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The Benedetto Players & The Guild Jazzmasters: In Concert

Jim Santella By

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The Benedetto Players & The Guild Jazzmasters
In Concert
Mel Bay Records

With this May 4, 2002 concert at the Long Island Classic American Guitar Show, we have an opportunity to meet several great jazz guitarists who've helped forge the direction that modern jazz continues to take.

Jack Wilkins and Jimmy Bruno represent the Benedetto family of guitars, performing standards that we all know by heart and delivering them with compassion. They share a love for the instrument's wide range of textures, as they both follow dynamic ranges to their utmost. Together, they swing on "Love for Sale with genuine passion. You can see it in their faces and hear it in their interpretation. With Wilkins on the left audio channel and Bruno on the right, the program comes alive. On stage, you see them in the same left- right order, and close-ups of those delicate fingerings help us understand how they do it. With the camera angle from the left, the close-ups and panning appear seamless. Each plays two solo selections, and they perform two other songs together. Bruno's Bach- inspired interpretation of "All the Things You Are goes a long way in demonstrating the capabilities of a guitarist who knows how to manipulate the strings quickly, clearly, and with determination.

John Pisano and Randy Johnston represent the Guild family of guitars. They share an appreciation for the rhythmic pulse that can be drawn out of the instrument, which they both demonstrate on "We, an up-tempo bop piece by Denzil Best which they perform with acoustic bass and drums.

Jeanne Pisano joins her husband first, for a lovely interpretation of "More Than You Know, which features her expressive way with a song along with a smooth and romantic guitar interlude. She fills the auditorium with a heartfelt ballad rendering that everyone knows they can take home with them deep inside. John follows with another ballad rendering, his composition "Amanhecer, which contains both a slow section and an up- tempo samba section. Throughout, Pisano can be seen on stage through close-ups and farther off, gently squeezing the music out of his guitar.

Johnston follows with a solo interpretation of "These Foolish Things, which he presents slowly and smoothly. His strings come alive with the emotion tied to his performance, but the sound becomes muddy from its overlapping harmonic tones. Johnston attempts to put too much into each bar of music, crowding the territory with overlaid ideas.

Charles Chapman joins the four guitarists on stage for the final number, which drives steadily with the rhythmic foundation provided by bass and drums. The guitarists each take their turns in the spotlight from right to left. Summing up the evening's affair with a bass solo and fours around the room, "Walk, Don't Run lets them each show their audience what a pleasure it is to "let yourself go" through jazz guitar.

Tracks: Autumn in New York; Emily; Love for Sale; For Baden; Satin Doll; All the Things You Are; More Than You Know; Amanhecer; We; These Foolish Things; Walk, Don't Run (70:35).

Personnel: Jimmy Bruno, Randy Johnston, John Pisano, Jack Wilkins, Charles H. Chapman: guitar; Seth Fahey: bass; David Picton: drums; Jeanne Pisano: vocals.


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