Marco Benevento: The Jammy Side Of Jazz

Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Golden"
  • Artist: Marco Benevento
  • CD: Me Not Me
  • Genre: Jazz
Marco Benevento 300

In "Golden," keyboardist Marco Benevento applies jazz principles to a My Morning Jacket staple. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

Berklee-educated jazz keyboardist Marco Benevento is defined by two things players with similar training often strive to avoid: jam-band associations and plainspoken, hooky melodies. He's embraced the jam scene's famously loyal fan base and collaborated with its players, from the workmanlike to the iconic. His original repertoire exploits pop and rock values, with the bold sonic textures of post-rock, electronic music and indie rock upholding tunes as hummable as those of movie themes, '80s pop or Beatles standards.

On his new album, Me Not Me, the pop and rock correlations are made literal, with covers of songs by Deerhoof, Beck, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison and, in the case of "Golden," My Morning Jacket, the powerhouse rock band with a stylistic wanderlust also appreciated in jam circles. The song plays to MMJ's alt-country roots, resembling some composite of Gram Parsons and AM-radio soft rock. (Case in point: The song was covered by America on the band's surprisingly fine 2007 comeback, Here & Now.) In Benevento's hands, this bittersweet line suggests a lost cocktail-hour standard passed through a Kid A-era Radiohead filter. It's a strange juxtaposition, but an effective one — his music is both adventurous and approachable.

Thanks to The Bad Plus' intense reconstructions and lyrical covers by Brad Mehldau (with whom Benevento studied), there's a strong precedent for rock interpretations in modern jazz piano, but Benevento's electrified model is fiercely personal. By making himself accessible to the jazz, jam and rock worlds, his work defies all those schools.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Featured Artist

Purchase Featured Music

Me Not Me

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Me Not Me
Artist
Marco Benevento
Label
Royal Potato Family
Released
2009

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.