By Eric LiebetrauJanuary 22, 2008
After back-to-back accomplished albums with the Benevento/Russo Duo—Best Reason to Buy the Sun
(2005) and Play Pause Stop
strikes out on his own with Invisible Baby.
While once again roaming across genres, Benevento still maintains firm jazz roots, producing an updated organ trio sound injected with darker, post-rock elements.
With the backing of Reed Mathis
—bassist for Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Tea Leaf Green—and drummers Matt Chamberlain
(Tori Amos) and Andrew Barr
(The Slip), the keyboard wizard is on solid footing throughout the album. The opener, “Bus Ride,” revolves around a simple banjo line, with a building crescendo that recalls some of the more sublime moments of Play Pause Stop. Ditto the next track, “Record Book,” minus the banjo and plus some nice restrained, measured playing from Benevento. “The Real Morning Party” is a silly but oddly appealing track that may stick in your head for days—if anything, hang with it for the double-drum solo at the end.
The trio stretches out a bit on “If You Keep Asking Me” and “Ruby,” slower-paced tunes that work as companion pieces. The psychedelic, somewhat noisy introduction of the former belies a delicate ballad combining subtle elements of both Michael Wolff’s gentler tunes, and it bleeds naturally into the latter. The album closes with the best track, “Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?,” a textured, emotional song bearing a resemblance to the whirling, propulsive jazz of bassist Avishai Cohen
Benevento and Duo fans are certain to enjoy this satisfying album, and patient newbies will be rewarded for their attention.