Out & About

May 22, 2014

Virtuoso cubed

SARANAC — Harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio can bend a mouth organ to any musical genre  — classical, blues, jazz and pop.

And so can his cohorts, Steve Benson and Joe Deninzon, with their respective instruments guitar and violin.

The Bonfiglio Trio performs two concerts in Saranac this weekend for Hill and Hollow Music.

Jazz, blues and get-down music will raise the roof Saturday evening at the Saranac Fire Hall.

The trio unplugs with Purcell, Bach, Hovhaness, Foster and Gershwin on Sunday afternoon in the Saranac United Methodist Church.

“It gives a person the opportunity to hear what is possible on all these instruments, the reason being they are very few people who cross over,” said Bonfiglio, who lives in New York City.

“I can play legitimate classical concertos and turn ‘round and play blues harmonica. Joe can play Paginini’s ‘Caprices’ and turn around and sound like Jimi Hendrix on the violin. He can play bluegrass, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, classical, bossa nova — any style. And, the same is true with Steve. He can play classical guitar and turn around and play rock, blues jazz and bossa nova. There are only a handful of musicians that can play in different genres and be good at it.”

The double concerts offer something for everyone.

“Don’t be surprised if we play some Elvis,” Bonfiglio said. “Elvis may just follow Bach. Audiences love that stuff … It’s a great concert to bring your kids. There’s nothing more exciting to see some kid in the front row get slack jawed when you pull out a blues harmonica.”


Bonfiglio’s instrument chose him.

“That’s kind of what happens,” he said. “You sit behind an instrument a long time, practicing six to 12 hours a day, the sound of it has to be really exciting to you.”

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