It's been almost two months since I last made confession (I mean, blogged). What did it?
It was hearing Marco Benevento's Invisible Baby if you must know. I had asked my music biz buddy, Kevin for this record some time ago when I noticed all the attention it was garnering from David Fricke's "Fricke's Picks" to NPR and PopMatters. And I had it sitting in my iPod unlistened-to until today when I set the device on Shuffle and went about cleaning up my apartment.
Benevento, a pianist whose name I was only vaguely familiar with through his Benevento/Russo collaboration on Ropeadope, has made a truly stunning album of grand melodic content and hooky forms steeped both in jazz harmony and rock songwriting with strong doses of electronic noise and reverb. This music reminds me both of the cheery pop of Ben Folds as well as the more contemplative piano playing of Bruce Hornsby and Elton John with hints of Coldplay and Radiohead, sans vocals.
But Invisible Baby completely takes on its own identity especially through extensive use of distortion and tempo-shifting. From the opening balls-to-the-wall blow-man-blow rocker "Bus Ride" to the boogie woogie-like shuffling anthem, "The Real Morning Party," to the hippy-trippy "If You Keep On Asking Me," this album is sure to have a track to make you stop and think.
"Ruby," "Record Book," and "You Must Be A Lion," reminded me of movie music. Take note creative directors!
If you're a fan of the above-mentioned dudes or The Bad Plus, Brad Mehldau (who coincidentally was one of Benevento's teachers) or just good instrumental songwriting, you have to pick this album up!
Readers of this blog should please stay tuned for:
1. a list of shows I've seen this calendar year ranked in order of memorability.
2. a long-promised interview with pianist Helen Sung.
3. a review of photographer Jimmy Katz's new collection of his photography, Jazz Katz. When you see this book, you will realize Jimmy is heir apparent to the legacies of Francis Wolff, William Claxton and William Gottlieb. Unbelievable stuff.