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Gene Bertoncini/Mike Mainieri/ Michael Moore/Joe Corsello: Reunion

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Palpable feelings of warmth and intimacy ooze through the sonic pores of Reunion, a relaxed gathering of longtime musical associates led by journeyman guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Those sensations come partly by default, thanks to the acoustic instrumental textures, a gorgeous tonal match between Bertoncini’s agile nylon-string guitar playing and Mike Mainieri’s vigorous four-mallet work on vibes. The two men, who first worked

together in their early 20s, inspired by the Red Norvo/Tal Farlow Trio, are joined by double bassist Michael Moore, a Bertoncini duo partner since the early ’70s, and drummer Joe Corsello, with whom the leader toured during the same decade.

There’s a shared musical sensibility demonstrated here, too, as the four spruce up standards and pop gems and offer a pair of originals-Mainieri’s title track, a mellow, slowly shifting ballad; and Moore’s “The Lilter,” a medium-swing delight. Pretty swells, strums and runs cue opener “Besame Mucho,” an elegant version taken at a decidedly laidback tempo, while Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” benefits from an arrangement with Bertoncini taking the lead on the A section, Mainieri out front on the B section, and the two combining for some unexpected harmonies.

The quartet is also in fine form on a gently ambling reading of Horace Silver’s “Strollin’,” with Corsello’s deft, light touch featured during a trading-eights section; George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” with Moore’s arco melody; and Jimmy Knepper’s “Bertha the Dragoness,” its twisty head played over the changes of “Sweet Georgia Brown.” The disc’s noticeable warmth is abetted by a neo-retro recording approach: An analog recording-a high-fidelity analog output sent through a vintage compressor to an all-tube two-track tape machine-was the source for the digitally mixed CD master. Nice.

Originally Published