Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dino Perrucci
Benevento/Mathis/Fishman :: 11.07.08 :: DROM :: New York, NY
Upon walking into DROM, a below-street-level, swanky jazz club with a small VIP area with tables and sleek couches, one was immediately struck by how tiny of a space it is. Formerly the absolute shittiest of dive bars, one where I can picture The Clash not only on the jukebox, but hanging out, this newer spot has come full circle in its transformation. The night opened with a set of folk tunes mixed with some rather impressive magic tricks from unheralded gem Nathan Moore.
Holding only a lucky 200 fans, Marco Benevento enlisted the help of longtime friend Reed Mathis (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Tea Leaf Green) on bass and Jon Fishman (Phish) on drums. With Phish's comeback shows within sight, Mathis' unmatched musical IQ and Benevento's Brooklyn roots and history of playing with Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon on the 2006 G.R.A.B. tour, expectations were electric for such an intimate meeting of musical minds and monster chops.
As the trio stepped onstage, loud, yet respectful applause littered DROM, as the band took the rather small stage tucked into a corner. A fourth member (presumably a friend of Benevento), held a camera and projected images onto a screen above the trio, further adding to the organic, loose feel of this night. Musically, the set started off with a bang: a super cover of My Morning Jacket's infectious "Golden," which proved to be an appropriate adjective for the next 80-plus minutes. The next few songs, "You Must Be a Lion" and "Atari," were off of Benevento's latest solo release, Invisible Baby. The former was nothing short of an ethereal, blossoming jazz flower, with Benevento leaving no room for warm up and scattering all ranges immediately with delicate precision.
On "Atari," Fishman, who seemed to ease himself into things this evening, made his presence felt with a steady onslaught of snares and quick fills as Benevento rattled the ivories over the top in a scattershot, yet totally intelligent way. Fishman seemed to be feeding off Benevento's leads, often times keeping his eyes on him and imitating where he was heading, while a few times leading on his own and reversing the roles. All the time, Mathis simply laid it down with locks of hair flying to-and-fro, as his lanky frame and gigantic bass followed in tow to the rhythm. Having seen Mathis in numerous settings, he absolutely shines in a role like this, a true professional's professional who can do it all - simply superb.
Deerhoof's "Twin Killers" was next and an absolute blowout, with Fish and Mathis leading the way with a one-two punch while Marco played the lead over the top. An ambitious number that usually relies on the guitar, Benevento showed he can do - and play - whatever he wants and pull it off wonderfully. "Record Book" and "Bus Ride," also off Invisible Baby, kept the attention of all, especially during the jam in the latter, which took off again with the interplay of Fishman and Benevento.
|Fishman & Mathis :: 11.07 :: NYC|
But, easily the biggest smile of the night on Fishman's face came when Benevento introduced "Diamond" Dave Dreiwitz (Ween, Bustle In Your Hedgerow) to the stage, where he was handed Mathis' bass. Fishman is a known Ween admirer, and the slowed down, instrumental version of Ween's "Baby Bitch" was simply beautiful. Another local friend, guitarist Scott Metzger (Bustle, American Babies, RANA) joined the trio for the set closing "Carnival of Souls" by Combustible Edison. Metzger absolutely shredded and proved a nice way to end the evening, along with the birthday party feeling, video-game sounding encore of Benevento's "The Real Morning Party."
But guests aside, it was clear the night belonged to the trio proper. The interplay among these three professionals was incredible. You often hear sports announcers speak of "basketball IQ." Well, if I was going to start a musical hoops team, these three would be my first picks. Benevento runs the point and shines while equally distributing the rock to his steady-center Mathis, who simply crushes his bass with each note like he's owning the slam dunk contest, and Fishman perfects the backdoor cut, following the eyes, the moves and leads of his point guard and occasionally adding a bit of his own swagger, a true sixth man (or in this case, third). Now, allow me to grab a board and one-hand a bounce pass about 100 miles south to my man, Jake Krolick for a look at Benevento's other recent trio...
11.07.08 :: Drom :: New York, NY
Golden (My Morning Jacket), You Must Be A Lion, Atari, Twin Killers (Deerhoof), Record Book, Bus Ride, She's Not There (The Zombies), Baby Bitch# (Ween), Carnival of Souls*, The Real Morning Party
# with Dave Dreiwitz on bass
* with Scott Metzger on guitar
Continue reading for Krolick's Philly coverage featuring Benevento with Marc Friedman and Josh Raymer...