Though it's more tightly focused and accessible than the glorious sprawl of Benevento's 3-disc, Live at Tonic outing last year, Invisible Baby remains a daring, genre-bending trio record, one that showcases more of the acoustic piano chops Benevento gleaned from Joanne Brackeen and Brad Mehldau. The opener “Bus Ride” features some of the anthemic, vamp-oriented virtuosity one might expect from a former sideman of Phish's Trey Anastasio. It leads into a gentler redux of “Record Book” from Live at Tonic, connoting innocence — like a soundtrack to a birth or a sunrise — with its simultaneous sense of peace and rustling.
One of the best things about Benevento, honed from his long association with Joe Russo, is his synergistic sharing of the spotlight with drummers. You hear it on “Atari,” when Benevento leads with a jittery riff that sounds like Liberace at the harpsichord and drummer Matt Chamberlain immediately catches the frenetic campy spirit and carries the tune the rest of the way. And check out drummer Andrew Barr's ingenious rhythmic shadings on “Ruby,” a mélange of Benevento's first dream about his daughter and the actual experience of her falling asleep in his arms (it turned up on Tonic as “The Arrival of Greatness”). Some of the more lightweight material ranges from inspired giddiness (“The Real Morning Party,” like a goofy video game gone a-clatter) to perverse (“If You Keep Asking Me” features a riff that is meant to be annoying, and succeeds). The finale, “Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?” bookends well with “Bus Ride,” with its swelling (mellotron fueled) climaxes and stylish interplay.