Benevento Russo Duo Best Reason to Buy The Sun Review

Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Jam band astro jazz from organ and drums duo.

Peter Marsh 2005

Not sure if the title's an endorsement of Rupert Murdoch's esteemed newspaper, but seing as these two boys hail from Brooklyn,I guess it's unlikely. What's more certain is that Marc Benevento (organ, etc) and Joe Russo (drums, etc) make a big, juicy space-jazz noise that's much bigger than the sum of its parts.

Brash, brawny but capable of a hushed delicacy, the duo's music owes as much to the psychedelic improvs of the US 'jam band' movement as to any notions of 'jazz' (um, whatever that is). Certainly fans of Jimmy Smith won't find much to keep them happy here, but those attuned to the electronically enhanced mashups of Wayne Horvitz or Medeski, Martin and Wood at their most exploratory will find themselves in nirvana.

Opening with the twisted soul-jazz groove of 'Becky', our heroes plot a wayward course through twiddly electronica, barely controlled thrashing and delicate minimalism.It's music with aconstantly shifting dynamic, stuffed with rich textures and subtle rhythmic inflections. Occasional guest spots from saxophonist Skerik (of fellow mutoid jazzers Critters Buggin' and Bobby Previte's late, lamented Ponga), percussionist Mike Dillon and the wonderfully named Smokey Hormel on guitar are subtle, to say the least; these guys don't need much help.

Only rarely do we get anything approaching a conventional solo; Beneventolayers thick, glutinous chords over his slippery basslines, topped off with glistening, heavily distorted melodic lines. But when they dig in unplugged(check the free jazz/soul jazz deconstructions of "The Three Question Marks" for details), it's clear there's much more going on than a spot of electronicnu-jazz knob twiddling; this is great stuff.

Russo powers proceedings with a sure-footed touch that's alert to his partner's every inflection.He can do tribal thump, prog-rock tricksiness and make them all groove like a mother (as they say). Producer Joey Waronker (best known as Beck's drummer) is a crucial presence too, placing the music in a sympathetic soundscape, full of power and crunch. Music that feeds the ear, the feet and even the heart. What more could you want?

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