Reviews that mention Han Bennink

October 1, 2018

Han Bennink/Steve Noble/Alexander Hawkins

11.8.17
OTOROKU Download

Significant if dissimilar duos are on these souvenirs of a London gig by Dutch percussionist Han Bennink and two locals, pianist Alexander Hawkins and drummer Steve Noble. In truth the main event is the sonic wit-matching between Hawkins and Bennink, with the drum duo merely additional glitter on the already burnished object.

Leader of the ICP Orchestra, Bennink is comfortable in this format having recorded duets with everyone from Irène Schweizer and Cecil Taylor to Myra Melford and Uri Caine. Meanwhile Hawkins most extensive duo work has been with Louis Moholo-Moholo. No chasm is evident however when the two start playing on this club date. Refining the stirred-up improvisations that bookend the set, the two also touch on lines composed by Bennink’s long-time playing partner Misha Mengelberg and the standard “Once in A While”, Responding appropriately and aggressively to the drummer’s confirmed clanking, rumbles and bomb dropping, the pianist scrambles from high to low frequencies, wiggling high-pitched glissandi and scurrying across the keyboard with finger dabs and darts. If inferences are made to Cecil Taylor’s kinetic style or Thelonious Monk’s angularity, then Hawkins is also capable of sounding out pseudo-ragtime tickles or honky-tonk pulses to counter Bennink’s frequent resorting to overbearing off-centre smacks and ruffs. Taking the inverse stance, the pianist also turns from staccato chording to timbral smoothing when the drummer relaxes into a Big Sid Catlett-like Swing Era-like chipping on ballad sequences. Fitting the jigsaw-puzzle-like piece together as the track evolves, Hawkins demonstrates that his playing is as assertive as it is reactive, working both hands into a dynamic tremolos and presenting free-flowing ideas as Bennink beats drums and slaps cymbals to keep up. Adding just-in-time phrase catching to the showcase, Hawkins’ sparkling cadenzas and Bennink’s positioned smashes blend individual musical colors for a notable sheen by the finale. MORE

June 11, 2018

Jazz Cerkno 23

May 17 to 19 2018
Cerkno, Slovenia

By Ken Waxman

Forty-one kilometres west of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, the compact village of Cerkno has been host to a world-class jazz festival for almost a quarter century. Jazz Cerkno 2018 added to the illustrious tradition with three days of notable performances mostly in a specially erected canvas tent, complete with a sophisticated sound system, adjoining the darkened and homey Bar Gabrijel. What was most evident was how musicians from this country of fewer than 2¼-million people, which arguably has benefitted most economically from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, can easily hold their own in the international improvised music scene. MORE

January 1, 2018

Herman/Bennink/Beets/Jacobs

Quartet NL
ICP 055

Swing is a state of mind. Zoot-suit wearing revivalists recreating Glen Miller or Count Basie arrangements note-for-note no more define the joyous empathy that was (is?) swing than formalists playing authentic instruments while wearing period costumes define Baroque sounds. Instead this Dutch quartet epitomizes the foot-tapping worldliness of the best players of the 1930s and 1940s even though the repertoire is 100 per cent Misha Mengelberg (1935-2017) pianist and erstwhile leader of the ICP Orchestra. While Mengelberg’s thorny compositions are usually thought of as having as little do with pre-modern Jazz as Cary Grant would have with a dusty Western film, they reveal their adaptability in this situation. MORE

June 1, 2016

Festival Report

Doek ABC
By Ken Waxman

With many parts of the Netherlands reclaimed from the sea over the centuries, the Dutch have long been adroit recycling, reusing and repurposing. So it’s no surprise that except for the soft-seated Bimhuis, with its magnificent waterfront view, most venues for this year’s Doek ABC Improvisation Festival in Amsterdam, April 29 to May 4, had initially been built as schools, warehouses and even a dungeon. These locations were particularly pertinent for this year’s fest which united local improvisers (A) with visitors from Berlin (B) and Chicago (C). The festival also demonstrated how different musicians repurpose the jazz and improvised traditions. MORE

April 12, 2016

Brötzmann/Van Hove Bennink

1971
Corbett vs Dempsey CD 020

Willem Breuker Kollektief

Angoulême 18 Mail 1980

Fou Records FR-CD 9&10

Free Jazz Group Wiesbaden

Frictions/Frictions Now

NoBusiness Records NBCD 79

Anthony Braxton & Derek Bailey

First Duo Concert

Emanem 5038

Something In The Air: Preserving Rediscovered Free Music Classics

By Ken Waxman

Fully grasping the intricacies of musical history often depends on the availability of recorded documents. That’s why many musical histories are re-evaluated once hitherto little known performances become accessible. This is especially crucial when it comes to completely or mostly improvised sounds. Reissued and/or rediscovered sessions, which preserve ephemeral moments, confirm the music’s wide dissemination. More importantly they add the equivalent of additional sentences that provide a fuller understanding of the free music story. MORE

February 11, 2016

Irène Schweizer/Han Bennink

Welcome Back
Intakt 254

Ran Blake

Ghost Tones

A side 0001 a-siderecords.com (700261418698)

Bennani/Greene/Silva/Henderson

Free Form Improvisatio Ensemble 2013

Improvising Beings ib 40

Joe McPhee

Ticonderoga

Clean Feed 345 CD

Lvio Minafra/Louis Moholo-Moholo

Born Free

Nicipic Records Inc 2013

Something In The Air: Advanced Jazz’s Fountain of Youth

By Ken Waxman

One common shibboleth of mid-20th century creative music was that “jazz was a young man’s art”. Putting aside the sexism implicit in the statement, the idea denied jazz musicians the sort of late career acclaim that notated music masters like Pablo Casals and Vladimir Horowitz enjoyed. Times have more than changed. Expanded from the Baby Boomer cliché that “50 is the new 30”, and its upwards affiliations, career longevity is now taken for granted in all serious music. These CDs recorded by improvised musicians in their seventies attest to that. MORE

May 22, 2015

Aki Takase/Alexander Von Schlippenbach

So Long, Eric
Intakt CD 239

Heliocentric Counterblast

Planetary Tunes

Enja Yellowbird ENJ-9726

Duduvudu

The Gospel According to Dudu Pukwana

Edgetone EDT 4144

When it comes to serious improvised music, tribute discs are as likely to be a bane as a boon. That’s because the artist involved faces a double challenge. Firstly can the player salute the honoree in such a way that the music will amplify rather than diminish that person’s reputation? Plus if that’s done properly will the resulting product be imaginative rather than an unoriginal run though of familiar tunes? Luckily the sessions here stay away from the overly familiar Miles-Louis-Duke-Trane team to honor less frequently venerated innovators. But while each session is enjoyable and while there are pleasurable and cultivated sounds on tap, none attains the level of creative freshness that the prototypes did. MORE

February 6, 2015

DVD Focus:

Afijn
Misha Mengelberg (ICP 044/Data Images 03)

Contrary, brilliant, lazy, disruptive, complacent are all adjective applied to , pianist/bandleader/composer Misha Mengelberg who has defined the Dutch style of improvisation or so-called instant composing since its late 1960s birth. Afijn is a masterful portrait of the man, edited and directed by Jellie Dekker. Interspaced with views on the cunning and mischievous pianist from musicians ranging from long-time partner, drummer Han Bennink (who says he started playing solo because “Misha never showed up for the first set”) to trumpeter Dave Douglas, plus friends, students and associates, as well as interviews with the subject himself done over many years A piano autodidact, who then studied and later taught at the conservatory, because of his unique playing style and early involvement in anti-establishment theatre productions, Mengelberg was controversial enough so that there is filmed footage of him almost from the beginning of his career. Afijn includes archival shots of the sardonic pianist, ever-present cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth, in small groups with Bennink and others plus various incarnation of the ICP Orchestra, which the pianist, drummer and reedist Willem Breuker founded. MORE

May 4, 2014

Han Bennink/Jaak Sooäär

Beach Party
Barefoot Records BFREC028 CD

Nakatani/Pererlowin

Anatomy of a Moment

New Atlantis NA-CD-010

A couple of guitar-drums duos define fusion in completely different ways. Both are attention-grabbers though, since neither accepts fusion as merely joining Jazz and Rock impulses. Instead American guitarist Shane Perlowin’s and Japanese-American percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani’s nine tracks mostly mingle noise-improv on the drummer’s part with psych-folk stylings on the guitarist’s. On the other hand the fusion advanced on the seven tracks of their CD by veteran Dutch drummer Han Bennink and Estonian guitarist Jaak Sooäär sticks pretty close to the Jazz canon. But they transform rote playing of standards into a new synthesis which includes Pop/Rock extensions and snaps from Sooäär plus Bennink’s busy pseudo-Swing Era drum accents. MORE

April 2, 2014

The Whammies

Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 2
Driff Records CD 1303

Douglas/Doxas/Swallow/Doxas

Riverside

Greenleaf Music GLM 1036

Flex Bent Braam

Lucebert

BBBCD 16

Tom Rainey

Obbligato

Intakt Records CD 227

Braxtornette Project

Die Hochstapler

Umlaut Records ub004

Something In The Air: A New Take on Standards – Jazz and Otherwise

By Ken Waxman

Since jazz’s beginnings, the measure of a musician’s talent has not only been how well the person improvises, but also how he or she interprets standards. In the 21st century a standard song has evolved past its Tin Pan Alley origins, plus distinctive purely jazz compositions have entered the canon. But while more conservative players treat standards as immutable, the CDs here are noteworthy because their creators distinctively re-imagine standards. MORE

January 13, 2014

Uri Caine/Han Bennink

Sonic Boom
816 Records 816-1201

Joel Futterman/Alvin Fielder

Interinfinity

JDF Music JDF 9

Leaving enough space for instantaneous advances, reflections and deflections, two sets of experienced players use only one piano and one drum kit each to show how superior in-the-moment improvisations can result from vastly differing methodologies.

A busman’s holiday of sorts – and aptly described by its title – Sonic Boom, recorded in Amsterdam, matches visiting American pianist Uri Caine (b. 1956) and hometown hero, drummer Han Bennink (b. 1942). While the nine mid-length tracks may surprise those who only know Caine’s more grandiose orchestral projects, where he slyly reclaims the music of so-called classical music icons, Caine has always been an exceptional Jazz keyboardist, well-versed in contemporary tropes and even funk. Similarly while Bennink’s reputation was made in European Free Music with the ICP orchestra, saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and the like, his grounding is in modern Jazz, and he always brings a touch of studied swing to his solos, that reference Big Sid Catlett and Kenny Clarke as much as anyone more modern. MORE

April 26, 2013

Han Bennink Trio

Bennink & Co.
ILK 192 CD

Eric Boeren 4tet

Coconut

Plattenbakkerij PRO 008

Bandleader or featured sideman, Amsterdam’s Hen Bennink has a distinctive percussion style that’s instantly recognizable after a scant few rattles and thumps. This is easily affirmed on these two fine sessions.

Bennink & Co is additionally fascinating because it’s only the second release by a trio helmed by drummer, formed after almost half a century of playing in others’ ensembles, most notably the ICP Orchestra. It features two improvisers less than half the 71-year-old Bennink’s age: Danish pianist Simon Toldam and Belgian reedist Joachim Badenhorst. In his more accustomed backing – if rhythmically disruptive – role, Bennink provides the beat on Coconut. Under the leadership of cornetist Eric Boeren, who has also played with the Bik Bent Braam ensemble for a couple of decades. This quartet with its echoes of Ornette Coleman’s first band with pocket trumpeter Don Cherry and Charles Mingus’ quartet with trumpeter Ted Curson and reedist Eric Dolphy, is filled out by saxophonist/clarinetist Michael Moore, also in the ICP, as well as well as bassist Wilbert de Joode who has likely played with every major improviser in continental Europe. MORE

April 26, 2013

Eric Boeren 4tet

Coconut
Plattenbakkerij PRO 008

Han Bennink Trio

Bennink & Co.

ILK 192 CD

Bandleader or featured sideman, Amsterdam’s Hen Bennink has a distinctive percussion style that’s instantly recognizable after a scant few rattles and thumps. This is easily affirmed on these two fine sessions.

Bennink & Co is additionally fascinating because it’s only the second release by a trio helmed by drummer, formed after almost half a century of playing in others’ ensembles, most notably the ICP Orchestra. It features two improvisers less than half the 71-year-old Bennink’s age: Danish pianist Simon Toldam and Belgian reedist Joachim Badenhorst. In his more accustomed backing – if rhythmically disruptive – role, Bennink provides the beat on Coconut. Under the leadership of cornetist Eric Boeren, who has also played with the Bik Bent Braam ensemble for a couple of decades. This quartet with its echoes of Ornette Coleman’s first band with pocket trumpeter Don Cherry and Charles Mingus’ quartet with trumpeter Ted Curson and reedist Eric Dolphy, is filled out by saxophonist/clarinetist Michael Moore, also in the ICP, as well as well as bassist Wilbert de Joode who has likely played with every major improviser in continental Europe. MORE

October 7, 2012

Lest We Forget

Willem Breuker (1944-2010)
By Ken Waxman

The blend of anarchism, precision and humor suggested by Willem Breuker Kollektief (WBK), the name of the ensemble the Dutch saxophonist/composer led for 36 years until his death from lung cancer on July 23, 2010, underlined the fascinating contradictions in his music. A collective has everyone on equal footing no matter how skilled, yet this Kollektief had Breuker as the undisputed boss of a group of first-class soloists. Furthermore the sly joke in this wordplay was also reflected in the WBK’s on-stage horseplay. Breuker not only ensured that the unmistakable modern jazz played included themes by notated composers such as Kurt Weill and George Gershwin, but also a large helping of physical and instrumental comedy that might culminate in the vocalizing of a ’20 ditty like “Yes We Have No Bananas”. MORE

July 11, 2012

The Royal Improvisers Orchestra

Live at the Bimhuis
Riot Impro 01

London Improvisers Orchestra

Lio Leo Leon

psi 11.04

Satoko Fujii Orchestra New York

ETO

Libra Records 215-029

Le GGRIL avec Evan Parker

Vivaces

Tour de Bras TDB9006 CD

Something in the Air: New Soloists for Improvising Ensembles

By Ken Waxman

Adding another voice to an established improvising ensemble is more precarious than it seems. With a group having worked out strategies allowing for individual expression within a larger context – and without notated cues – the visitor(s) must be original without unbalancing the interface. Luckily the sessions here demonstrate successful applications. MORE

November 5, 2011

Han Bennink, Brodie West + Terrie Ex

Let's Go
Terp Improv Series IS-16 CD/LP 2010

Unfazed by the decades of musical history represented by his Dutch associates – Han Bennink, probably his country most recorded jazz drummer, and guitarist Terrie Ex, who has been a punk-rocker since its first spit – Toronto alto saxophonist Brodie West leaps into the fray in this session with youthful inspiration and the skills resulting from constant improvising. The result reflects the title: the three create at a high, interactive level from the get-go until they finally exhaust all sonic possibilities. MORE

May 11, 2011

Wolter Wierbos

Deining
Dolfijn Records DolFinj 02

Isaiah Ceccarelli

Bréviare d'epuisements

Ambiances Magnétiques AM 199 CD

Gord Grdina Trio

Barrel Fire

Drip Audio DA00651

Axel Dörner/Diego Chamy

Super Axel Dörner

Absinth Records 018

Something in the Air:

Dutch Improvisers and Friends in Toronto

By Ken Waxman

Accommodating and adaptable improvising musicians from the Netherlands are as open to out-of-country influences as working with players from different countries in Holland or abroad. Confident in their own skills, they see non-local musicians’ participation as additions to their music, not competition. These beliefs characterize two ostensibly Dutch ensembles in concert in Toronto this month: The Ex with Brass Unbound is presented by the Music Gallery at Lee’s Palace on May 18; while Ig Henneman’s Kindred Spirits Sextet at Gallery 345 May 19. Violist Henneman’s combo includes two Canadians, pianist Marilyn Lerner and clarinettist Lori Freedman plus German trumpeter Axel Dörner. Meanwhile the Brass Unbound, working with the guitar-heavy, Dutch anarchistic punk-jazzers The Ex, is made up of Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, American saxophonist Ken Vandermark and Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos. A careful listen to some of these players own CDs demonstrates the sort of adaptability that characterizes these Dutch-centred combos in general. MORE

March 19, 2011

Bennink/Puglisi/Glerum

LAIV
Bassesfere BS014

Sten Sandell Trio

Face of Tokyo

PNL Records PNL004

Putting new spins on the delicate art of the Jazz piano trio are these two ensembles which produce notable work with their approaches the situation. Instructively enough each trio operates with the similar variables: a dominant drum stylist is linked with a solidly inventive double bass player plus an exploratory piano soloist who is comfortable playing both inside and outside.

On Face of Tokyo, the veteran player is Swedish pianist Sten Sandell, who has been that country’s paramount experimental keyboardist since the 1980s, most prominently in bands with drummer Raymond Strid and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. His cohorts are almost a generation younger. Bassist Johan Berthling, a fellow Swede, has partnered figures as diverse as Free Jazz saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist and microtonal guitarist Oren Ambarchi. Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the busiest drummers in the world, in ensembles ranging from Atomic to Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet. The ratio is reversed on LAIV. Here drummer Han Bennink, from the Netherlands is the old hand, having worked with most important figure in Free Jazz since the mid-1960s, including Brötzmann and is best-known for his long-time membership in the ICP Orchestra. Another Amsterdam-based ICP member – though a bit younger than the drummer – is bassist Ernst Glerum, who has also partnered Bennink in many combos. The youngest member here is Bologna-based pianist Fabrizio Puglisi, member of the Bassesfere Collective, who has worked with everyone from ICP cellist Tristan Honsinger to Italian drummer Zeno De Rossi’s different bands. MORE

February 22, 2011

ICP Orchestra

(049)
ICP 049

The Either/Orchestra

Mood Music for Time Travellers

Accurate 3285

Keeping a musical ensemble together for any length of time is an accomplishment. When it’s a 10 piece Improvised Music group, and the period is a quarter century, the achievement is even more remarkable. But that’s what Mood Music for Time Travellers celebrates: the 25th anniversary of the Massachusetts-based Either/Orchestra (EO). The EO’s potent mix of Jazz, Rock, Funk and more recently African influences, makes it unique among most American Jazz groups. MORE

December 14, 2010

Tobias Delius 4Tet

Luftlucht
ICP 048

One of those curious – or is it inimitable – sessions from the Netherlands where the sounds seem to simultaneously draw on the Swing Era and Free Jazz, these eight tunes with 15 [!] titles also suggests the commotion that arises from a meeting of four strong-minded players. Of course this is an exemplary commotion for a notable musical end.

Serendipitously Luftlucht showcases the talents of the players here who individually have been drawn to participate in Amsterdam’s rich musical gestalt. Only veteran drummer Han Bennink, long a mainstay of the ICP Orchestra, is Dutch born. Tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius, another ICP stalwart, is of Argentinean/British background; anarchistic cellist Tristan Honsinger, another ICPer, is an American who lives part of the time in Italy. Meanwhile bassist Joe Williamson, who has recorded with ICP leader/pianist Misha Mengelberg among many others, is a Canadian who now calls Stockholm home. MORE

March 8, 2010

Han Bennink

Hazzentijd
Data Images 06

Han Bennink’s art is intensely visual as well as musical, which is made clear on this excellent 70-minute documentary. An un-self-conscious entertainer as well as a first-class drummer, the lanky, 68-year-old Dutchman – often decked out in shorts and a headband – coaxes swinging beats from floors, walls and other objects as easily as from his kit.

Director Jellie Dekker mixes 1960s black and white stills and footage of Bennink playing with established jazzers like saxophonist Johnny Griffin and questing Dutch improvisers, with a full-color contemporary portrait of the drummer at home, in his studio, on the road and in concert, not only playing, but – trained as a an artist – creating distinctive drawings and sculpture. MORE

February 1, 2010

Han Bennink Trio

Parken
ILK 156 CD

Baars/Henneman/Megelberg

Sliptong

Wig 16

Drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Megelberg have been the odd couple of improvised music in the Netherlands for a half century. Stalwarts of Amsterdam’s long-constituted ICP Orchestra for almost that long, they have also been affiliated in a variety of bands with many estimable improvisers from both sides of the Atlantic. Still, the drummer and pianist are the classic confirmation of the expression opposites attracts. MORE

February 1, 2010

Baars/Henneman/Megelberg

Sliptong
Wig 16

Han Bennink Trio

Parken

ILK 156 CD

Drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Megelberg have been the odd couple of improvised music in the Netherlands for a half century. Stalwarts of Amsterdam’s long-constituted ICP Orchestra for almost that long, they have also been affiliated in a variety of bands with many estimable improvisers from both sides of the Atlantic. Still, the drummer and pianist are the classic confirmation of the expression opposites attracts. MORE

March 23, 2009

Sonic Geography: Munich

For MusicWorks Issue #103
BY KEN WAXMAN

Mammoth beer-drinking establishments and meticulously maintained older structures of all sorts are the images that resonate most strongly about Munich, Germany’s third-largest city. All year Munich’s outdoor beer gardens – one of which holds 8,000 [!] people – are packed with folks enjoying the traditional one-litre (die mass) glass of beer and chowing down on regional specialties such as Weißwürste (white sausages), Leberkäs (baked sausage loaf), and sweetish chewy pretzels, while listening to brass bands. Annually the 16-day Oktoberfest adds about 17 million visitors to the Bavarian capital’s nearly 1.5 inhabitants. MORE

October 8, 2008

Variations on a Theme

Guelph Jazz Festival Musicians On Their Own
Extended Play

Barry Guy/Mats Gustafsson/Raymond Strid

Tarfala

Maya MCD0801

Junk Box

Cloudy Then Sunny

Libra Records 203-019

John Zorn

News For Lulu

hatOLOGY 650

Matana Roberts

The Chicago Project

Central Control CC1006PR

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet

Tabligh

Cuneiform Rune 270

AMMÜ Quartet

AMMÜ Quartet
MORE

January 15, 2008

Daniele D’Agaro Adriatics Orchestra

Comeglians
El Gallo Rojo 314-13

Years spent gigging in Amsterdam means that Udine-based tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Daniele D’Agaro could import a trio of Dutch masters to flesh out the powerful Italian nonet heard on this top-flight concert CD. But while Tobias Delius and Sean Bergin on reeds plus drummer Han Bennink may be better known than the Italians, but they only add pungent seasoning to the main course supplied by local players. Among them are Saverio Tasca, whose ringing vibes can be as soulful as Milt Jackson’s, and Bruno Marini, whose pumping organ riffs keeps the swinging straight ahead – when he isn’t adding orchestral color on bass clarinet [!]. MORE

November 27, 2006

Evan Parker

The Topography of the Lungs
psi 06.05

More heard about than heard, ever since Britons Derek Bailey and Evan Parker had their falling out in 1987, which included the proviso that The Topography of the Lungs (Incus 1), would not be reissued as long as Bailey ran the Incus label, the 1970 four-track LP has taken on the status of a totemic object.

Finally available again on Parker’s psi label, following Bailey’s death, and expanded with two additional tracks, the 1970 session lives up to its reputation as a defining artifact of European Free Improv. Yet 36 years later what resulted from the collaboration among Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones, Bailey on guitar and Dutch percussionist Han Bennink now sounds if not commonplace, at least contemporary. The saxophonist’s split tones and extended slurs, Bailey’s fastidious string manipulating and bending plus Bennink’s volleys of cymbal scratching and drum top pummeling have become lingua franca of a certain segment of the improv world. MORE

September 12, 2005

Ann Arbor’s Edgefest expands in its Ninth Outing

for CODA

Participants, including members of Chicago’s AACM, representatives of Montreal’s Musique Actuelle scene and a New York-based musician and hybrid instrument designer who’ll jam with a golf club and an umbrella, will all take part in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s ninth annual Edgefest, October 19 to October 22.

Taking place in a medium-sized college city, home to the University of Michigan, about an hour’s drive west of Detroit, Edgefest has steadily expanded from its one-day debut to the four-day 2005 festival. Besides American musicians, particular emphasis is on innovators from the music scenes in Holland and Quebec. This year, for instance, Claude St-Jean’s Les Projectionnistes is the featured Quebec ensemble – its second Edgefest appearance – with saxophonist Tobias Delius’ Quartet – including cellist Tristan Honsinger and drummer Han Bennink – representing the Netherlands. MORE

December 6, 2004

ICP ORCHESTRA

Aan & Uit
ICP 042

Up to their old tricks, the 10 members of the Dutch ICP Orchestra prove once again that having a good time and swinging doesn’t mean that you have to give up artistic integrity. Similarly this 70-minute collection of compositions, mostly by pianist/leader Misha Mengelberg, twists enough POMO strands that the band’s position as an evolving workshop -- like Mingus’ bands, for instance -- remains constant.

This time out, you notice that American cellist Tristan Honsinger -- an on-and-off ICP member for years -- and trombonist Wolter Wierbos have moved into centre position in the band, sharing the most space with originals Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink. Yet the longest -- almost nine minute tune -- is written by and a showcase for trumpeter Thomas Heberer. MORE

October 11, 2004

DAVE BURRELL’S FULL BLOWN TRIO

Expansion
High Two Recording HT001

BENNINK/CLARK/GLERUM
Home Safely
Favorite 01

Instrumental fashions come and go, but one of the most consistent jazz combo configurations is the piano trio. As long as the three sides of the triangle are properly balanced, despite its maturity, it’s still possible to create outstanding sessions. Both these CDs confirm the equation to a greater or lesser extent. Neither could be confused for the other however.

Put simply, EXPANSION is an event -- the first CD by pianist Dave Burrell for an American label since 1966 -- and a masterful addition to his slim catalogue. Not for nothing is the band called the Full-Blown Trio either. William Parker is on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums. MORE

August 16, 2004

VIJAY IYER

Blood Sutra
Artists House AH 09

MICHEL SCHEEN QUARTET
Dance, My Dear?
DATA 042

What a different a decade makes.

GenX pianist/composer Michiel Scheen and GenY pianist/composer Vijay Iyer have an almost diametrically opposed program of how to organize a standard saxophone and rhythm date. Many of the differences can be attributed to the fact that Amsterdam’s Scheen is in his early forties, while Iyer is merely grazing thirty.

Veteran of ensembles led by bassist Maarten Altena, violinist Ig Henneman and a playing partner of local and international musicians, Scheen brings a hard and heavy beat and a POMO cut-and-paste outlook to his nine compositions. With the CD listed as being by his quartet, as opposed to the other with Iyer’s name above the title, he also gives full range to his associates, all of whom are members of the Netherlands’ improv lab, the ICP Orchestra. They are steady bassist Ernst Glerum, freeform reedist Ab Baars and splashy drummer Han Bennink. MORE

June 21, 2004

REVOLUTIONARY ENSEMBLE

The Psyche
Mutable Music 17514-2

PETER BRÖTZMANN
FMP 130
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP244CD

Reissues of two hard-to-find LPs from the mid-1970s point out the differences that had developed between European and American improvisers even at that early date. While both approaches are equally valid, it’s ironic to consider that at this point the Europeans were catapulting harsh, screaming textures reminiscent of the New Thing’s beginning, while it’s the Americans who were more concerned with form and structure in their compositions. Almost 30 years later, the situation is almost completely reversed, though the participants here are mostly committed to their original vision. MORE

April 5, 2004

DANIELE D’AGARO/ERNST GLERUM/HAN BENNINK

Strandjutters
HatOLOGY 590

Geometric as well as musical, STRANJUTTERS succeeds because its structure depends on each of the players involved intersecting like the lines that make up an isosceles triangle. Italian reedman Daniele D’Agaro may be the main figure and contribute six of his own compositions here, but his clarinet and tenor saxophone work is outstanding because it’s framed in the accompanying talents of the Dutch rhythm section.

Why is there such sympathy between the Udine-residing reedist, bassist Ernst Glerum and drummer Han Bennink? Simple, D’Agaro lived in Amsterdam, for more than a dozen years. Some of the bands he played in during that time included Glerum and Bennink -- mainstays of the scene as well as members of the ICP Orchestra. MORE

November 17, 2003

SIMON NABATOV/HAN BENNINK

Chat Room
Leo Records LR 378

Containing the bear has been used as an expression to describe putting a brake on Russia’s imperial advances from the time of the czars through the heyday of the expansionist Soviet Union. But what animal characterizes the Netherlands the way the bear symbolizes Russia?

What this metaphoric query has to do with the CD is clearer than it appears at first once you listen to it. From his earliest playing days, Dutch drummer Han Bennink has seemed to have imperial ambitions -- his bombastic percussion attack could take over any session more quickly and efficiently than Stalinists ever subdued a Eastern European satellite. His drumbeats can easily mask the sounds of associates, up to and including the members of a big band. CHAT ROOM, his duo with Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov, in contrast, is a monument to balance. MORE

October 13, 2003

CONFERENCE CALL

Variation on a Master Plan
Leo CD LR 371

Unlike Osama bin Laden or George Bush, it’s very feasible that the members of the Euro-American co-op Conference Call don’t have a real master plan -- and definitely not one for world domination.

However the band’s newest CD does pinpoint a plan variation, as veteran drummer Han Bennink has now taken over the drum chair. It seems to be not a minute too soon, either. For while the flailing Dutchman’s penchant for schtick and bombast can often pulverize more delicate sounds, Conference Call’s other three members are tough enough to face a Lowlands invasion. Plus the nearly perpetual percussion sounds he adds to the disc push the others out of a studied delicacy to which they sometimes seem to be heading. MORE

October 6, 2003

PETER BRÖTZMANN

More Nipples
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP236CD

Prime cuts of Peter Brötzmann and company at his most ferocious, the 40 minutes of music on this CD were literally forgotten until 2002 when FMP founder Jost Gebers discovered this cache of unreleased tapes in his archives.

Living up to the series title, the three tracks were recorded at the same 1969 session that produced NIPPLES (Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 205 CD), one of the German saxophonist’s most distinctive early sessions, that itself was out-of-print for years until reissued in 2000. Unlike that disc, British saxophonist Evan Parker and guitarist Derek Bailey are only featured on the title track. The other two highlight the reedist’s quartet of the time, completed by Flemish pianist Fred Van Hove, the late German bassist Buschi Niebergall and Holland’s Han Bennink on drums and percussion. MORE

June 30, 2003

ICP ORCHESTRA

Oh, My Dog
ICP 040

MYUMI PROJECT BIG BAND
Rooted: Origins of Now
Southport/Asian Improv S-SSD 0092

Performing with a mid-sized band of improvisers is widespread because it provides freedom both for the composer(s) and the players. Nine plus instruments often provide enough variations to illustrate a writer’s vision; and with fewer than 12 bandmates, musicians can contribute much more than if they’re mere section placeholders.

Small big bands can also be used to express radically different concepts as these skilled CDs demonstrate. Together for almost 30 years, the Dutch ICP Orchestra has featured many different soloists over time, but with laissez faire direction coming from pianist/composer Misha Mengelberg, there’s a consistency there. Tatsu Aoki’s Myumi Project, on the other hand, is mostly a recording ensemble, put together to give flesh to the bassist/composer’s musical portraits of Asian American improvisers in particular and Asians in North America in general. MORE

March 3, 2003

BRÖTZMANN/VAN HOVE/BENNINK

Balls
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 233CD

FRED VAN HOVE
Complete Vogel Recordings Collection
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 229 CD

All good things must come to an end. Thus it was no surprise that in 1976

the pan-European trio of German saxophonist Peter Bötzmann, Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove and Dutch drummer Han Bennink (BVB) dissolved their partnership after nine years.

Although the band was highly influential during its lifetime, with discs like BALLS, listening to it in tandem with Van Hove’s solo and duo discs from the same period you can hear why things had to come to an end. The trio was renowned for its pure power, most obviously expressed in the saxophonist’s overblowing and the drummer’s manhandling of a giant kit. The pianist often seems like the odd man out and the reason he gives for BVB’s demise was that any attempts at intricate playing on his part was drowned out by Bennink’s battery of percussion. MORE

December 16, 2002

MANFRED SCHOOF

European Echoes
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 232CD

ALEXANDER VON SCHLIPPENBACH
The Living Music
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 231CD

Multi-reedman Peter Brötzmann always insists that when pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach and trumpeter Manfred Schoof first heard his pioneering free jazz band in the mid-1960s “they just laughed their asses off. At that time they played the Horace Silver-style thing”. But, by the end of the decade as Brötzmann widened his circle to include other experimenters like Dutch drummer Han Bennink and worked with American jazzers like trumpeter Don Cherry and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, his fellow Germans began to come around as well. MORE

November 18, 2002

SPRING HEEL JACK

Amassed
Thirsty Ear TH 57123.2

Note: this CD project was done by certified professionals. Kids don’t try to replicate it at home.

That fanciful slogan could be attached on a parental advisory sticker for this disc. For despite the proliferation of less expensive computer mixing and sampling equipment over the past few years, producing a CD which melds improvised music and studio-created sounds is much more difficult than your average club remix.

But Britons John Coxon and Ashley Wells, who operate as Spring Hell Jack (SHJ), know exactly what they’re doing, as this session aptly demonstrates. Many attempts by others are embarrassing, unmusical, or both. MORE

September 16, 2002

ERIC BOEREN

Soft Nose
Bvhaast CD 1501

BEVAN/BISHOP/ZERANG/EDWARDS
Nham
Foghorn Records FOGCD03

Back when the CD first came on the market, one of its heralded advantages was longer running time. No longer would creativity have to be limited to 45-odd minutes of music, abruptly bisected when one LP side ended.

Putting aside the anomaly that many pop bands still struggle to fill CDs with 10 three-minute tracks, even improvised musicians sometimes find that inspiration runs out before the time limit. What that means is that less-than-satisfying CDs of up to 75 minutes are being released that could have been classic sessions if 10 to 20 minutes had been shaved off the playing time. MORE

March 8, 2002

MISHA MENGELBERG

Four in One
Songlines SJ-1535-SACD

Analogous to the stereotypical eccentric scientist experimenting in his lab filled with bubbling beakers and test tubes, composer/pianist Misha Mengelberg has, since the early 1960s, probably more than anyone else created what we think of as modern Dutch jazz.

With his faithful associate, Han Bennink -- whose playing is often as deranged and disruptive as it is theatrical -- usually loping behind, drum sticks in hand and snare on the floor, Mengelberg has mixed up his distinctive strange brew that seems totally unique in the land of windmills, canals and dikes. With a dash of experimental classical, a splash of American post bop and a lowlands infusion of comedic anarchy, he’s produced a hybrid Frankenstein monster that’s distinctive without scaring the pants off anyone -- although Bennink seems to prefer wearing shorts when he plays. MORE

December 3, 2001

GLOBE UNITY ORCHESTRA

Globe Unity ’67 & ‘70
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 223 CD

Souvenirs of a time when “globe unity” meant more than the convergence of commercial or military interests, this CD of never-before-released tracks feature a small army of Euro improvisers luxuriating in the freedom promulgated by John Coltrane’s ASCENSION and The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

Formed in late 1966, following a Berlin Jazz Festival commission for founder/pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, the Globe Unity Orchestra (GUO) evolved over the years from this wild-and-wooly Energy ensemble to one that joined other European large groups in a concern for compositions. Besides, many might find that these two pieces, initially taped for German radio, more exciting than what came from the band afterwards. MORE

June 18, 2001

HANS BENNINK/TERRIE EX

The Laughing Owl
Atavistic ALP 129 CD

BINARY SYSTEM
Invention Box
Atavistic ALP 127CD

Rock musicians trying to turn out what they conceive of as improvised music often run into an insurmountable problem. They're so used to working with a heavy consistent beat and regular rhythms that they shoehorn those attributes into what they think are freer numbers.

Moreover, accustomed to making their points with vocals, the instrumental sounds they produce are often unnecessarily bland. It's as if lacking words to hide behind, they don't want to upset anyone with non-vocal music. MORE

October 4, 2000

LEO CUYPERS

Heavy Days Are Here Again
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 207 CD

HAN BENNINK
Nerve Beats
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 206 CD

If improv music was looked on like pop music, this 1981 Cuypers session would have the same currency as Neil Young's reunion dates with Crosby, Stills & Nash. (As a matter of fact some of the hairstyles on the HEAVY cover would have been right at home on vintage folk-rockers' heads).

Maybe that's stretching the point a bit. But, still, this free-for-all is notable not only because it was the first time pianist Cuypers and Breuker -- founding members of Breuker's zany Kollektief -- played together after an acrimonious Lennon & McCartney-style split up, but also because it was Breuker's first collaboration with Bennink after an even more distant estrangement. Oh, and the music's great too.

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September 20, 2000

MISHA MENGELBERG

Solo
Buzz ZZ 76012

ICP ORCHESTRA
Jubilee Varia
hatology 528

Comparisons are odious, but if anyone could be characterized as the Thelonious Monk of Europe it would be Dutch pianist/composer Misha Mengelberg. Headman of the little recorded Instant Composers Pool Orchestra, he's also the theoretician behind the creative musical irony which underlines much of what we know as post modern Dutch --and by extension -- European jazz.

Suddenly, though, we have two ways to appreciate Mengelberg's art, discs that could be the 1990s versions of MONK'S MUSIC and THELONIOUS HIMSELF. In fact, on the orchestra CD, you could even say that the pianist has his own Art Blakey in long-time drummer-collaborator Han Bennink and, to stretch the point even further, his own John Coltrane in saxophonist/clarinetist An Baars.

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June 17, 2000

PETER BRÖTZMANN

Nipples
Atavistic/Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 205 CD

One of the great, lost Euroimprov records, NIPPLES could rightly be described as a supersession. Recorded in 1969, less than a year after German saxophonist Brötzmann's seminal call to free jazz arms, MACHINE GUN, it has been out of print for almost the same amount of time. Not only does the title track feature five of the MACHINE GUNners, but it adds guitarist Bailey, who with saxophonist Parker would very soon turn away from this extroverted style to concentrate on the distinctive British "scratch and pick" style.

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