310

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

Dr. Judith Schlesinger By

Sign in to view read count
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 a conversation between two old friends (which it actually is), each of the ten tracks is soothing and full of light. It's a limited format, consists of Gene Bertoncini on acoustic and Roni Ben-Hur on electric guitar, but variations in material and arrangements keep things interesting, moreover, given their similar lyrical sensibilities, they never get in each other's way.



This program includes a fresh take on singer Roberta Flack's 70s hit, "Killing Me Softly," underscoring how pretty this song still is. A sensuous "I Concentrate on You" benefits from Bertoncini's signature re-harmonization, while the title track was such fun that one of the players expels a delighted breath at the end. Bassist Earl May was originally slated to perform on this release but died unexpectedly in January, 2008; the inclusion of Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Brown's "That's Earl, Brother" is a tribute to all the musicians' sunny personalities.



There's still more humor in Bertoncini's tweaking of Toots Thieleman's "Bluesette" dubbed "Set Blue" and the sly Dizzy quotes that Ben-Hur embeds in "Sofia's Butterfly." Together they remove years of kitsch from "Besame Mucho," restoring its original gleam. Another peak is their meditation on the beautiful Harold Arlen tune, "Out of this World."



As a psychologist, I'd be happy to prescribe Smile:Jazz Therapy Volume 1 to anyone in need of comfort and joy. Comfort and joy...hmmm...whenever you read this, Christmas is sure to be coming...



To learn more about the Jazz Foundation, see the article Beauty and the Beasts: Wendy Oxenhorn vs Homelessness, Poverty, Illness, and Despair.

Visit Gene Bertoncini and Roni Ben-Hur on the web.


Track Listing: Killing Me Softly; I Concentrate on You;Smile; That's Earl, Brother; You Are a Story; Anna's Dance; Out of This World; Besame Mucho; Sofia's Butterfly; Set Blue.

Personnel: Gene Bertoncini: acoustic guitar; Roni Ben-Hur: electric guitar.

Title: Smile: Jazz Therapy Volume 1 | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Motema Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Magnetic" CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "First Light" CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Live at PafA" CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Blues, Preludes and Feuds" CD/LP/Track Review Blues, Preludes and Feuds
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Alcanza" CD/LP/Track Review Alcanza
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 14, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.