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Film Review

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 down to develop the technique for this instrument while also allowing him sufficient time to explain how he started playing scales on the nylon string— not across the neck but up and down each string. Moreover, he analyzes each note in relationship to its complementary chord.

Besides a master's knowledge and insight, Bertoncini demonstrates his consummate mastery of the instrument itself, applying the aforementioned concepts to several jazz standards, including frequently-played albeit challenging tunes like "All the Things You Are," "Lush Life," and "It Had to Be You."

The guitarist also stresses the importance of melody, reminding the assembled students that jazz guitar is not about "playing hot licks." Rather, the role of the musician, he emphasizes, is to communicate and tell a story.

The DVD closes with Bertoncini offering up some practical exercises for students to work on, such as keeping the top note the same throughout a tune, demonstrating the application of the technique to various chord tones and their extensions. Finally, he encourages students to expand their ears, advice that might be well heeded by all musicians, regardless of instrument.

For the student guitarist who is a beginner to intermediate, the material covered here would be over their head. For the advanced guitarist, there is a treasure trove of ideas in this DVD, a sufficient number, in fact, to lead the extra-motivated student to virtually total knowledge and freedom on the fretboard.


Tracks: Introduction: Half Diminished Scale and Applications; All the Things You Are (Improv); Invitation; Girl Talk; Alone Together; Medley: Sophisticated Lady/ Mood Indigo; Lush Life; Round Midnight; Creating a Melody; The Shadow of Your Smile; Exercises; Medley of Tunes; Here's a Rainy Day.

Personnel: Gene Bertoncini: guitar.

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