Sometimes two factions of audience members collide: patrons of the Festival who buy ticket packages, and fans of the artist performing. I remember Charlie Haden's concert a couple of years ago, supporting the folk/bluegrass album Ramblin' Boy, and the legions of people leaving during the concert because they didn't do their research. Marco Benevento's show was such an event.
Walking into Chapelle historique de Bon Pasteur, the home of the new Solo Piano series and a beautiful Fazioli piano, I saw elegant elderly patrons of the festival sitting in the foyer. I was genuinely curious as to whether or not they knew what they were getting into. With a row of guitar pedals and a MIDI controller atop the grand, Benevento wasted no time announcing that this would not be your usual "solo piano" concert. Performing his original trio repertoire in the company of Nintendo-sounding drum loops and processing the Fazioli through delay and tremolo effects, the row of 70-somethings in front of me seemed thoroughly baffled and proceeded to talk through most of the concert. Benevento has a penchant for simple, almost child-like melodies, and was very much musically aligned with the orchestral indie rock scene of this city (see: Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre). The first part of the concert was comprised of mostly original compositions, including "Greenpoint" which featured an interpolation of Nirvana's "Come as You Are."
As much as I loved the electronics, samples, and beats, the concert really took off as Marco started to abandon the effects and dig into the piano. He has a way of selling melody, as evidenced in his covers of My Morning Jacket's "Golden" (played over a drum loop that sounded pilfered from Paul Simon's "Late in the Evening") and homeboy Leonard Cohen's "Seemed So Long Ago, Nancy." The final three songs of the concert - an F-major soundscape piece in 5/4, the "Real Morning Party" delivered as a James Booker-style New Orleans piano raveup, and his arrangement of Monk's "Bye-Ya" in 7, in an appropriate and tasteful display of piano chops - were easily the strong point of the set.
Oddly enough, the older audience members were buying Marco's new album, Between the Needles & Nightfall, in droves after the concert. Maybe, as Josh Jackson hypothesized, it was for their grandkids. But that would have been an interesting crowd to survey for Meet the Jazz Audience.