Days 1-3 | Days 4-6 | Days 7-10 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada June 25thJuly 4th 2010
Here come the Dutch! From South Africa to Vancouver, Holland is at the forefront of everyone's mindsand ears. The customary early afternoon set at Performance Works on Granville Island today featured perhaps the best known and arguably most celebrated Dutch jazzman ever (next to pianist and fellow ICP Orchestra co- founder Misha Mengelberg)Han Bennink. At 68, the veteran drummer/percussionist/wildman, was scheduled to be heard in various contexts of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival (VIJF) throughout the next few days, proving he indeed is somewhat a celebrity in these parts, too, certainly a Vancouver favorite as he's a frequent visitor to the city and VIJF's past. The Vancouverite-Dutch double date featured Bennink and bassist/countryman Wilbert de Joode, both flanked on either side by Vancouver musicians in clarinetist Francois Houle and guitarist/oudist Gordon Grdina.
It's always musically and otherwise entertaining when Bennink takes to the stage. The drummer broke out his anticipated bag of tricksrapid rolls on his muffled, toweled snare; drum stick in mouth as if it were a jew's harp; the occasional stick throw and catch without missing a beat; cross-handed syncopation and leg up on drum adding a spur of the moment tighter and higher tuning to his kit, again without losing an ounce of musicality. Around the midway point of the set's third of four group improvisations, there was even a moment when he got up from his kit and slid a randomly placed piano stool from a side of the stage towards his kit, adding a percussive though ear-jarring foundation to Houle's mouthpiece-less clarinet flute- simulating solo. When the Dutchman arrived back at his drum stool, he gazed into the audience and the backs of his fellow musicians with an innocent childish grin, held up a hammer as if to say, "What?! I didn't do anything," and received subsequent hysterical chuckles from the crowd. His bandmates, not quite sure what "hit" them and the reason for the laughs and applause, continued. Grdina in particular, played and interacted with an inspiring abandon throughout the set that went missing the night previous at Iron Works, his strength perhaps lying with the lack of musical road maps.
Trio headlined The Centre's well attended concert hall (with violinist Eivand Kang and drummer Rudy Royston) playing primarily typical and original Frisell-ian Americana works such as the suitably titled and dedicated "Winslow Homer," in addition to the mesmerizing Malian-influenced "Baba Drame" and several jazz standards including Lee Konitz' "Subconscious Lee," "Goin' Out of My Head" and a rhythmic showcase for Royston, Benny Goodman's "Benny's Bugle" (the latter two selections both encores). The guitarist was undoubtedly the primary voice of the threesome with some exceptional moments, the other two in consistent support throughout. Even though the set consisted of 10-15 minute performances of each tune, not so common was a violin or drum solo. One of the attractive facets of Frisell's music is its inherent aesthetic and subtlety even when he rocks out, so an unfortunate slight of the soundman's hand mid-set was hard not to notice with regards to the unexpected and sudden boost of volume. Other than this sudden spike to near rock concert levelsthe VIJF must be commended on the excellent sound mix of all their spaces for the most part, from the large venues to the smaller ones..