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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini / Roni Ben-Hur: Smile: Jazz Therapy Volume 1

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini / Roni Ben-Hur: Smile: Jazz Therapy Volume 1

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini / Roni Ben-Hur: Jazz Therapy, Volume 1: Smile

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Concerti

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Concerti

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Concerti

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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 ...

INTERVIEWS

Gene Bertoncini: Architect of the Guitar

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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 ...

PODCAST

Gene Bertoncini: Acoustic Electricity

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Jason Crane interviews guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Raised in the Bronx, Bertoncini began his musical education at an early age, encouraged by his parents. He studied architecture at Notre Dame before deciding on a life of music. That decision was a smart one -- Bertoncini has since performed with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, the Benny Goodman Sextet, Tony Bennett, Buddy Rich, Wayne Shorter, Burt Bacharach, Michel LeGrand and many others. He's also on the faculty at the Tritone Jazz Camp (tritonejazz.com). All the selections in this show are taken from Bertoncini's recording Acoustic Romance (Sons of Sound, 2003), featuring drummer Akira ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Gene Bertoncini: Art of Solo Jazz Guitar

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Gene Bertoncini Art of Solo Jazz Guitar Melbay 2006

The DVD Gene Bertoncini: The Art of Solo Jazz Guitar documents a Master Class with guitarist Bertoncini. A nylon-string guitarist who has worked with the likes of Buddy Rich and Wayne Shorter, Bertoncini answers questions from a small group of off-screen students, while explaining the concepts behind his graceful technique.

Bertoncini discusses how many guitarists tend to memorize chord fingerings without really being aware of what's inside these chords. Switching from electric guitar to the nylon string forces him to slow ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Quiet Now

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Quiet Now

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Playing solo jazz requires skill and dexterity--not just as a player, but also in selecting the tunes and keeping the listener's attention locked in. Gene Bertoncini balances his program on Quiet Now with standards, classical tunes, and a Brazilian piece. He keeps the going tight; the CD clocks in under 42 minutes, time enough to make a statement and leave behind a sense of fulfillment. This stems not only from the selections, which suit his gentle, laid back approach and his crisp, translucent playing, but also the way he lets melody sweep across in warm tonal colours and lets harmony ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Quiet Now

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Precious few guitarists In the history of recorded jazz have concentrated exclusively on the nylon-string acoustic guitar. Players like Ralph Towner and Lenny Breau--two more disparate artists one would be hard-pressed to find--have certainly made the instrument one of their primary focuses, but they've also used others to broaden their sonic palette. Still, there are precedents, most notably the late Charlie Byrd and relative newcomer Ken Hatfield, who have devoted themselves solely to the rich potential of the classical guitar.

In a career spanning forty years and a large discography that includes stints with Wayne Shorter, Paul Desmond, Hubert Laws, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Quiet Now

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If I had to pick one word to describe Gene Bertoncini's luminous guitar playing, it would be “exquisite --especially since my local dictionary offers five meanings of that word, all of which apply to Bertoncini's music: 1) marked by intricate and beautiful design or execution; 2) of such beauty or delicacy as to arouse delight; 3) excellent, flawless; 4) acutely perceptive or discriminating; and 5) intense, keen.

But there's more to say. (Isn't there always?) It's important to note that Quiet Now has exceptional clarity as well as warmth; apparently the newest technology (DSD, SACD) has resurrected the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gene Bertoncini: Acoustic Romance

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Guitarist extraordinare Gene Bertoncini wows, soothes and swings his way through eleven gorgeous jazz classics on Acoustic Romance, strumming, picking, running up and down the neck of his nylon-string acoustic guitar with the intricate multi-layered stylings true to his architectural training. While it can be said that the world doesn’t need another guitar trio record, this one is an exception for many reasons: from the elaborate reharmonizing of “Edelweiss" to the snappy “Invitation," Bertoncini, along with the masterful bassist Rufus Reid and the equally inventive drummer Akira Tana, succeeds in making all of these standards sound like ...



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