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Alessandro Bertoni - Keystone CD (album) cover


Alessandro Bertoni

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars Alessandro Bertoni is a young and talented keyboard player known for his participation in Aphelion who released the album Franticode few years back, well recived both by critics and aswell fans,the music from Franticode is the type of jazz fusion metal very well performed and quite intresting. This year 2013 he released his first album under his name , the album is named Keystone and is a killer one in jazz fuion with prog metal elements. His prestation on Keystone is excellent, the passages are very elegant, no unecessary noodling here just to show of, every piece is well constructed and delivers the very best of the genre. Also an impressive line up here, with the best of the genre like Brett Garsed on guitar, Fierbracci on bass and the omni present top notch drumer Virgil Donati, their prestation here is awesome. Now the music as I said is elegant , with nice flowing keybords, the drums and bass are busy even in the mellower parts are some very intriguing parts and the guitar as many expected brilliant. Every piece is good with a plus on opening Megas Alexandros Pt. 1: The Great Portrait, Pacifica Rampage or the beautiful ending track magnolia sunrise. All in all this is more then a decent debute, Alessandro bertoni really knew to come with a valueble album in jazz fuion world and because of that from me easy 4 stars. Fans of Planet X, Aphelion, ckeck this album, worth it for sure. Nice art work aswell.

Report this review (#1069629)
Posted Friday, November 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
4 stars This is the debut solo album by keyboard player Alessandro, who previously was with Aphelion, and for this he has been joined by guitarist Brett Garsed, Ric Fierabracci on bass and Virgil Donati on drums. The album was produced by Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater), who also gave Alessandro access to his own keyboards at Beachwood Manor Studios. The result of this is an incredibly warm fusion album that brings together four wonderful musicians, mixing jazz with progressive rock and the odd hint of metal in a manner that is seamless throughout. One of the things I really enjoyed about this is each player is a master of their craft, but they all allow the others to take centre stage when the time is right and no one person hogs the limelight. Indeed, Alessandro lets the others take so much credit that it seems much more like a band than a solo project. The way that he interacts with Brett on "Megas Alexandros pt. 3 - To the Ends of the Earth" is an example of how to use Hammond chords sparingly but to incredible effect. Ric employs fretless bass, which allows him not only to slide and play additional effects but provides an incredible warm glow to the whole album, while Virgil of course has nothing to prove. He has been at the top of his game for years and although he is content to provide some basic backing for much of the time, he also knows when to provide additional fills and power to give the music that little bit more emphasis.

Alessandro wanted to have the songwriting in the centre first and foremost, so that listeners would concentrate on that instead of the virtuosity of those involved. While of course one can never move away from the fact that these are all masters, the result is an album that is incredibly enjoyable, and much more than just a contest in "look how clever I am". Derek's production should also get a special mention as he has allowed the guys to breathe, move and meld, yet kept everything clearly separate while also bringing it all together in harmony. This is wonderful stuff.

Report this review (#1077931)
Posted Saturday, November 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Lovers of heavy yet melodic fusion will enjoy what Alessandro Bertoni has to offer with his debut album `Keystone'. A talented keyboard player, originally from prog-metal band Aphelion, the Italian artist has been able to realise his dream with the assistance of former Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian (acting as producer here), a man that Alessandro considers his prime influence as well as something of a mentor. It means that, with the help of some oustanding supporting musicians to flesh out the music with a full band lineup, `Keystone' is a punchy, heavy-grooving instrumental work that perfectly balances musical variety and energy while never forgetting to still be a collection of good tunes. Despite letting his other musicans have plenty of moments to shine, Bertoni dazzles with his army of synths - heavy Hammond being his preferred weapon of choice - and his playing is infused with all the expected Italian sophistication and professionalism.

There is no doubt Sherinian's presence initially looms large here. Anyone who heard his great solo album `Oceania' from back in 2011 may find that, although `Keystone' is certainly more solo heavy and technical than that one, it definitely serves as a starting point for this disc. As much as I don't mind them, I'm fairly indifferent to Dream Theater, so I don't have the intense dislike towards Derek's keyboard contributions on their `Falling Into Infinity' and `Once In A LIVEtime' albums that many fans do. I actually think Dream Theater fans themselves could probably enjoy this album as well, although it never goes all out with the extreme technical overkill in the way that band does, and certainly not to the levels of the Liquid Tension Experiment. I actually think a lot of this album is similar to the instrumental passages of the modern incarnation of Spock's Beard, especially with the combination of red-hot Hammond organ and hard-rock riffs.

`The Great Portrait', the first section of the three part, almost 14 min suite `Megas Alexandros' that opens the disc is both bombastic and restrained, full of pursuing chugging rock riffs, whooshing synth solos and puttering fretless bass soloing. Despite an unravelling and rapid-fire 70's fusion electric guitar run in the middle, part 2's `City of Gordium' moves in a more suspensful and mysterious direction, lots of shimmering electric piano and the most gentle of Mellotron washes. Part 3's `To The Ends of the Earth' is full of bluesy electric guitar soloing and a busy hurricane of drum fury all delivered with a triumphant driving momentum. This showpiece of the album is beautifully executed overall, with perfectly timed solo runs from all of the players, almost like a heavier version of U.K in some sections.

The album then hits a run of three tracks where Alessandro takes more of a back seat and lets his trio of support musicians take the spotlight in individual pieces. Brett Garsed demonstrates great range with the guitar driven `Pacifica Rampage', all chiming guitars and wailing yet emotional solos, while Bertoni just delicately coats the background with pleasing wisps of the most placid of synths. Virgil Donati's frantic showcase `Terium Non Datur' is loaded with complex and quick- change drum variations throughout over crunchy slabs of Hammond organ and distorted electronics. I love how thick Ric Fierabracci's bass playing is constantly throughout the whole disc, but it especially stands out with his slippery thick soloing during `Galactic Hero'. This slithering, darkly funky track almost takes on a Magma/Zeuhl-like creepiness, Ric's fretless bass snaking and weaving it's way through robotic and sci-fi sounds.

`The Keystone Age' dials up the bombastic and histrionic drama to almost Emerson, Lake and Palmer-esque levels, with loud symphonic synths and menacing, brooding piano tension. It's the most challenging of the pieces, aiming for a more deranged and reckless sound. Then after all that bluster and noise, `Magnolia Sunrise' closes the album in a haunting, eerie manner. Plenty of tip- toeing piano tension, crystaline synths and softly stalking upfront jazzy bass, it sounds more low- key and subtle than the rest of the disc, and it's quite rare to end the album in such a reflective and sedate manner. For the next album, more pieces like this please, Mr Bertoni!

Housed in a lovely painted cover by Nello Dell'Omo that would look amazing on vinyl, lovers of heavy instrumental rock will greatly enjoy this debut album. Admittedly several of the pieces sound fairly similar, but there's not a disappointing track here, and the 41 minute running time means it doesn't outstay it's welcome. There's definitely been more complex and involved instrumental albums this year, but this makes for a great solid listen, and I think it would even be a superb place to start for someone wanting an easy introduction to the fusion genre.

`Keystone' gets things off to a fine start for Alessandro Bertoni, and he and his musical associates here should be very proud of what they have achieved. I'm sure even more challenging and intricate works await in the future from this artist!

Four stars.

Report this review (#1104763)
Posted Wednesday, January 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Italian keyboardist Alessandro BERTONI is most likely an unknown entity for most, although those with good memories and extensive, deep knowledge may recall that he used to be a member of the Italian band Aphelion. These days Bertoni is based in the US, and just to maintain a true international approach by luck or design he signed to the fledgling German label Generation Prog Records in 2013 for the release of his first solo album "Keystone".

As far as debut albums go, Alessandro Bertoni delivers a high-quality one. The material is somewhat predictable admittedly: instrumental progressive rock with metal tendencies and plenty of soloing, and while the jazz-tinged details do expand the palette a bit, this isn't an album that ventures forth into any new territories as such. The compositions are well made and excellently performed however, and Sherinian delivers as expected in the production department too. A good album then, and one that those who have a taste for intense instrumental progressive rock should lend an ear too, especially if they also have a taste for artists that incorporate jazz into such landscapes.

Report this review (#1135311)
Posted Saturday, February 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
3 stars Sweeping keys, vibrant guitars, pulsing bass, and wonderful drums all form the foundation of this musical journey that is "Keystone". Alessandro Bertoni is a young and talented musician with a bright future and so much to offer. "Keystone" is his debut album, and it is fully instrumental.

"Sweeping" keys doesn't quite cover the myriad of styles shown on this album. Atmospheric, spacey, searing, grand, and beautiful; Alessandro performs admirably and with plenty of skill and an ear for richness. His guitarist Brett and his bassist Ric are fine musicians, too. The solos are amazing, and Ric especially seems to drive the music with a subtle little crunch that is so satisfying. Drummer Virgil has plenty of awesome beats to offer, but, like the rest of the band, usually sits back to let Alessandro do his thing.

The album starts off with a three-part epic called "Megas Alexandros" that is engaging and varied in tone. This is a really strong introduction, and feels just right from the very beginning. The rest of the album is lush and rich and well-played, and everything feels so perfect and possibly even robotic.

However, that's just my issue with this album. Especially with an instrumental album, the band needs to make sure that the tracks are distinguishable from one another. I feel that "Keystone" falls into this trap, as the tracks are all very similar and have the similar structure of the musicians simply taking turns to impress us. After the three track opener, it just feels like you've heard all the tricks in the band's bag. In the end, the album fails in this way, even with all the amazing elements, as I feel it lacks direction.

"Keystone" is certainly a great debut for Bertoni. It's thrilling at points, has great production, masterful musicianship, and even some inspiration. Yet, after an excellent opener, it loses creativity and I lost interest. I want to hear more from Alessandro Bertoni, and I expect he will come back with guns blazing.

Report this review (#1168256)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars MAMMA MIA!What album we have here from a very impressive and spectacular keyboard player called ALESSANDRO BERTONI!Definitelly,a major musical surprise,something that blew me away!It's great prog jazz rock fusion instrumental album made by high caliber musicians,sort of all star line up,that proves-once again,if necessary-thet fusion music still has many beautiful years ahead!In fact,this is an album of such high quality that it's almost impossible to pretend much!.My only minor complaint is about the timing of the album-36 minutes-so not even 40 minutes playing time for a long play album!That's quite few...but,regarding the huge quality of the music on this album,we have the feling it's a longer album loaded with magical moments of pure wizardry!The production is phenomenal too,absolutelly stunning and each instrument sound colossal!A mention ,a positive mention for the outrageous bass sound of Ric Fierabracci-absolutelly fabulous!This album is in fact an Aussie combination with an Italian boss,which managed to produce a fantastic album of the highest quality possible!Donati on drums is unbelieveble-as usual-his drumming work is out of this planet and with the great maestro on guitar-Mr Brett Garsed himself-we are spoiled with a fantastic line up of tremendeous musicians,which is impossible to go wrong!!!! !The keyboard sound is sensational-sometimes,the whole musical ensemble sounds like PLANET X-that's undoubtedly a compliment in my humble opinion!!!So,an ear candy even for the most pretentious prog fusion fan,one of the best instrumental albums I've heared in years!By the way,the art cover is superbe too,wonderful!4.5 stars for a marvelous album indeed!
Report this review (#1386596)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | Review Permalink

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