If there was just one scrap of biographical ephemera that could possibly compel you to explore Marco Benevento’s music, it might be this one: When Benevento graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 1999, his diploma was presented to him by David Bowie, who also that year gave the commencement address. That’s a pretty potent bullet point for Benevento’s résumé; the only thing more amazing is everything else he’s done.
It’s hard to avoid the word “prodigy” when discussing Benevento. The New Jersey native began playing piano at 7 and by his teen years he had become fascinated with recording devices and keyboards of every description, particularly synthesizers. By high school, he was a veteran of several Jazz and experimental Pop/Rock bands and had played extensively around New Jersey and New York City. Immediately after his graduation from Berklee, Benevento joined Jazz Farmers in New York, then formed the Benevento Russo Duo and his own band, which has been active for the past dozen years.
Benevento’s first piano-based release, 2008’s Invisible Baby, was nominated for Jazz Album of the Year by the Independent Music Awards. Since then, he has released all of his albums on Royal Potato Family, the label he started with manager/renowned music publicist Kevin Calabro; his last release was 2017’s Woodstock Sessions.
The gifted keyboardist and circuit-bending fan (he reconfigures electronic toys to create the sounds he wants) has studied under and collaborated with a broad and impressive group of musicians, including John Medeski (Medeski Martin and Wood), John McEntire (Tortoise), Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), Trey Anastasio (Phish) and A.C. Newman (The New Pornographers). In addition to his keyboards/drums duo with Joe Russo (who he has known since junior high) and his own band, Benevento plays with Garage A Trois; his Grateful Dead tribute, Almost Dead; and a Led Zeppelin interpretive outfit called Bustle in Your Hedgerow.
Need more? Benevento built the Fred Short Studios on his farm where he raises goats and chickens with his wife and daughters, he’s an accomplished chef, collects musical instruments from Craigslist and mysteriously wound up in the Pixies’ video for “Andro Queen.”
Apparently, the only thing Benevento has failed to master at this point is the fine art of sitting still.