Han Bennink's virtuosic drumming and irresistible joviality are in high demand. While visiting the UK in 2006, the Dutch percussionist was invited to record with John Coxon (electric guitar) and Ashley Wales (electronics/samples), the duo collectively known as Spring Heel Jack. The result, Amplified Trio, is an austere and effortless improv session. The Blueprint Project, a trio of recent conservatory grads, has also released an album with Bennink as guest. People I Like is more lighthearted, conscious, premeditated.
In Amplified Trio, Bennink brings a jazz sensibility to Coxon and Wales' electronic musings. As Wales' ambient sounds writhe in time with Coxon's guitar, Bennink's drum kit undulates from low to high, soft to loud, slow to fast, crouching to pouncing. "AT 1" is a revelatory assault to the ears with its wailing electronic manipulations, abrasive guitar strokes and ferocious drumbeats. The 20-minute track is so expansive that if it were the only song on the disc, listeners would still be satisfied. The other tracks demonstrate the musicians' scope, skill and imagination. "AT 4" is calmer than the first track but just as insightful. Occasional clangs of the cymbals and burbling guitar notes drift among Wales' abstract vocal samples and chaotic electro-strokes, creating vast silences that evoke a sense of intense introspection and unbridled creativity.
Unlike Amplified Trio, which unleashes its creativity in a flurry of instant compositions, The Blueprint Project channels its creative juices into carefully written tunes. A seemingly more rigid setup, the pre-formed songs put Bennink in his element of inimitable performance art. Reedist Jared Sims, guitarist Eric Hofbauer and pianist Tyson Rogers each composed three new pieces for this CD. People I Like is well-composed, well-performed, well-packagedit is an all-around impeccable jazz record. Tunes like "Herbie Nichols" and "Jac-Mac Talkin'" seem to be written specifically for Bennink. The former features Rogers' sprightly piano, Sims' soulful clarinet and Bennink's swinging lines while the latter showcases Bennink's brush technique. From the playful joie de vivre of "The Holly Stomp" to the eerie meditation of "Chillfreetmeistrodemus," it is clear that the trio was truly inspired by its guest drummer.
Though starkly different, both records demonstrate why Bennink is so sought-after: his ineffable charisma and brilliant drumming heighten all those around him.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: AT 1, AT 2, AT 3, AT 4, AT 5, AT 6, AT 7.
Personnel: Han Bennink: drums; John Coxon: electric guitar; Ashley Wales: electronics/samples.
People I Like
Tracks: The Holly Stomp; Herbie Nichols; The Flu And Dr. B; Captain Salvy Set Sail; Ruby, I Think You're My Third Favorite; Bessie, With Angles; Chillfreetmeistrodemus; Jac-Mac Talkin'; Nu Noon At Yoshi's.
Personnel: Jared Sims: clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Eric Hofbauer: guitar; Tyson Rogers: piano; Han Bennink: drums.