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Live Reviews

Confirmation: The 2004 Telluride Jazz Celebration

By Published: October 6, 2004
Taking the music beyond and in a new direction was the talk of the festival, tenor player Chris Potter and his new quartet. The group performs sans bass, with Rhodes player Criag Taborn leaning on his left hand and lower register for most of the support. With Nate Smith on drums and Adam Rogers, one of the freshest talents to check out, on guitar, this group seems to bridge the gap between bop, fusion, groove, and avant-garde. They have created a sound that is entirely their own with tunes that almost cosmically arrive at some of the most moving and intense places. The ability to listen, communicate and react was all the make-up for this powerhouse group.

Adam Rogers' telecaster is more than rhythmic support as he sometimes slaps the low-E string as though it were an electric bass guitar, while simultaneously providing tasteful and creative chord voicings throughout. When approaching a solo, Rogers seems timid and reserved. After the first solo, you learn the lesson that Rogers is not at all what he seems. What he projects as shyness acts as an unintentional set-up, as he knocks you over with volcanic solos erupting with beauty and originality. Along with Potter, this quartet should never be missed.

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Part 8: Nightlife

After the sun sets in Telluride, the festival takes on an entirely new persona. Charged by performance, inspired by sound, and eager to mingle, the night venues are nearly magnetic with energy. The "program" or schedule becomes merely a rough outline to be filled in over breakfast the next day. Between the Conference Center, the Nugget Theater, the Sheridan Opera House, Eagle's, and Fly Me To The Moon Saloon, mapping out the night becomes its own art. Walking from venue to venue, the music echoes out into the streets and stretches into the depths of the surrounding mountain trees .Jazz musicians are night owls by nature, and they seem to absorb and feed off of each other all night and into the early morning.

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Part 9: The Duo/Duo Buggin'

Coming from New York, I'm no stranger to the late-nighter's Marco Benevento and Joe Russo, The Duo. With a downtown habit of starting late, and playing even later, Marco and Joe are a partying, musical force to be reckoned with. If anything, they make you want to re-evaluate yourself for having so little energy and such a low personal production level. Their performances are driving experiences that find their way through dark passages, and the heaviest grooves. Like a loose cannon, they are always ready to explode through peaks and adventure.

Benevento is a proficient encyclopedia of knowledge, musical whit and originality. There is little holding Marco back, as he jumps from Rhodes, to B3, to acoustic piano. Joe Russo is his rhythmic, musical other half, riding every run and crescendo beat for beat, note for note. With nearly schizophrenic compositions that change on a dime from straight be-bop to punk rock, to adapted instrumental covers of Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead, the Duo never fails in living up to their expectations. In Telluride, they provided a contagious jolt of youth and extreme energy. Their Sunday afternoon set was a demonstration of their depth, and their growing and maturing class, mixed with the fire that makes them so special. Even for a daytime performance, their energy was mesmerizing and their sound was electric. Marco had told me later on that the leslie cabinet (rotary Hammond B3 speaker) was lacking a certain amount of bass output, which led him to rely on the Rhodes (like Potter's Craig Taborn) for much of the low end. The sound he created with overdrive and distortion wailed with feedback, like a Hendrix crying electric guitar excursion. On stage The Duo commands and deserves the respect that audiences and participating musicians walk away with alike. Then, Marco and Joe exploded into the night.

Once you are past the stage of acceptance that they are musically and mystically glued to each other, it seems more than perfectly logical that they thought to add Skerik and Mike Dillon to the mix. This quartet, "Duo Buggin'", is an eight-armed, eight-legged sound factory with potential for combustion and random explosions. They are an overflowing personality party that plays some of the most in your face, electronic, improvisational music. Masters of feedback, rhythm, melody, electronics and sound, they were all just sweating it out at Fly Me To the Moon while crowds gathered in every crevice of the club, even the rear door as it opened up onto the stage itself. There was room for us all, and room enough for their insanity and creative exploration. The four seem to be having more fun than anyone while performing, as they lock in just seconds after the first note is played.

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Part 10: Skerik and Friends/Hairy Apes BMX

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