The Benevento Russo Duo
Cell phone cameras. MP3-playing sunglasses. Laser-pointing, voice-recording, de-ionizing salad spinners. Thanks a lot, technology -- now everything that does anything does something else too. The musical equivalent is of course the Benevento Russo Duo, the Brooklyn-based drums 'n' keys outfit that might be the Optimus Prime of genre-crushing hybrid bands. Using a battery of ivoried equipment from various eras and dimensions, Marco Benevento can weave a '66 Hammond groove into tomorrow's feedback-drenched drone, playing with himself as much as getting off master stickman Joe Russo. Russo is a disciple of Billy Martin of NYC trio Medeski, Martin, and Wood; he's ultimately relaxed but so tight in the pocket that the bulge is embarrassing. He plays with toys as well -- weird electro sequencers, samplers, and filters that alter and augment the Duo's sound to overwhelming, laugh-at-how-crazy-this-shit-is improv spazz jazz.
If there's any touchstone to these guys, it's MMW. Both groups take up the downtown mentality, spinning crisp instrumental hooks from heavy chops and buoying both with a fearless inventiveness. But the Duo is high-tech rockist to MMW's sultry jazzbo, distilled down a man, and as a result, perhaps more blunt-force potent. The Duo's songs are sonic events and then some -- melodies with brain-snagging hooks, aching and personal even minus lyrics. From electro funk grit to sloppy cock rock to classical grandeur, it seems there's nothing these guys can't do.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.