Friday, March 8, 2013

CD of the Month (New) - "Gene Bertoncini & Mike Mainieri: Reunion"

CD of the Month (New)
Gene Bertoncini, Mike Mainieri, Michael Moore & Joe Corsello: "Reunion" (Ambient)

***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced & Engineered by Mark Conese
Executive Producer: Michael Stamm
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered @ Ambient Recording Co.
Art Direction & Photography: Michael G. Stewart
Design Assistant: Christa McInturff
Liner Photos: James Burns III
Liner Notes: Gene Bertoncini

Featuring: Gene Bertoncini (acoustic nylon string and electric hollow body guitars), Mike Mainieri (vibes), Michael Moore (acoustic bass) and Joe Corsello (drums)

This sublime & sophisticated CD combines the talents of four of today’s most well respected musicians recorded with audiophile recording techniques. The tonal combination of guitar and vibes paired with acoustic bass and traditional jazz drum set makes this recording a sonic delight. “Reunion” is comprised of classic standards and original compositions. The CD title “Reunion” comes from Gene Bertoncini’s long association with Mike Mainieri, Michael Moore and Joe Corsello all of whom have played with Gene at one point or another over the past 50 years.

However, the classy program surprisingly opens with a subtle bossa reading of the famous bolero "Besame Mucho," composed in the 40s by the legendary Mexican composer Consuelo Velasquez, and later transformed in a bossa-nova by João Gilberto (one of Bertoncini's idols) on the "Amoroso" album (1977), for which Claus Ogerman created a lush orchestration that he adapted for Diana Krall's version on "The Look of Love" in 2001.

The impeccable repertoire also includes another Bertoncini favorite, Horace Silver's elegant blues "Strollin'" (Gene had previously recorded it as the song title for a duo album on Stash with Michael Moore in 1987), Mal Waldron's haunting ballad "Soul Eyes" (dedicated to John Coltrane and a song included in the first LP I ever produced, Yana Purim's self-titled debut for RCA in 1981), Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" (from "West Side Story"), Gershwin's "Embraceable You" (the best instrumental version since Roland Hanna's take for his CTI album "Gershwin Carmichael Cats"), Michael Moore's "The Lilter" and trombonist Jimmy Knepper's cult masterpiece "Bertha The Dragoness," previously covered by Bertoncini & Moore in a trio album with Roger Kellaway.

The title song “Reunion” is an original composition by Michael Mainieri. This quartet has performed to sold out crowds at The Jazz Standard in NYC and has received the highest critical acclaim. “Reunion” will let you hear some of today’s most prolific musicians recorded in an optimized studio environment, practically transporting them directly into your listening room.

Gene is simply the best "acoustic guitarist" in the world. Nobody plays jazz on acoustic guitar like him! He was Luiz Bonfa's favorite guitarist, and that's why Bonfá recorded many albums with Bertoncini as his rhythm guitarist (in such gems from the early 70s as "Sanctuary" and "The New Face of Bonfá") or special guest on CDs like "Non-Stop To Brazil" (1989, for Chesky) and "The Bonfá Magic", which I had the honor to produce back in 1991 for Caju/Milestone. The day Gene arrived to record @ Duplex Sound Studio in NY, in May 1991, was one of the most special moments in my life.

A dream come true happened there, after years of huge admiration for Bertoncini's artistry since I was a child and, when I was just 10 years old, I got copies of his albums for CTI with Hubert Laws ("Rite of Spring," "Afro-Classic," "In The Beginning"), followed by many more great projects with Lalo Schifrin ("Marquis de Sade"), Michel Legrand ("Twenty Songs of the Century," "After The Rain"), Paul Desmond ("Skylark"). Not to mention other outstanding sessions with Wayne Shorter, Ronnie Foster et al.

During my trips to NY in the 80s, I attended many of Bertoncini's fascinating duo performances with Michael Moore @ Zino, a fantastic Italian restaurant. Besides their great LPs as a duo and the outstanding "O Grande Amor" trio album with Edson Machado ("O Grande Amor," the final session by the legendary Brazilian drummer), I had became a big Moore fan through his impeccable playing and gorgeous bass sound in concerts with Bill Evans and Gerry Mulligan as well as on Art Farmer/Jim Hall's "Big Blues," a terrific piano-less CTI album that also featured... Mike Mainieri on vibes!!! And also find out that Mainieri's performance on Joe Zawinul's "Young and Fine" hit for Weather Report ("Mr. Gone"), covered by Art Farmer & Joe Henderson on their sensational (although underrated) fusion session "Yama," included one of the best solos ever performed on a vibraphone! Some years later, during my first trip to Paris, in 1989, I got all the Japanese issues available @ Fnac of such Steps (Ahead) albums as "Step By Step" and the fiery 2-CD live set "Smokin' in the Pit." I must confess I'm being introduced to Joe Corsello's talents right now, and it's being love at first sight. The art of subtlety on drums.

For this CD, a hybrid digital/analog recording technique was employed exploiting the best of the two technologies. 176.4-kHz 24-bit A/D conversion was used to make this recording. It was mixed in the digital domain with 32-bit floating point precision to a Playback Designs up-sampling D/A converter to 5.6 MegaHertz 1-bit DSD. This high fidelity analog output was processed thru an early 1970’s vintage Neve compressor to a custom all tube ½” two track analog tape machine running at 15ips. The resultant analog recording was used as the source for the CD master. The result captures all the detail of high resolution digital with the warm analog sound of transformers and vacuum tubes for an ultra-musical sonic presentation.

One of the best albums of the year. Period.

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