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Marco Benevento

Dave Dreiwitz

Andy Borger

Dave Dreiwitz & Marco Benevento

photos by Andrzej Pilarczyk

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Red Square
Albany , NY
October 22, 2011

by Jeff Nania

“Greenpoint” was in fact the point of departure for The Marco Benevento Trio's night of music at Red Square.  This is also the opening track off their newest record Between The Needles And Nightfall.  The song is essentially a single riff repeated from beginning to end with various ambient layers of sound surrounding it while a melodic piano resonates on a cloud above it all.

Marco's instrument of choice was a Wurlitzer upright piano with the front cover off it so that you could see the strings and hammers.  It is the same one that he played this summer at The Big Up festival.  Sitting just above the keyboard were various pedals and electronic triggers that facilitated a whole multi colored galaxy of sounds.  Throughout the night Marco favored a heavy tremolo, and frequently sounded like an electric piano or guitar.  He also muted the strings with his left arm while striking ambitious harmonics with his right.  A few of the songs like “Numbers,” and “Wolf Trap” begin with electronic samples that Marco triggers. 

Benevento's “It Came From You” was a highlight of the evening that got everyone twirling around, and whistling at the high points as the Kirby's Dreamland-esque melody plugged along.  This tune just makes you feel like you are floating in a happy dream land devoid of worries.

There is so much to say about Marco's appeal.  His long drawn out melodies that seem to bubble along.  His improvisations that at times sound like they themselves are melodies.  In this way in particular he can be compared to jazz great, Keith Jarrett.  The thing is, Marco isn't any particular “kind” of piano player.  His music draws as much from indie rock and pop as it does from the jam band tradition, and jazz, and soul.

In fact, his soulful rendition of Amy Winehouse's “You Know I'm No Good” has become an autographic cover in its own right.  So has Elton John's “Benny And The Jets.” That is part of the genius of this trio. 

The sheer amount of sound that this trio was able to put out was like a full bodied brew that touched on every possible taste in the spectrum.  From floaty video game like melodies that appeal to the inner child of the 90's, to intense electronic jams that see bassist Dave Dreiwitz effecting his Fender P Bass to the point of sounding like a large hacksaw cutting right through the mix.

Marco also has a great rapport with the audience.  He checked in after the first couple tunes to say hello Albany, and to introduce bassist Dave Dreiwitz (from Ween) and drummer Andy Borger.  Then he went off on a tangent about how Dreiwitz found an addition to the group - a stuffed mouse that was sitting up against the bass drum.  It sat there in stark contrast to the large lion's head that was attached to the end of Marco's upright piano facing the audience.

During one of his chats with the audience, Benevento talked about how the trio has two residencies this month – one in New Hampshire, and one in Burlington.  He said “We enjoyed our residency so much that we left all our merch at the venue.” This included vinyl pressings of the new album.  “So download it on iTunes,” Marco said before making a self mocking fart noise into the microphone. 

He also suggested that maybe his next residency could be in Albany.

JEFF NANIA is a contributing writer for the capital region's alternative newsweekly, Metroland, as well as local arts news blog Nania is also a musician currently playing with his award winning fusion group The Chronicles, as well as local area big bands like The Joey Thomas Big Band, and Brass-O-Mania Big Band. He is a 2010 graduate of SUNY Albany's Journalism, and Music programs.