Widely known and admired for more than four decades as an accompanist, an ensemble player, a jazz artist, a duo collaborator and as a studio musician, on this CD "Quiet Now", we are given a chance to hear Gene do what he does best: unique solo interpretations of a wide range of songs that really mean someting to him.
As a pianist who has made something of a specialty of solo performance and recording, I am fully aware of how difficult a challenge solo jazz presents on any instrument. To approach each tune, it takes considerable thought as an arranger - to develop what harmonica great Toots Thielemans calls a "signature" approach to a song - yet to allow for the spontaneity that makes for great jazz. You must "cover" the rhythn, melody and harmony with no help from a bassist and drummer and adapt those elements to the peculiarities and strengths of your instrument. And Gene makes it all seem effortless with no wasted notes and no empty display. He also has a lifetime's knowledge of the capabilities of his instrument and truly uses the guitar both as a miniature orchestra and as a rhythm section. Bertoncini is a musician who above all cherishes the melody ans harmony of great songs. Each selection on this disc - whether a standard, a composition by one of the great jazz composers, or a piece from Brazil or the European classical tradition - possesses an indelible melody and a sophisticated harmonic language. But the beauty of these performances is that they are not only always true to the spirit of the song but that they can still all sound uniquely like Gene. No small feat indeed - in fact the "holy Grail" of solo jazz performance.
In addition, the pristine quality, transparency and depth of this recording allow you to really appreciate the subtleties of Gene's approach and his total mastery of his instrument. It is both intimate and powerful at the same time.
To have our ears bathed in the wonderful sound and musical wisdom of a great artist at the peak of his powers is indeed a special event on many levels. I hope that you can spend time in the world of "Quiet Now" and discover, upon repeated listening, all the depth and beautiful music that this project has to offer. Fred Hersch (October, 2004)