One album could never encapsulate the range of music played from the stage in a single nightclub over its 9-year tenure, but Marco Benevento isn’t one to accept “never.” Tonic shut its doors after nearly a decade of bringing avante garde, creative, and experimental music to the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the dismay of many, including Benevento who, with Live at Tonic, offers a three-disc retrospective of his month-long residency at the club in November 2006.
This sprawling work springs from improvisation, while covering the entire musical map. Benevento riffs on Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” with the help of Reed Mathis and Matt Chamberlin, haunts the corners of “Carnival of Souls” alone with dripping synth, and bangs out Benny Goodman’s “Moonglow” with unfettered bravado, joined by Mike Gordon on bass.
Intermingled are choice forays into sound, whether playing as a duo, a trio, by himself, or on a night of drumming with the help of Joe Russo, Bobby Previte and Mike Dillon.
While Live at Tonic will stand as a fitting reminder of the club and its mission, the casual listener may get lost in the noise and unflinching experimentation. For those willing to dive headfirst into Benevento’s world – a place where composition means little and exploration means everything – the reward is an impressive snapshot of Tonic taken by one of today’s finest keyboard alchemists.
Live At Tonic will be released August 7 on Rope-A-Dope Records