are absolutely brilliant.
Smile (dedicated to May, whose ever-present grin ...read more
This is a terrific release for several reasons. For one thing, everyone involved in the CD's creation and promotion donated their services, which funnels all proceeds directly to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey. According to Jana Herzen, president of Motema Music, Smile:Jazz Therapy Volume 1 is the first of a series that will benefit this and other Jazz Foundation of America projects. As a result, a worthy cause matches the music's high quality.
Smile can legitimately claim to justify its therapeutic subtitle: as relaxed and amiable as ...read more
Smile, the inaugural CD from Motema's Jazz Therapy series, comes from guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Roni Ben-Hur and benefits a very worthy cause. The proceeds from the album, the first recorded collaboration between the pair, go to the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund at Englewood Hospital, providing free medical care to jazz musicians in need. The music is beautiful and, dare one say, therapeutic. The guitarists work well together, with Bertoncini's lyrical nylon string work complementing Ben-Hur's more bop-oriented electric lines. Some of the standout tracks include the gently swinging Bertoncini composition You Are A ...read more
What could possibly be better than hearing guitarist extraordinaire Gene Bertoncini on Concerti? Simply, being ten feet away from the bandstand and viewing his quicksilver style of playing, astounding an appreciative audience. Bertoncini, over the course of several decades, has become an elder statesman plectrist, working in a number of settings--solo, duet, trio or larger ensembles. On Concierti , Bertoncini works with members of The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he has been a teacher for many years. With the exception of Invitation," all of the arrangements were written by Bertoncini's colleagues at ...read more
At 70, guitarist Gene Bertoncini continues to make standards and classics breathe and shimmer, inviting listeners to experience them in new ways. On Concerti, his considerable skill at navigating a nylon-stringed guitar are complemented by a group of highly capable string players and clever arrangements, all crucial to this winning endeavor. Engineer Mark Conese deserves mention for the excellent sound quality of this recording, which he co-produced. Allying with strings is more than a gimmick or a marriage of convenience; it's a wedding of varied talents that promotes long-running pleasure over repeated listening. Mark Feldman on first ...read more
Concerti is twenty-six strings vibrating: A string quartet--two violins, a viola and a cello--with a bass added on the bottom end, fronted by the nylon-string acoustic guitar of Gene Bertoncini.A top notch guitarist who has taught for forty years at the Eastman School of Music, Bertoncini enlisted some of his colleagues from the school to arrange for the string section. The results are a buoyant and sweet mix of jazz sidling up to the classical side of sound.Mark Feldman--a classically-trained violinist who has worked extensively in the jazz genre--conducts the strings, and bassist David Finck adds ...read more
Whenever people write about Gene Bertoncini's music, the same words tend to appear: elegant, graceful, versatile. Lyrical. Master. Virtuoso. Writer Gene Lees called him the Segovia of jazz," the perfect term for one who creates such poetry with the acoustic, nylon-stringed guitar. Still a busy performer, teacher, and clinician, Bertoncini has played in many styles and settings in his five-decade career, and swings in all of them. Following the 2004 release of Quiet Now (Ambient), he has become increasingly admired for the crystalline beauty of his solo work. Bertoncini is an unusually modest musician, known for his gentle nature and ...read more