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Gene Bertoncini

One of the most tasteful guitarists around, Gene Bertoncini has a warm sound, plays at a low volume, and consistently comes up with melodic and exquisite improvisations. Born in New York in 1937, he started on the guitar when he was 9. By 1953, when he was 16, he was a professional, playing on a children’s television show. Bertoncini made a departure away from music, studying architecture at Notre Dame, for which he earned a degree, but soon returned to music, playing with Carmen McRae. In the late 1950s he was part of a Buddy Rich small group that also included Sam Most and Mike Mainieri. Working constantly in the studios and in television orchestras (including those of The Merv Griffin Show and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show), Bertoncini played with Clark Terry, Nancy Wilson, Paul Winter, Tony Bennett, the Benny Goodman Sextet, Lena Horne, Paul Desmond and even the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra.

In the 1970s, the versatile Bertoncini was on recording projects with Wayne Shorter and Charles McPherson. He formed a duo with bassist Michael Moore that lasted on and off for two decades. He has taught at the Eastman School, the New England Conservatory, the Banff School Of Fine Arts and other colleges. The guitarist has led CDs for Stash, Chiaroscuro and Omnisound, Ambient, Azica, Sons of Sound and Noteworthy. Gene Bertoncini is particularly expert at playing bossa-novas or light classical melodies, always infusing the music with subtle jazz improvising.