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Published: 2006/08/19
by Dan Alford

Alter Ego: The Slip

Quick Picks:
1) Burning Spear, 9/2/01- In Wyoming of all places
2) Ratdog Revue, 9/2/95- Kinda rowdy early show with Vince
3) Phish, 8/17/96- Day 2 of Clifford Ball. 96 grows on me.
4) PLQ, 9/00- Q rehearsals with early Midnite Train jams
5) WSP, 5/24/92- Just classic.

Marc Friedman, Andrew Barr and Marco Benevento, Tazza Caffe, Providence, RI 8/11/05

This trio is probably the least appreciated side project on the club scene. Andrew Barr’s locked on break-beat drumming and Marc Friedman’s lithe, sinuous lead-style bass riffs are the core of The Slip’s wild improv and slick indie rock songs. Pair ’em with Marco Benevento’s sometimes lyrical, often twisted organ work and you have a seriously potent trance groove concoction. Marco is a long time Slip collaborator and can often be found milling about in the crowd at Slip gigs. More than that, however, there is something in his approach and stylings that is akin to Brad Barr’s work on the guitar, and that lends an extra naturalness to this project, an added organic.

This particular show is a prime outing, a vetting of the distillation of the best of the two source bands. The first set is a long, moody improv. A great, dramatic welling of clean sounds punctuates the thick music, bright peaks with Marc on guitar at times and prayer wheel slide bass at others. Early on there is an almost GRaB feel wrapped around a “Beltless” style jam, and of course as much as the trio is an improv unit, they do jam on Slip, Duo and songs from other bands.

Case in point: the languorous, down tempo “Play Pause Stop” that opens the second set. It’s thick and heavy, and the open interpretation speaks to the strength of the Duo’s songwriting skills. The song drifts into a long dub jam, growing frantic at Marco’s hands and cooling at Andrew’s, with some classic rock teases dropped in from Marc. A long boogie woogie passage with Marco at his best precedes a schizophrenic series of jamlets, heavy metal to lullaby to buzzy, Duo style ambience. The show rises to a grand climax when Brad Barr joins for a decidedly Slipish jam into “Immigrant Song.” This is a show of fat grooves and many flavors; definitely worth hunting out.

Brad Barr, Andrew Barr, Marco Benevento and Rich Stein, The Loft, NYC 1/22/05

An odder line up of Brad, Andrew and Marco with percussionist Rich Stein, this mid winter gig at a benefit party in a Union Square loft is a good example of what many short lived and one off side projects offer: a few moments of brilliance, loose takes on familiar material, and a loose, jam feel, in that classic sense of just getting together to play. Early on there are some boogie woogie grooves, Marco’s modus operandi when guesting, but the second jam is a beautiful, jazzy meditation with Brad guiding Marco through open glades, then switching roles with the keyboardist. Andrew and Rich back the whole enterprise with a loose shimmy. This is something that will really appeal to fans of pre-indie Slip. The music grows tweaky at times, more ambient at others, another nice blend of Slip and Duo. The improv is balanced with a series of short takes on familiar material rounding out the show, including “Ho Down”, “Paranoid Android” and “What a Wonderful World”, among others. It doesn’t measure up to the earlier section, but is fun anyway.

You, Me and Jim, The Roxy, Boston, MA 4/26/06

This is a one of a kind show, as far as I know, with Andrew and Marc not backing so much as fully engaging with avant garde saxophonist Jim Hobbs. It’s a real musical conversation of equals, as evidenced by the billing: “You, Me and Jim”; and it produces amazingly heady jazz of the highest caliber. The music is dense and thrilling, loaded with bleats and screams and golden alto soaring over a barrage of fuzz bass, thick strumming, loping, angular bass runs, and rolling, tapping, crashing drums. The recording is stunning as well, so crisp and clean that every little nuance just screams out. This is an amazing performance (it was an opening set for STS9), especially for the jazzbos, about which the less said the better- let the music speak for itself. Required listening

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