Breaking the Sound Barriers: UCSD duo joins Brooklyn’s Sound Sculptor at The Loft


By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

Brooklyn-based Marco Benevento is something of a cult figure in the world of avant-jazz, known for his blend of catchy tunes and experimental techniques. Combining keyboard artistry with the latest high-tech tools, he uses amplifiers, guitar pickups, samplers, and circuit-bent toys — electronic gadgets whose wires are snipped, intercepted, and redirected to produce new kinds of sounds — to create his own special effects.

Hailed as a “sound sculptor,” he’ll be bringing his genre-bending stylings to The Loft on Dec. 1. Although he performed downtown at Street Scene five years ago, this will be his first appearance in our area with his trio, which includes bassist Reed Mathis and drummer Andrew Borger, also featured on his 2010 album, “Between the Needles and Nightfall.” The title refers to a phrase used by the midwife before the birth of Benevento’s second daughter.

“She gave my wife some acupuncture and predicted the baby would come ‘between the needles and nightfall,’ ” Benevento said. “The baby was born at 7:40 p.m.”

Benevento, who tours widely, has also scored and played soundtracks for Walt Disney’s “Dumbo” — at least, the “Pink Elephants on Parade” segment — and the RogerCorman/Vincent Price thriller “House of Usher.” Usher, first performed live at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, had a repeat performance this Halloween in Burlington, Vermont.

Benevento’s appearance here is the first stop on a cross-country tour that begins in the west and includes a 2012 Jam Cruise out of Fort Lauderdale Jan. 9-14. At The Loft, he’ll be playing an acoustic piano with guitar pickups and whatever else he decides to throw into the mix. And he’ll introduce his newest, just-released, two-song, 7-inch recording.

Opening for Benevento will be an duo of UCSD sonic experimentalists known as KaiBorg, composed of David Borgo, a saxophonist, ethnomusicologist and associate professor in the music department’s Integrative Studies program, and Jeff Kaiser, a trumpet-player, multimedia artist and Ph.D.-track student.

Both men also use laptops in performance, and play, separately and together, in many different venues and recordings. In 2009, KaiBorg was featured at the grand opening of UCSD’s Conrad Prebys Music Center.

Borgo, who has been part of the faculty since 2002, first met Kaiser about five years ago, when the latter joined the Integrative Studies program after a varied career that included time spent as a guitarist, choir director, and pastor.

“We immediately hit it off as fellow improvisers,” Borgo said. “And Jeff has a tremendous electronic background, having grown up with pedals and effects. My background was more acoustic, jazz fusion and rock, but he’s been working with electronic adjustments and extended instruments since the 1980s.”

Laptops have made their work more interesting, more complex, and more portable.

“It’s a whole new instrument to learn,” Borgo said. “And a whole lot of thought has to go into creating the interface so you can be in the moment when you play. But it’s a lot more convenient to carry around a laptop than a suitcase full of guitar pedals!”

If you go


Marco Benevento and KaiBorg


8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1


The Loft at UCSD, Price Center East, 2




$25 (Reserved) / $15 (GA) 
UCSD Student: $5 (858) 858.534.TIXS