The Jazz Universe Inside My Head

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Benevento/Russo Duo

Benevento/Russo Duo
Friday March 3, 2006
Recher Theater, Towson

The Benevento/Russo Duo is not really a jazz band but they are…if that makes sense. They create a melting pot of sound that takes its influences heavily from jazz, rock, ambient, techno, among others genres. The band is a mutt of music, taking the best elements from each breed and making it into their own syle. They were in Towson this past Friday at the Recher Theater demonstrating their unique meld.
The duo is made up of keyboardist Marco Benevento and drummer Joe Russo. How much sound could possibly come from just two guys? Well, a lot is the answer. You should someday see for yourself. Arriving a few minutes late (because of work), the author of this page could feel the band’s vibrations coming from the Recher a few blocks down York Rd. When inside the venue, the floor rarely stopped pulsating, as the two friends resembled mad scientists behind their instruments. Russo must have smoked a pack of cigarettes. The noise is gigantic, at times graceful and serene, but in other instances quite dark and frightening; it shifts seamlessly through inner emotions without hesitation. At one point the room was spinning with the sound of warped loops that flew around.
The band kept a fairly upbeat mood for much of the show, running through numbers like “Play, Pause, Stop” and their most known piece “Best Reason to Buy the Sun.” When Benevento hits a climax in a song it sounds as if there is a full quintet on stage. The bass rumbles, multiple keyboards are in distorted effect, and Russo is always right with him keeping the beat down. The mood was energetic and joyous, as mentioned before, for most the night. Then Benevento made a transition into another realm. The melody from Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” was slipped into the soundscape and the audience stopped dancing. The band will often slip in song teases, sometimes introducing the middle of a tune first before arriving at the beginning. This was a good example of that trait as they turned “Android” into a building epic, weaving in and out of the song before it exploded at the end. And just like that it was over. An hour and a half set seemed like 10 minutes; it was that good. Don’t miss these guys if they come your way.

This past week I’ve really enjoyed:

Ornette Coleman Change of the Century
Gene Harris and the Three Sounds Live at the “It” Club
Ahmad Jamal Legendary OHEH and Epic Recordings
Medeski, Martin and Wood Jazz Café, London, England 9/15/05
Sun Ra Other Planes of There


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