By: David Schultz
The joy of Benevento’s original instrumentals is that they lend themselves to individual interpretation. For the hirsute keyboard maven, many of the songs draw their inspiration from his children and the simple joys of domestic life, like Merriweather Post Pavilion without the looping machines and swirling psychedelia. Without lyrics, Benevento’s aural melodies can guide the listener in any way they wish to be led. For most at the Bowery Ballroom, Benevento’s lush melodies, framed to perfection by Mathis’ pounding bass lines and Barr’s nimble drumming, evoked an impassioned response with most finding their dancing groove.
Edging Mathis by a hair in a Messiah look alike contest, Benevento opened the night with the opening triplet from his new album: “Greenpoint,” “Between The Needles & Nightfall” and “Two Of You.” A master of gadgetry, Benevento really is at his finest when he’s displaying his skills on the piano. For many of the songs spread out over a lengthy pair of sets, Benevento would introduce themes upon which Mathis and Barr would embellish. By the end though, Benevento would tie everything together into a powerfully gripping finale, drawing the crowd into his brainstorm. Amongst his originals, Benevento slid in a moving cover of My Morning Jacket’s “Golden” and swaggered through a boozy ragtime rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know That I’m No Good.” Clearly enamored with his melody from “The Real Morning Song,” Benevento playfully goaded the audience into singing it back to him before offering up an encore which included a measured take on the Curtis Mayfield tinctured “Mephisto” and Marc Friedman, Barr’s bandmate from The Slip, jumping in on bass for a lush version of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless.”
Benevento will bring his music around the country for the majority of the summer, including two sold-out nights at Fly Me To The Moon as part of the Telluride Jazz Festival. No strangers to Telluride, The Whitewalls, Dave Lott, Matt Epstein and Josh Bloom’s post-Licorice project, will open both Colorado nights.