Meet Drummer Jimmy Bennington
JB: I learned professionalism, first and foremost. Be on time, treat and compensate your band well, dress appropriately for any performance, show respect for the artform. Deal with the music and the moment sincerely, use all your knowledge to pursue truth, and don't be afraid to take risks for the sake of the music. At 70 plus, night after night, Elvin continued to surprise, astound, and amaze! After being around him for awhile, the question of "how became non-existent. Aside from the great musical language he created and the great musical devices he employed, I learned from Elvin to always be true to yourself and to this art form. Keiko was resolute in how she felt Elvin's music should sound, how it should be presented, it's value, and how it would be seen by history. To be around these two was to be shown in black and white how to do it.
AAJ: You have two CDs out, Contemplation and Midnight Choir. Can you talk about some of the similarities and differences between them?
JB: The two recordings you mentioned come from almost the same period; they're a year or two apart. As you know, a lot can happen in a year and that I think is the difference between the two. The similarities are myself and the other band members staying on track and approaching the music in the same fashion. "Contemplation came about when my friend and saxophonist Seth Paynter told me he was moving to Korea. I felt the need to document what we'd been doing. The other group with Andre Hayward and Ralph Gill happened when we met during this period. Andre was with Betty Carter at the time and is now a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. The bassist, Danny Zanker, originally from England, had left Houston for New York and was in town for a few days. Contemplation is a little more straight forward, but it shares similarities with Midnight Choir in that it has some tunes and some originals. Andre and Ralph introduced me to Grachan Moncur III's The Coaster and Seth and I probably played "Equinox a hundred times. Both were very exciting to do and reflect where we were all at as far as our approach to this music. When I hear them today, I'm very proud of the music and feeling we created.