Bertoncini hits the jackpot; the nylon-string guitar whiz is joined by a
string quartet for a set of music that is both challenging and exquisite to hear.
Familiar tunes like “East of the Sun” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home
To” feature fine technical elements where Bertoncini and the strings trade
off through seamless transitions as he mixes sophisticated chordal work with single-note loveliness. Most important, it swings like a mother.
One of the best tracks is a unique, quirky take on “Eleanor Rigby.” You
hear the melody, then the strings enter, and finally it turns into a wonderful jam on a minor key. The chordal work and dynamics are suitably dramatic, and before Bertoncini is done, he hits on composers as varied as Jobim and Chick Corea.
Especially impressive is how Bertoncini weaves all of this into a package
that’s not only coherent, but makes these varied songs sound like they
should be together. He also dips into his own catalog for one cut, the lovely “For Chet,” where changes mix with the perfectly placed strings on the tribute to Chet Baker.
Some might think this is some kind of experiment, but the arrangements
and Bertoncini’s mastery of his instrument make it seem more like an inspired delivery of tunes that were in need of a new way to look at them.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.