A month ago, keyboardist Marco Benevento began his tour in support of his new album, TigerFace, at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads. Last night, starting in Cambridge, Mass. at T.T. the Bear’s, Benevento and his band (Dave Dreiwitz, best known as the bassist for Ween and drummer Andy Borger, who has played with Tom Waits among others) kicked off the second leg of the TigerFace Tour. From the first notes, it was clear that the band was already in their comfort zone and at times seemingly ecstatic to be ripping through tracks from TigerFace. Effortless communication led to deep grooves, audacious jams and stunning moments in an enthralling two hour set of music that had the crowd transfixed.
Psychedelic and trance-like jams, created with a huge array of pedals, effects, loops and other gadgets were at times hypnotic on such numbers as Greenpoint. Other times, the swirly acid jazz, with hooks so sharp it was impossible not to be jerked into the groove, had the crowd dancing in a wild frenzy. Benevento, lauded as one of the most exciting and vital figures in the experimental jazz scene, was on-point all night with high speed piano breaks, sultry melodies, uplifting grooves and crisp execution that never wasted a single note. Despite plenty of improv in the power-jazz & straight out rock filled set, it all felt like it was moving in a purposeful direction. As was the case through much of TigerFace, Benevento’s extraordinary keyboard work shared the mix brilliantly with the bass and drums which were much bolder and in your face than on prior albums. This rich mix, with Benevento still clearly leading the way, led to a seemingly impossibly large soundstage for a trio.
In a first for a Benevento album, a couple of tracks included vocals, such as Limbs of a Pine. These vocals were deftly weaved into last night’s take on the album opener with loops of the Kalmia Traver’s voice mixed right in. Benevento’s playful weirdness was highlighted during this song when each member took turns donning the large TigerFace headpiece while ripping through individual solos layered over the already infectious groove. Other highlights of the well received set included the hard charging Greenpoint from Between the Needles & Nightfall, fan-favorite Atari, the luscious, soaring jam-riddled Eagle Rock and the My Morning Jacker cover Golden.
The fiery passion that Benevento plays with, the great chemistry with his bandmates and the seamless confluence of jazz-rock, experimentalism, psychedelia and jam-rock is simply not to be missed. It should also be noted that Benevento’s band chemistry is made that much more impressive when you realize that he uses different members when playing dates on the West Coast. Benevento has the rare gift of being able to take the listener on a thrilling adventure – playing songs, which may be new to the audience’s ears, that seem hauntingly familiar and wildly fresh at the same time.
The Benevento Trio is one of the most thrilling and compelling acts, not only on the jazz scene, but on the music scene as a whole today. With plenty of dates left on the tour, we strongly encourage any music lovers to make a point of catching one of the Band’s remaining shows. Upcoming dates include performances in Philadelphia, Portsmouth, Burlington and Athens. Tonight the trio hits the Bowery Ballroom in New York, where they will be supported by Brooklyn-based Woodsman who also opened the Boston show. Another trio pushing the envelope with intricate guitar work, pedal effects, infectious grooves and transcendent jamming, Woodsman’s psych-rock was a great compliment to Benevento’s set.
[Limbs of a Pine, starts at approximately 6:00 min]
Setlist courtesy of Clinton Vadnais
Greenpoint, Fireworks, Escape Horse, This is How It Goes, The Real Morning Party, Two of You, Atari, Heartbeats (The Knife), Golden (My Morning Jacket), R.I.S.D., Going West, Bus Ride, Eagle Rock, Limbs of a Pine
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