Runaway truck

| 27 Apr 2012 | 01:19

In 2000 at a music festival in New York City, Mike Bendy saved Felix Pastorius’ life by pulling him out of the way of an oncoming tractor trailer. Pastorius, being from south Florida, was not accustomed to city truck drivers. When Bendy randomly ran into the Pastorius brothers again at the restaurant Rudy’s the next day, the seeds of a band – and a new genre – had been sown.

Then in 2002 Mike Bendy made a spiritual and musical pilgrimage to FL to visit his Bass hero Jaco Pastorious’s gravesite. He then looked up the address of Jaco’s house and knocked on the door. Felix answered and invited him in. After getting to know Bendy and hearing his abilities Ingrid Pastorious, the twin’s mother invited Bendy to stay with them at the house and he and Julius began working on a drum and bass duo they called Shotgun Face.

The families grew close. John and Mike Bendy, both of Warwick, were invited to play at the annual Jaco Birthday concerts. Ingrid Pastorious championed the band, helping them make contacts, attended their gigs, helping with booking, and letting them practice until all hours of the morning. Her encouragement and recognition of the talent, dedication, and unique sound both sets of brothers had as a combined unit helped make the band a reality.

Bendy Pastorious calls their music “punk jazz” (a term first used to describe some of Jaco Pastorius’ later gigs), but the band plays with such passion, complexity, intensity and funkiness that they might have invented a new genre of music. With Mike Bendy, 30, on bass, John Bedny, 31, on guitar, and Julius Pastorius, 29, on drums, their compositions are complex and mature but delivered with the volume of a runaway freight train – or, perhaps, tractor trailer. None of them went to music school, but their improvisations can take the music from a whisper to total anarchy, and then back to a riff that is so fast and precise you are not sure how three people could have memorized something so difficult.

The band’s story could not be told without giving due credit to jazz legend and electric bass pioneer Jaco Pastorious. His legacy of virtuosity, invention, passion and artful composing is one of bass player Mike Bendy’s main musical influences, and it was Jaco’s swagger and intensity that first piqued guitarist John Bendy’s interest in jazz.

Over the years the band has bad top-level players like Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band, and trumpeter Roy Hargrove sit in at the gigs at the Zinc Bar in the city. They’ve played jazz festivals in Italy, and received musical endorsement deals.

But they still play close to home. Catch them at Eddie’s Roadhouse in Warwick or Brian’s Backyard BBQ in Middletown.