Diana Costello

HT Interview: David Livolsi of Kung Fu

Kung Fu is a relatively new band, forming in November 2009 out of New Haven, Conn., and pulling together some of the scene’s most talented musicians: Todd Stoops (RAQ) on keys; Tim Palmieri (The Breakfast) on guitar; Rob Somerville (Deep Banana Blackout) on sax; Adrian Tramontano (The Breakfast) on drums and David Livolsi (Jazz is Dead) on bass.

The music is funky yet rocking, jazzy yet soulful. And momentum is building. Kung Fu has sold out shows throughout New England and this year will play at festivals including Mountain Jam, The Big Up and Rock & Roll Resort.

Hidden Track had the chance to chat with Livolsi about how the band’s sound is evolving and where the band is heading. Kung Fu will play a post-Furthur/ABB show March 11 at Sullivan Hall with Brooklyn-based Wounded Buffalo Theory opening.

The following are excerpts:

Hidden Track: Kung Fu is a little more than a year old, but the band’s already landing some nice festivals and selling out shows. What do you think has contributed to the early success?

David Livolsi: Well, you can’t ignore the fact that several of our members have been in popular bands. That does help. But I think the main thing is just the chemistry between all the members in this band. I mean, for some reason, there’s an energy that just works. And I think it just translates.

READ ON for more of Diana’s chat with Dave Livolsi…

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Review: The Breakfast @ Toad’s Place

The Breakfast @ Toad’s Place, August 26

After an impressive festival season, The Breakfast returned to New Haven’s legendary Toad’s Place Thursday to crank up the heat for their hometown crowd one last time this summer.

Opening the night was one of the band’s newer and perhaps most accessible tunes, Shotgun Butterfly. Played solidly, it was a great way to ease people into the vibe of what was still to come, and it got the crowd flowing nicely.

While I am always happy to be riding shotgun to guitarist Tim Palmieri’s wild excursions through guitar exploration, it’s not that he’s the sole pilot of this ship. Together with the three other members of The Breakfast – drummer Adrian Tramontano, keyboardist Jordan Giangreco and bassist Chris DeAngelis – the band plays as though operating under one single yet multidimensional mind, taking the audience as far out during instrumental jams as the collective group is willing to follow, then snapping it back effortlessly to the progressive riffs that keep people transfixed.

Really, few bands are capable of pushing the boundaries of a jam like The Breakfast. READ ON for more of Diana’s take on this show…

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Review: Marco Benevento Trio @ Bowery

Marco Benevento Trio @ the Bowery Ballroom, May 22

Put three of the scene’s most reflective and expressive musicians together on one stage and it’s sure to be impressive. So it should come as no surprise that the Benevento Trio — consisting of keys master Marco Benevento, bassist Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) and drummer Andrew Barr (The Slip)— transfixed the crowd at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom Saturday as they blanketed the space with their sonic landscapes.

[Photos by Eric Murray]

Beautifully melodic and at the same time exploratory, the music engulfed the receptive crowd. Annoying side chatter was all but nonexistent. Instead, the audience blissfully embraced the moment, all eyes and ears attentive to the action on stage, not wanting to miss a note or fall out of step with a beat.

Benevento — head down, fingers dancing over his keys and playing with effects like a mad but brilliant scientist — was situated stage right. His playing painted the sky, the space, the stars, the sun and the moon of the soundscape, transporting listeners through post-jazz-fueled improvisations. Benevento’s rig up close is a sight to behold! He has an old 66-note acoustic Wurlitzer studio piano tricked out as only he can. Custom bright-red keys connect him to the piano; the front cover removed with color changing LED lights illuminating his effect pedals resting just inside. For the technically inclined, he has the piano mic-ed and running through said effect pedals (your guess is as good as mine!) before running into his amp and a digital resting on top. For those who have seen other incarnations of his bands, this set up is focused on the potential of the acoustic piano — as opposed to all the electronic, digital and toy pianos he regularly employs.

READ ON for more of Diana’s thoughts on Marco @ the Bowery…

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