October 29th, 2009
Marco Benevento , piano, Jeremy Black, drums, and Reed Mathis, bass on stage at the Triple Door as Earshot Jazz hits midpoint in its second of the three week Jazz Festival.
Thirty-one-year-old keyboardist Marco Benevento has made his name reimagining and reshaping the music of his youth. Benevento fluidly integrates the sounds he came of age with — rock, jazz, hip-hop, and music from more distant cultures — into an organic and far-reaching sort of improvisational music. As he told David Rubien of the San Francisco Chronicle, “It’s instrumental music but it has all these elements: rock, songs, jazz, free jazz. […] I feel like I’m happily in this place among other musicians I know in this thing that sounds new yet it’s totally vernacular. People understand what we’re doing.”
In addition to past projects, such as Quartet the Killer (a Neil Young tribute) and Bustle in Your Hedgerow (Led Zeppelin), this philosophy is well represented in his new album Me Not Me(recorded here at Chroma Sound in Seattle). Mixing originals with interpretations of works by such artists as My Morning Jacket, Deerhoof, Leonard Cohen, and Beck, Me Not Me presents Benevento with his trio of bassist Reed Mathis and drummers Matt Chamberlain and Andrew Barr. Valuing the strong melodies and harmonic structure of the borrowed source material, Benevento focused primarily on innovation in his arrangements and improvisations: “I got into sculpting the sound around the original piano parts by using some of my favorite keyboards and re-amping them in interesting ways.”
Combining Benevento’s characteristic whimsy, ear for melody, and sonic ingenuity with the frenetic energy of the trio produces unexpected and thrilling results. Benevento seems capable of exploring any musical ground that interests him; with results such as these, why not?
—Peter Walton in Earshot Jazz Festival program guide.
Bottom photo by Paul Joseph Brown