If ever there was a combination that deserved the designation of chamber jazz, it is the precious, masterful and swinging duo of guitarists Gene Bertoncini and Michael Moore, at Blues Alley last night.
Bertoncini's touch and technique on Spanish guitar are in a class with concert soloists. Moore finds his way around his guitar with an extrodinary ease so closely wed to sensibility that his skill of execution is truly handmaiden to lyricism and melodic invention rather than bravura ostentation.
The interplay of the two musicians was well displayed on a delicate medley that included Bach and Richard Rodgers. Moore's seamless arco passages floated over the intricate stitching of Bertoncini's single note picking. Gershwin's "Piano Prelude No.2," on the other hand, was essayed with swagger.
For an Ellington medley, the guitarist went electric and blew horn lines that simulated in uncanny fashion some of the components of the Duke's instrument, the orchestra. And Moore switched so deftly from millimeter-fine, upper-register bowing to deep, hollow-wood pizzicato that he was almost a duo in himself.
Eschewing all but necessary amplification, the two called attention to the natural qualities of their acoustic instruments and when Bertoncini plugged in, his impact was akin to the early practioners of electric guitar.
Bass players and guitarists--and jazz fans in general--who weren't there last night, take note. These are two of the best.