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Marco Benevento to take on Columbus stage with ‘TigerMask’

Courtesy of Kevin Olitan

If a pianist strikes A on a piano instead of A-sharp, as it is written in music scores, a listener might assume the pianist played the wrong note.

However, Marco Benevento, a jazz pianist from Brooklyn, N.Y., thinks that’s “hauntingly beautiful” – as long as it’s improvisation.

His impassioned melody is scheduled to echo in Columbus on 9 p.m. Friday at Woodlands Tavern.

Benevento said he became captivated by the beauty of improvisation when he started training at Boston’s Berklee College of Music with professor Joanne Brackeen.

“When you start to learn about improvisation, you can’t help falling in love with jazz,” Benevento said. “Also, my teacher, Joanne, guided and helped me to become a better artist. She pushed me into a next level.”

He said his interest in music sparked when he was a teenager in a band with his friends.

“When I was 15 years old, I really started getting into playing and recording,” Benevento said. “But the most fun part was band stuff, playing with friends.”

Benevento said rock music such as Led Zeppelin inspires him to incorporate more rock-related instruments into his music. His goal is that when people listen to his albums, it will be easy to identify more than one musical instrument.

However, Benevento said that on his new album, “TigerFace,” which was released Sept. 11, he tried something new: using vocals.

“I have no fear to put different sounds on my record,” Benevento said. “I was curious about using vocals, so I tried and it sounds good.”

So Benevento invited Kalmia Traver of indie-dance band Rubblebucket to sing on tracks, “Limbs of a Pine” and “This is How It Goes.”  

When Benevento performs, he said he likes to entertain the audience’s ears and eyes.  

“We perform wearing tiger masks,” Benevento said, laughing.

He said even though he chose the album’s title, “TigerFace,” randomly, wearing tiger masks matches the title and makes his performance visually amusing.

Rebecca Turner, a second-year in music education, said she respects Benevento’s choice to wear masks onstage.

“Tiger masks are a unique character to wear,” Turner said. “If it helps portray their music better, I think he made a brilliant choice.”

Turner said she’d like to check out Benevento’s music because she loves to listen to music that mixes multiple instruments.

“I think using a variety of instruments adds depth to music,” Turner said. “I like variety and his music might match my taste.”

Amanda Appis, a fifth-year in middle childhood education, said she would like to attend one of Benevento’s performances.

“I think improvisation is really funny,” Appis said. “I actually attend when OUAB brings pianists from The Big Bang Bar to hear improvised music that they play. I think his (Benevento’s) performance would be fun like that.”

Tickets for Friday’s show are $15 and may be purchased on Woodlands’ website or at the venue, located at 1200 W. 3rd Ave.

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