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Archive for the ‘Marco Benevento’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: FREDDIE GIBBS AND MADLIB-Tiny Desk Concert #920 (December 6, 2019).

I was watching this video and I thought–that piano player looks like Marco Benevento.  And holy cow it is!

And he is amazing–playing his jazziest, prettiest melodies.  In fact, the whole band is fantastic.  They’re a band that I didn’t know Benevento was part of called El Michels Affair.  Okay, maybe he’s not.  It turns out that El Michels Affiar is a band founded by Leon Michels (who plays saxophone here).  And check this out

After performing with Raekwon at a concert, the group began working with other members of the Wu-Tang Clan and covered several of their songs … [which]…  yielded an album released in 2009 as Enter the 37th Chamber, a play on the album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).  El Michels Affair followed this with a second album of arrangements of songs by Wu-Tang Clan and from its members’ solo releases, titled Return to the 37th Chamber.

And evidently producer Madlib really wanted to work with El Michels Affair

This Freddie Gibbs and Madlib Tiny Desk performance was a year in the making, largely because Madlib insisted on playing with El Michels Affair, a vintage funk and soul band based out of New York. But it was worth the wait. When pianist Marco Benevento opened with a delicate, almost jazzy run, it created the perfect opening — and juxtaposition — for hard-hitting emcee, Gibbs to jump in and ride the hell out of that beat.

Gibbs brags about Madlib the legend while Marco plays and Madlib makes all ind of weird sounds with the thunder stick.  Marco opens with a pretty rill, the funky bass from Nick Movshon kicks in and the horns (Leon Michels and Dave Guy in trumpet) play a wonderful melody. Its jazzy and improvish.

From the moment they launched into “Education,” a cut off the latest MadGibbs project Bandana, it was obvious Gibbs has spent countless hours honing his style. Meanwhile, Madlib, an enigmatic and reclusive producer known for his analog head-nodders, brought along a small thunder tube and vintage electric bongos circa 1960. Just getting a chance to see him ignited excitement in the NPR crowd.

I love the way drummer Homer Steinweiss shifts gears in what seems like mid song to a faster beat for “Gat Damn.”  Marco is on a soft synth sound while Madlib plays electronic bongos.  Of course, there’s some funky bass too.  Gibbs does some impressive quick jazzy rapping through the middle part.

“Soul Right” sounds great with some soft keys and horns. It’s slow and smooth and has a really catchy chorus.

Throughout the set, Gibbs’ uses the N-word about a million times and this song has a fantastic refrain of

‘Cause I been struggling my whole life, yeah
So I broke it down and it was all white, yeah

I had to wonder if it was awkward that everyone in the band is white.  Although Freddie says that there’s a white nigga up there-Leon.  The band is all his fam.  Leon… My boy!

But the conclusive jam in this killer set was “Freestyle S***,” a track that drips with the smoothness of satin and swagger of the seventies. It and the rest of the set elevated the room for both longtime purists and new fans alike.

“Freestyle Shit” opens with a great horn riff and Gibbs does some great fast rapping in the middle.  It is a fantastic musical jam.

But the way Gibbs emphatically showed his love for Madlib was just as beautiful to witness. There’s little doubt about their deep admiration and appreciation for each other. It was hands down, for me, the best Tiny Desk of the year.

This has turned into one of my favorite Tiny Desks.  Let’s hope this gets Marco Benevento his own show!

[READ: March 1, 2020] “Koftaesque”

This is an excerpt from Szabłowski’s book How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hokha, Fidel Castro and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of their Cooks.

This sounds absolutely fascinating and this excerpt was certainly enough tom make me want to read more.

I’m also fascinated that this book was written in Polish (translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) and was most likely translated to him from whatever the chef’s language was.

The example in the except is from Saddam Hussein’s chef Abu Ali.  He says that Hussein invited a bunch of friends on his boat and Ali, his personal chef, was to cook for them.  They were not at war with anyone and everyone was in a good mood. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 29, 2019] Phish

I blew off two of the three Phish shows I had tickets to this summer.  (I really should have gone to that Sunday show).  Camden is such a hassle.

Somehow, I find getting to Madison Square Garden much less of a hassle–which makes literally no sense.  These were my fourth and fifth times seeing them at MSG (compared to two in Camden).  But this MSG trip involved driving into the city ($15 tunnel toll?) and then getting a garage.  And, because I planned to go to an after party at Le Poisson Rouge with Marco Benevento, I decided to park in the village and subway it up.  That’s actually a lot of hassle.

But it was worth it.

This was my eighth Phish show (I could be in double digits by now if I didn’t sell those Camden tickets).

The theory is that the Sunday night of the New Year’s Eve run is always great.  And boy howdy was it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 10, 2017] Marco Benevento

2017-02-10-23-18-04Back in August I saw Marco Benevento open for The Claypool-Lennon Delirium.  I didn’t know Marco, but his show was so much fun I promised myself I’d see him again.  So I was pretty psyched to see that he was playing at this venue.

Marco’s show back in August was just so much fun–I had arrived late, after being caught in traffic, and within minutes he had totally uplifted my mood.

So I was thrilled to find the Ardmore such a small venue where I could get up so close–check out the bottom of the page for the up close look at his modified piano.  And when he show began, I was right up at the front of the stage.

2017-02-10-22-12-11In addition to Marco, who is a fantastic entertainer, his band consists of drummer Andy Borger (whose drum set includes a cowbell and what looks like the alarm bell from a school) and my new favorite bassist Karina Rykman.  2017-02-10-23-37-07It was actually Rykman who first won me over back in August because she was just so happy.  I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone have so much joy playing on stage before.  And this show was exactly the same.  Of course it helps that she’s a great bassist with an amazing sound.  She doesn’t do a lot of fancy stuff, but her groove is spot on.

The three of them came out and started playing the suite from The Story of Fred Short.  It’s a series of seven interlocking songs with a great groove and a lot of room to jam.   I walked in the middle of this suite when I saw them this summer and I was really excited to hear it again.  I love the bass lines and, in this case, the whistle in “Walking with Tyrone.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 10, 2017] Wolf!

2017-02-10-20-38-07Back in August I saw Marco Benevento open for The Claypool-Lennon Delirium.  I didn’t know Marco, but his show was so much fun I promised myself I’d see him again.  So I was pretty psyched to see that he was playing at this venue.  WOLF! opened up. Technically the band was billed as WOLF! featuring Scott Metzger.  This actually didn’t help me, because I didn’t know who he was either.  The only other clue was that he was also in a band called Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (with Marco Benevento) who do mostly Grateful Dead covers.

I genuinely didn’t know what to expect from WOLF!, although I certainly had an idea of what they’d sound like from those bona-fides.  But boy was I wrong.2017-02-10-20-57-45

Turns out that WOLF! plays pretty much all instrumentals.  The songs are kind of surf guitar rock-ish, but not exactly.  They are jam-band-ish, but not exactly (the songs are relatively short).  And they all center around Metzger’s wonderful, melodic soloing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 28, 2016] Mike Gordon

mgfall_insta-768x567I saw Phish for the first time this summer.  But I’ve been a fan of the band (especially their live stuff) for years. And while Trey Anastasio is the defacto leader of the band, I’ve always loved Mike–his bass playing is funky, his songs are a catchy and he seems like  a generally fun guy.

2016-11-28-23-38-12So when I saw that he was playing a small club tour, I grabbed tickets right away.  With Phish I could never get anywhere near the stage, but here at Union Transfer I could have been literally up against the stage.  I was frankly surprised at how uncrowded the show was–where were all the Phish-heads?

I really like Mike’s album Overstep (from 2014), and was happy to see he’d be playing songs from that album as well as covers and new songs.

But aside from that I didn’t really know exactly what to expect.  I wasn’t sure if the point of this band was to be different from Phish–short structured songs–or just a chance to play with different people or what. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] The Claypool Lennon Delirium

2016-08-31 22.23.17I saw Primus back in 1990 or so.  I’ve been a fan ever since but I’ve never seen them live again.  In 2015, Primus was touring with Sean Lennon’s band Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (who are really good, too) but my schedule conflicted so I couldn’t go.  When I heard that The Claypool Lennon Delirium were playing in Philly, I snapped up tickets.

During the above tour, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon got together to make a song and they enjoyed playing so much that they made a whole album.  And it’s as trippy and weird, as you might expect.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from them live.  I mean, it seemed like it would be an insane spectacle (Primus had recently toured Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which was a real spectacle).  In comparison to what I imagined the show would be like, it was pretty subdued.  The backdrop was three (non-changing) banners, and aside from switching guitars and basses a few times, there wasn’t a lot of shenanigans.  In fact, the usually loquacious Les barely said more than a few words the whole night.  When he first came out he said Hello Philly and commented that we were all staring at him.  And that was pretty much it.

Because it was all about the music.  And the music was really freaking good.  There was a ton of jamming–with each guy showing off.  Les was Les and Sean really wailed on his guitar and effects.  From the picture you can see what appear to be tablets in front of them.  Were they for lyrics or chords or were they playing Pokémon Go?  Who knows. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] Marco Benevento

2016-08-31 20.40.39I’d never heard of Marco Benevento before this show.  I looked him up before the show and listened to one song and thought it sounded okay.  Because of a tight security force (understandable in light of recent events), I missed the opening few minutes of his set, but he played for nearly an hour, so I got a full taste of Marco’s music.

And Marco is a performer. Sitting at a modified piano in a black and white striped suit, he conducted his trio through long, groovy songs.  Andre Borger played drums.  And I was struck as soon as I walked in at how great and wild the drums were.  Many songs had a click track of some sort (I think more just electronic noises on repeat), but Borger dominated the rhythm–playing great fills and smashing the hell out of everything in sight.

But the real star of the show was bassist Karina Rykman. (more…)

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