There are only a handful of legendary Jazz Guitarists today that can demand the respect and admiration due them after a life time of majestic devotion to the art of Jazz Guitar. Gene Bertoncini is just such an artist and like Segovia, his name should be synonymous with all that is virtuous in the world of Jazz. Happily, unlike Segovia, Gene Bertoncini is still very much with us and can still deliver an astounding performance of solo Jazz Guitar, which thankfully he does on his latest release Quiet Now.
From the opening notes of “Lush Life”, Gene Bertoncini treats the listener to forty-one minutes of classic and popular Jazz tunes that have been arranged beautifully for solo guitar by Gene himself. His technique as you might imagine is flawless, his time is to die for, and his intimate knowledge of these tunes is beyond reproach as he brings the melodies and harmonies of each song to life as only he can. Listen to his affectionate reading and sly reharmonization of “My one and Only Love”, the title track “Quiet Now” or Jobim’s “Olha Maria” to hear a master musician at work.
Like any true artisan there are a few surprises along the way. For example, his addition of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” or Schumann’s “Traumerei” both played with a skill that would unnerve the staunchest “legitimate music” critic. Or the pairings of “Lush Life” with “Isfahan”, “Giant Steps” with “On A Misty Night”, “So In Love” with “The More I See You”, or “Waltz For Debbie” with “Very Early”. Just wonderful! And his rhythmic fervor and subtle “bluesy-ness” on the “Theme From ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’” is a show stopper. And if you’re wondering how he plays “Giant Steps” then you definitely have to get the CD to hear how he develops the theme his way, keeping with the continuity and flow of the album.
If you are already a fan of Gene Bertoncini then you know what to expect, but if you are unfamiliar with his work maybe a quote from gifted Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch will help provide some insight: “Guitarist Gene Bertoncini is a consummate virtuoso instrumentalist and a musician who possesses an extraordinary ability to emotionally connect to every composition he performs.” ‘Nuff said. Enjoy!