The Benedetto Players
Featuring: Howard Alden, Gerry Beaudoin, Jimmy Bruno, Adrian Ingram, Andy MacKenzie, Andy Summers, Frank Vignola and Jack Wilkins May 17, 1997 Huntington Hilton-Melville, NY
After twenty five years in the business, very rarely do I experience a concert
that surprises or excites me. On May 17 the Benedetto Players did both. The
eight guitarists displayed a depth of feeling and virtuosity that is second to
none in any genre of music. Working without bass or drums guitar duos and
trios evoked a comfortable groove that made you feel the music was being
performed just for you. The Benedetto players had an obvious respect for each
others ability and genuinely seemed to enjoy each others company as well.
Jimmy Bruno, Howard Alden and Frank Vignola
Howard Alden and Frank Vignola did a stellar job opening the show with tunes
"Monks' Dream, Tears and Fasinating Rhythm". Jimmy Bruno, Howard Alden and
Frank Vignola burned through a few tunes from their "Concord Jazz Guitar
Adrian Ingram and Andy MacKenzie
Adrian Ingram and Andy MacKenzie performed two extremely
tight well arranged tunes from their release "Duets". Jimmy Bruno and Jack
Wilkins brought the house down and the first standing ovation of the evening
with their exuberant renditions of "Grooveyard, Emily and You Stepped Out of a
Gerry Beaudoin and Jack Wilkins
Gerry Beaudoin did a solo medley of "Georgia On My Mind" and "My
Romance". He then performed an original blues," Blue Benedetto", dedicated to
Bob and Cindy with Jack Wilkins expertly accompaning him.
The surprise of the evening was Andy Summers. I have followed Andy for many
years and have always enjoyed his music, but personally could not see him
playing a Benedetto guitar or performing with the style of players assembled
for this concert. I was proven wrong on both counts (not an unusual occurrence
as of late). You could hear a pin drop as he performed a beautiful solo
rendition of "Nuages" and Jack Wilkins joined him for duo arrangments of "Black Orpheus" and Chick Corea's "Spain".
Andy used no effects or sound processing and sounded great. He looked
comfortable playing the Benedetto archtop and played with the finesse and
groove that I personally had not experienced before in him. After his set was
finished he dashed off to perform with his Trio at the Saturday Night Guitar
The finale and piece de resistance was an impromptu version of "Just Friends"
with all seven guitarists on stage followed by an encore of "Honeysuckle
Rose". This is one concert that is a "must see" or should I say "must hear" for
any true aficionado of great guitars and great guitar players.
I must mention that the show was of the highest professional level on many
other counts besides the music. It started on time, minimal disruptions during
group changes and the balance and blend was very good throughout the room. Randall Kremer, from the Smithsonian Institution, did a great job of hosting
and keeping the audience's interest. Rich Raezer, and Alessandro Amplifiers
(formerly Hound Dog) also did an amazing job suppling and setting up equipment
that would satisfy the very discernable tastes of the performers assembled
for this concert. Last but not least to Bob and Cindy Benedetto for making
this very special evening possible.
Buscarino Guitars Presents A Special Jazz Concert
Featuring: Paul Bollenback, Ron Affif and Ken Hatfield.
May 16, 1997 at the Huntington Hilton Hotel-Melville, NY
John Buscarino amassed an array of young lions who flexed their creative and
technical prowess throughout the evening. From Ken Hatfield with his nylon
string Cabaret model to Paul Bollenback with his MIDI-induced Monarch. These
fine guitarists demonstrated exactly how versatile a Buscarino creation can
The evening started with an instrumental combination that has always been one of my favorites-the guitar/acoustic bass duo. Ken Hatfield with Hans
Glawishnig on bass played a set reminiscent of the Gene Bertoncini/Michael
Moore genre that evoked a sensitivity aligned with both technical and creative
expertise rare in many guitarists today. Ken performed a number of orginal
tunes dedicating one to Astor Piazzola and another titled "Marios Garage" to
Brazilian music and musicians. He concluded his set with a medley of a
classical etude by Alvarez merging flawlessly into a Chick Corea composition.
The audience gave Ken a strong round of appreciation that initiated an encore
of an excellent rendition of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams".
Part two of the evening featured a fiery set of Ron Affif and Paul Bollenback
accompanied by bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. Ron and
Paul put their own signature on standards like "Body & Soul" and "Alone
Together". My personal favorite was the duo section of "If I Should Care". In
that section Ron and Paul interacted in a manner that was sheer artistry. It
was an energy charged set often reminding me of two fire-breathing dragons
challenging each others' technical limits and endurance.
All in all it was an excellent concert which I'm sure will set the tone for
many more to come. Congratulations John for great guitars, great endorsers and
a great concert.
Charles H. Chapman is an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music, a music journalist and frequent contributor to Guitar Player, Guitar Shop, Acoustic Guitar and Just Jazz Guitar magazines.