The Monkey is a new Manhattan showcase venue that exemplifies sound quality and presents music the way it should be heard.
On Thursday night May 17th , a world-acclaimed classical guitarist and composer Benjamin Verdery performed an engrossing hour-long set. Benjamin donated his time to raise funds for a non-profit called “Arts in Action a Visual Art Program”, an after school art enrichment program. Adorning the space was the children’s beautiful artwork that spoke volumes for the program and its director Angela Tripi-Weiss.
Last year I saw Benjamin perform at Carnegie Hall with Andy Summers of “The Police”. They played a commissioned work by Igram Marshall composed specifically for classical and electric guitar and backed by the American Symphony Orchestra. Andy and Ben continue their collaboration and have recorded a new instrumental album, "At First You Build a Cloud," soon to be released.
Verdery is always spectacular to hear but tonight was a special treat. In this venue the sound was so exceptional that the nuance of every guitar sound, like the bending of a string, harmonics and chopsticks slides on nylon was heard with clarity and subtlety. To hear an instrument the way a performer intends it to be heard is a tremendous opportunity for the listener.
His first selection for the evening was an original arrangement of Jimmy Hendrix classics; Ezy Rider, Little Wing and Purple Haze performed in three movements. Verdery reworked each signature song starting with key identifiable lead in grooves and extending, repeating, layering and reconstructing those components. This selective dialogue was a mark of respect that honors the music of Hendrix.
The original composition “Be Kind All The Time” featured an amplified classical guitar that corresponded with a digital delay system. A digital sound expert did the programming in real time. This created a surround sound as the prior styling heard up front resonated in re verb from the back. Ben’s collaboration with himself became quite challenging, but heard with ease.
The Classic The Blue Danube by Johan Strauss was complex and familiar, and it sounded wonderful.
Benjamin Verdery has a close personal relationship with his guitar. For 40 years he has practiced four to five hours a day. At the Monkey that intimacy was shared with the audience.
Twelve flights up the elevator to the forty capacity room. The space has high ceilings equipped with acoustic ceiling tiles, a reasonably sized raised stage. A small loft area is set up for sound and video production. Behind the stage are large windows that frame two water towers in the foreground and the New York City skyline in the distance.
Dominick Frasco is responsible for creating The Monkey. He is also an accomplished classically trained guitarist. His mission is to create a showcase venue equipped with surround sound giving musicians an opportunity to have control of how their music is presented and heard. The musician can take charge of every aspect from the pricing, sound, promotion and visual effects.
The Monkey. What a concept
"Branches" buy new Benjamin Verdery LP
Web Album Link