4 SERIOUS STRINGS… Stephen DiBonaventura: Not Your Average Banjo

The four string (aka “tenor”) banjo is not one you usually associate with jazz, unless it’s old time stuff like Johnny St Cyr strumming away on an old Armstrong disc. Otherwise, you’ve got most current guys like Bela Fleck picking on 5 easy pieces. Not only does Stephen DiBonaventura show that he’s got the pluck (sorry, just couldn’t resist that one!) to strum to the likes of boppers like “Joy Spring” or modal pieces like “Little Sunflower,” but he can pick and grin on the trickiest of melodies. Along with Steve Giordano/g, Steve Meashey/b and John Mosemannn/perc, he delivers lithe and buoyant readings of Chick Corea’s “Spain” as well as ballads such as “Days of Wine and Roses.” His interplay with the guitar, be it acoustic or plugged in, is a delightfully mix of tones, with “Blue Bossa” skipping along delightfully and “On Green Dolphin Street” chugging along like a HO scale locomotive. There are two complete discs here, so you’re gonna get your full, and you’ll quickly figure out if you are listening for the novelty or the actually music. I think you’ll hang in there with the guy, and make it a Bona Ventura after all!


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