Produced by Dale Unger. Recorded at Red Rock Studios, Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. "Cheek to Cheek" and "Don't Explain" recorded at National Film Board Studio, Montreal, Quebec

American Archtop CD
How Insensitive (Walt Bibinger - guitar)
Two Sleepy People (Chris Buzzelli - guitar)
We'll Be Together Again (Adam Rafferty, Matthew Finck - guitar)
Body & Soul (Pete Smyser - guitar)
Cheek to Cheek (Jon Gearey - guitar, Louise Thibault - vocals)
God Bless the Child (Spencer Reed - guitar)
Basta Blues (Chris Buzzelli - guitar)
Sister Sadie (Adam Rafferty, Matthew Finck - guitar)
Brazilian Stew #13 (Walt Bibinger - guitar)
Don't Explain (Louise Thibault - vocals, Jon Gearey - guitar)
Ah Moore (Howie Collins - guitar)
Bewitched (Pete Smyser - guitar)
Indian Summer (Chris Buzzelli - guitar)
Black Orpheus (Adam Rafferty - guitar)

If you're at all wondering about the latest generation of luthiers, "American Archtop Guitars" will put any doubts to rest. This CD presents the fine work of Dale Unger and the talented musicians who play his instruments. For those of you not familiar with Dale, he spent three years as an apprentice to Bob Benedetto before going out on his own. He has since established himself as one of the top luthiers whose focus is on building archtops for the player.

Dale's background in music production provided the impetus to put this collection together. What stands out the most is the beautiful tone of Dale's guitars combined with a selection of players who may not be known to many of the readers but leave you wanting more. Each cut is thoughtfully played, tastefully presented and different. You won't find anyone burning up the fingerboards here. What you will find is a selection of (mostly) standards with focus on the song and the melody.

How Insensitive opens the CD with what sounds like a duo…it's actually Walt Bibinger playing over his pre-recorded rhythm track. This Pennsylvania-area guitarist plays a beautiful rendition of this Jobim classic, opening with an intro of harmonics and moving to smooth octave work to introduce the melody that reminds me of Wes. His tasteful lines maintain a strong sense of melody and sensitivity. Beautiful.

Chris Buzzelli's solo rendition of Two Sleepy People is simply eloquent and his interpretation is pensive. Chris is an Associate Professor of Jazz and Guitar at Bowling Green State University and his playing in any setting is a joy to hear.

We'll Be Together Again brings us the duo of Adam Rafferty and Mathew Finck. Matthew opens with a great solo statement and introduces the melody as Adam joins in. These two really play off each other well and if you haven't heard Adam before, keep your eyes and ears open.

Body & Soul features the only player - Pete Smyser - who plays acoustically on this CD. Pete's takes on this standard straight on. A classic approach that is acoustically a pleasure to the ears.

Jon Gearey opens Cheek to Cheek with a wonderfully arranged seven-string fingerstyle of version of this Irving Berlin standard. His voicings provide a unique harmonic take to this classic. He's later joined by the beautiful voice of Louise Thibault, whom I've never heard before but leaves me waiting for each word. Jon's walking bass and comping provides the perfect accompaniment for this duo. Jon's playing and Louise's singing are not to be missed on his one!

God Bless the Child features Spencer Reed and an emotionally charged solo arrangement. His use of tempo in this tune helps add to the depth of his interpretation. I was not familiar with Spencer before hearing this cut, but I'll be looking to get a hand on one of his four recordings.

Basta Blues is written by Chris Buzzelli and gives us great exposure to his seven-string playing. Chris wrote this song in tribute to Joe Pass and you can definitely hear Joe's influence in this tune. He definitely swings through this one. If you've heard Chris play before, you know his talent. Sit back and enjoy.

The duo of Adam Rafferty and Matthew Finck really swing to Horace Silver's Sister Sadie. I've heard Adam on many occasions and he always puts all of himself into his music. I like Matthew's comping and his innovative lines on this tune. These two should definitely play together more.

Brazilian Stew #13 is the second Walt Bibinger "duo." This is the only Latin tune on the CD and a wonderful diversion. Walt's lines are melodic and sensitive. Nicely played.

Don't Explain brings us another cut from the wonderful duo of Louise Thibault and Jon Gearey. These two are absolutely perfectly paired. Louise has a seductive voice and a style that is original and refreshing.

Ah Moore is sole tune by Howie Collins on this CD. Nearly a 30-year veteran of the 7-string, Howie demonstrates his experience and depth with that "extra string." Howie is wonderful here. It's too bad the cut is so short.

Pete Smyser is back acoustically with Bewitched. This time he plays a beautiful fingerstyle arrangement. Obviously a versatile player, he does great justice to this classic standard.

Indian Summer is the third solo tune played by Chris Buzzelli. Chris is really an outstanding solo guitarist and plays a great 7-string arrangement of this tune. Not much more to say except enjoy!

Black Orpheus features Adam Rafferty in a solo format. A very tasteful and pensive rendition of this Louis Bonfa tune. It's easy to see why he's one of the busiest guitarists in New York. It's a treat every time I hear him play.

My experience with CDs that feature many guitarists is that they are usually pulled together from past works and never seem to have a central theme or tie. This is clearly NOT one of those CDs. Every tune works here and the central theme here is the relationship between the archtop and the artist. Truly a great collection that I highly recommend. Nice work Dale!

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