Though the tempo may be quick and the audience buzzing, Astoria-based musician Mike Bono always wields his guitar with comfort, precision and originality. Listeners can expect both solid technique and unique melodic choices from this 23-year-old artist.
The recent Berklee College of Music graduate has already brought his music to France, Ireland and California as well as jazz clubs throughout Boston and New York City. Although jazz seems to be his calling, Bono fell into the genre almost by accident.
“I heard this guitar player on the radio. His name was Pat Martino,” Bono recalled, referring to the renowned guitarist and composer. “It blew my mind. From then on, I started buying some of his records and talking to people, and finding out about more music to check out.”
These experiences marked the start of a busy career as a performer and led him to Boston after high school, to study at Berklee. Here he met Matthew Halpin (tenor sax), Naseem Alatrash (cello), Christian Li (piano), Roberto Giaquinto (drums) and Jared Henderson (upright bass), who would join him as members of the Mike Bono Group.
“From Where You Are,” the Mike Bono Group’s debut album, was released in the fall of 2013. Each musician displays remarkable technique, and together their voices blend seamlessly, engulfing the listener in a multi-dimensional sound.
According to Bono, part of the group’s success is due to their personal connection.
“We’re all best of friends, we live together, and a lot of the music that is on that record we’ve been playing for probably three, almost four years now,” he said. “A lot of it, we learned and developed together, which I think is really special.”
Bono moved to Astoria in 2013. He said that his new surroundings have had a significant impact on his writing.
“I’ve been going out and hearing music all the time, and I get to see some of my heroes play on a regular basis, which is amazing. I think that’s definitely influenced a lot of the newer stuff I’ve been writing,” he explained.
When he’s not performing or writing, Bono can be found teaching classes at the Calhoun School in Manhattan, as well as private lessons.
He said that he enjoys the task of bringing beginners into music.
“Teaching someone to play starting from nothing is actually a lot more challenging,” he said. “How do you teach them things that they should know fundamentally about the guitar in a way that’s not going to bore them and make them not want to play?
“I really do love teaching at the high school,” he added. “They’re really open to learning and I have a great relationship with them, so it makes it really fun for me.”
The Mike Bono Group is performing regularly, with plans to record later this year, Bono said. To learn more about the musician, visit mikebonomusic.com.