Friday 11 August 2017, 7.30pm
“Han Bennink is an international treasure, a towering catalyst bringing sparkle, humour and character to an art form that too often is dull.” – London Jazz News
In the fields of experimental and outsider music, the word "legendary" can be applied far too liberally, but for Han Bennink no other word will do. Celebrating a three-quarter century this year, the Dutch drummer and percussionist has had a colossal impact and influence in the fields of free jazz and improvised music, from his seminal and varied work with the likes of John Tchicai, Peter Brötzmann and Derek Bailey in the 60s and 70s, to a still restlessly inventive collaborative output with artists as wide-ranging as The Ex, Pat Thomas and Eugene Chadbourne in more recent years.
Cafe OTO has had the priviledge of playing host to many of the greats of improvised music since its inception in 2008, but one artist who never seems to have performed here enough is Han Bennink. This residency – his first shows here since 2013 – aims to go some way in redressing that balance, with a packed line-up of duo and trio performances alongside collaborators old and new.
Combining equal parts virtuosity and anarchic irreverence, Bennink has never rested on his laurels, and this should be an enthralling and thrillingly unpredictable three days
“What ultimately makes Bennink special is his manifest love for the music, a love that inclines him to tear down the cardboard walls that too often separate different schools of jazz. At his best, with colleagues who share his all-encompassing stylistic embrace, Bennink plays the continuum of jazz as an instrument unto itself.” – Drummerworld
Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Han Bennink was born in Zaandam near Amsterdam in 1942. His first percussion instrument was a kitchen chair. Later his father, an orchestra percussionist, supplied him with a more conventional outfit, but Han never lost his taste for coaxing sounds from unlikely objects he finds backstage at concerts. He is still very fond of playing chairs.
In Holland in the 1960s, Bennink was quickly recognized as an uncommonly versatile drummer. As a hard swinger in the tradition of his hero Kenny Clarke, he accompanied touring American jazz stars, including Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, Wes Montgomery, Johnny Griffin, Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon. He is heard with Gordon on the 1969 album "Live at Amsterdam Paradiso" (on the Affinity label) and with Dolphy on 1964s "Last Date" (PolyGram). At the same time, Bennink participated in the creation of a European improvised music which began to evolve a new identity, apart from its jazz roots. With fellow Dutch pioneers, pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Willem Breuker, he founded the musicians collective Instant Composers Pool in 1967. Bennink anchored various bands led by Mengelberg or Breuker, and appeared in their comic music-theater productions.
Bennink attended art school in the 1960s, and is also a successful visual artist in several media, often constructing sculpture from found objects, which may include broken drum heads and sticks. He has designed the covers for many LPs and CDs on which he appears. Bennink is represented by Amsterdam's Galerie Espace, and has been the subject of several one-man shows, including one at the Gemeente Museum in the Hague in 1995... [more]
Steve Noble is London's leading drummer, a fearless and constantly inventive improviser whose super-precise, ultra-propulsive and hyper-detailed playing has galvanized encounters with Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Stephen O'Malley, Joe McPhee, Alex Ward, Rhodri Davies and many, many more.
In the early eighties, Noble played with the Nigerian master drummer Elkan Ogunde, Rip Rig and Panic, Brion Gysin and the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, before going on to work with the pianist Alex Maguire and with Derek Bailey (including Company Weeks 1987, 89 and 90). He was featured in the Bailey's excellent TV series on Improvisation for Channel 4 based on his book ‘Improvisation; its nature and practise’. He has toured and performed throughout Europe, Africa and America and currently leads the groups N.E.W (with John Edwards and Alex Ward) and DECOY (with John Edwards and Alexander Hawkins).
Alexander Hawkins’ work ranges from his acclaimed solo performances (‘intensely intricate…powerful, technically brilliant and melodically inventive’) through to works on a much larger canvas, such as his Togetherness Music ('[a] masterpiece that can stand next to the best works of Mitchell, Braxton or Parker’). He collaborates regularly with all generations of creative musicians, including the likes of Anthony Braxton, Marshall Allen, Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, Hamid Drake, Nicole Mitchell, Tomeka Reid, Sofia Jernberg, Shabaka Hutchings, and many others. Further creative associations, with two very different icons of African music, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Mulatu Astatke, stretch back for well over a decade. He has been widely commissioned as a composer, including by the likes of the BBC, Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal, and numerous festivals. His performance schedule takes him to club, concert hall, and festival stages worldwide.
"Sounds like all the future jazz you might imagine without ever being able to conceive of the details" – The Guardian