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Playing solo jazz requires skill and dexteritynot 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 extend cogent expression.
Of the four medleys, his pairing of "Giant Steps" and "On a Misty Night may seem unusual until Bertoncini gets right to the gist. He slows down the pulse of the first and then invigorates the second with a bright harmonic touch, the contrast working well enough. Over on the classical side, he lets the melody of Schumann's "Traumerei fall softly, adding texture and harmonic depth through the use of the bass strings. He brings about the innate sentimentality of "My One and Only Love in slow exposition, never missing out on the underlying vibrancy, a quality that rises from the chunky chords he intersperses into the melody.
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.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.