Gene Bertoncini

Body and Soul

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There aren't a great many exponents of nylon-string acoustic jazz guitar, but Gene Bertoncini, one of the true masters, belongs near the top of the list. On this exquisite solo album, the veteran guitarist is recorded via a technology called Direct Stream Digital. Without going into cumbersome details, what this means is unparalleled sound quality, giving a glass-like sheen to Bertoncini's musical thoughts. It must be said, however, that Bertoncini would sound great recorded in far less ideal circumstances. His arrangements combine the unlimited possibilities of jazz reharmonization with the rigors of legit classical guitar technique, resulting in highly individual reworkings of great standards. The title track becomes a landscape of dark clusters and dissonance, while in parts of "My Funny Valentine" and "Greensleeves," the melody occurs in the low register, framed by high-register chords and patterns -- not something you're likely to hear from even the best electric jazz guitarist. Bertoncini even makes lesser showtunes like "Edelweiss" and "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" sound like mini-symphonies.

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