In honor of his 70th birthday, Han Bennink is celebrating with a world tour. Who is Han Bennink, you ask? Well, Han is an improvisational musician and artist. His primary instrument is the drum set. However, to call him a drummer would be very misleading.
Bennink was born near Amsterdam in 1942. His first percussion instrument was a kitchen chair. Later his father, an orchestra percussionist, supplied him with a more conventional drum set, but Han never lost his taste for coaxing sounds from unlikely objects, according to his biography,
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 such American stars as Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon. He is heard with Dolphy on the 1964 classic “Last Date” (PolyGram).
Bennink participated in the creation of a European improvised music scene, and with fellow Dutch pioneers, pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Willem Breuker, he founded the still-active 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.
Over the years, Bennink has toured tirelessly and appeared on hundreds of recordings with the likes of South African bassist Harry Miller, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonists Roswell Rudd and Ray Anderson, and big-band leaders Sean Bergin and Andy Sheppard.
It is nearly impossible to describe Bennink’s style. However this quote sums it up:
“…few drummers can seem as convincingly unhinged as Mr. Bennink. … is a pillar of the European free-improvising scene, and a touchstone for the rambunctious wing of the contemporary avant-garde.” -New York Times 2006
Bennink is not scheduled to appear in Rochester, NY. However, he played a free concert at The Bop Shop, in Rochester on January 21st, 2009. A blurb on their website, they said this about Hans:
“Bennink’s solo music is something all together unique. He can make music with a snare and a chair or a full kit. He’ll play the floor, the walls, furniture, virtually anything. One never knows what to expect from Bennink. But whatever it is, we think we’re all going to be in for a real treat.”
To learn more about Bennink, please follow the link to his biography on his website. There are also lots of videos on his site and on YouTube.