Marco Benevento, The Triple Door, Seattle, WA 08/07
First, I arrived at the Triple Door 45 minutes late. Car trouble. Second, the Triple Door runs a tight ship so while 45 minutes at many venues would mean you’re arriving at the end of the opener, maybe the end of sound check, it meant halfway through this particular show. Sure, some would consider me unqualified to comment on the gig and perhaps I would have scratched the review under certain circumstances. But in the short time I was there I heard everything I needed to hear in order to tell you this:
GO SEE MARCO BENEVENTO SOLO.
Yes, what he does with Joe Russo is amazing. And when The Duo comes to Seattle in November I’ll be there. But the sounds Benevento’s throwing down right now behind a grand piano are more than worthy. In fact, they’re exceptional.
Touring behind his recent release, Live at Tonic, Benevento is giving those who don’t live in New York the opportunity to see what he likes to do in his spare time or rather what he does when he’s given a piano and any number of musicians who are ready to jam. For his West Coast tour, Benevento enlisted the help of Reed Mathis (JFJO) and Matt Chamberlain (Critters Buggin and studio drummer for just about everyone out there), a marriage as smooth and natural as, say, coffee and cigarettes.
With his back to the audience, Benevento sat on his bench bathed in a sea of pink, the lighting setup at the Triple Door immediately creating a classy jazz feel while a painter stood at an easel behind the trio, his brushstrokes matching the music. Benevento’s interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” included what sounded like someone either gargling or on helium before Mathis and Chamberlain kicked it up a notch with large drum n bass, Benevento matching their pace by gracefully attacking his black and white canvas.
The trio easily nailed melodic and thoughtful, Benevento’s playing dramatic and gentle, sometimes accentuated by the raucousness of his circuit toys while Mathis and Chamberlain kept it steady and organic. Then in the blink of an eye the drumbeat repeatedly propelled their composition forward, building a groove into a powerful frenzy before eventually exploding, the bass and circuitry turning the quiet jazz into full-on rock band.
One thing you have to love about Benevento is just how down to earth he is. In between songs he’d chat back and forth with the audience, the acoustics in the venue so solid it was easy to hear what he was saying sans mic even from the back of the room (the acoustics were perfect for the trio’s effects too). He would sometimes stand up to walk around the stage, his shaggy hair carelessly flopping about, and after the show he retreated to the bar to share drinks with whoever was interested.
In the end my only complaint? Too short. Damn that flat tire.