For live-music fans, one of the greatest benefits of living in New York City, aside from the fact that nearly every band or musician eventually stops by, is the prevalence of unique collaborations—one-off and short-run shows involving top-notch local and national musicians. On March 9th and 10th, one such collaboration occurred within the intimate confines of the Knitting Factory’s Tap Bar.
Marco Benevento, Reed Mathis and Mike Dillon are three of the most adventurous musicians on the scene today, and on the first night of the 2-night run, they lived up to expectations with two satisfying sets of improvisational alchemy. After a technical delay to properly anchor Dillon’s bass drum—which, given his power, proved to be necessary—the trio started slowly, feeling each other out, acclimating to the sound of the room and each other, and just generally testing limits.
Many of the jams featured melodic crescendos reminiscent of Play Pause Stop, the fine 2006 album from the Benevento/Russo Duo. As always, Benevento ranged across the keys, exploring melodies, harmonies and healthy doses of dissonance with equal skill and abandon. In the middle, Mathis anchored the sound, keeping the pace as Benevento and Dillon jockeyed for position. A consummate bass player and musician, Mathis served as the glue for the shape-shifting drums and keys.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to see Dillon play, make sure to check him out in any one of his many incarnations—with Les Claypool, Skerik and the rest of the Critters Buggin’ bunch, or Mike Dillon’s Go-Go Jungle. The man is an absolute beast on the set, blasting away in the spirit John Bonham and Keith Moon, or even Danny Carey. But he also possesses the precise touch necessary to master the tricky tablas, as evidenced by the highlight of the night, an extended piano/tabla duel with Benevento.
Featuring a wide variety of covers—the only announced one being Elliott Smith’s “Memory Lane,” featuring Mathis on guitar—and a wealth of genre-bending exploration, this show demonstrated the possibilities created when talented musicians get together and let loose.