130

Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink in Berlin

Alexander J. Beissenhirtz By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink, two father figures of Dutch jazz and free improvisation, appeared for a duo concert at Festsaal Kreuzberg in Berlin, Germany on April 23, 2006.

Both have played together in different contexts for decades, most famously with the Instant Composers Pool (ICP) Orchestra, a large ensemble of Dutch improvisers they co-founded with clarinetist Willem Breuker in 1967, which recently toured Europe and the United States this March and April.

Their duo set in Berlin was the opening act for The Ex, a group of Dutch avant-garde punk rockers. Thus, the audience was a mixture of free jazz aficionados and fans of The Ex (Bennink recorded a 2001 duo album on Atavistic Records with The Ex's guitarist, Luc Ex, entitled The Laughing Owl).Bennink's fierce and aggressive, yet highly virtuosic and humorous drumming made the set brilliant at times, seeming closer to punk rock than to jazz or more traditional projects like Jazz at Lincoln Center.

However, the duo never lost contact with the jazz tradition. Mengelberg's introspective, laid-back, but highly intense piano style is full of allusions to multiple jazz giants, from Monk, Powell, and Herbie Nichols to Lennie Tristano and Cecil Taylor.

The two famous Dutchmen added the usual theatricality to their performance. More than once, Bennink left his drum kit to play on the stage floor or hit his cymbals with his chair, while Mengelberg stoically improvised Powell-like single-note lines or hymn-like chords, in contrast to Bennink's thunder. What is most stunning about those two giants of European jazz is that, despite all the clowning and eccentricities, it all makes perfect musical sense and swings intensely without ever sounding old-fashioned.

Mengelberg and Bennink's duo revealed not only how vital and entertaining contemporary jazz improvisation can sound, but also that it appeals to an audience as diverse as the one at Berlin Kreuzberg, whose ovations were rewarded with two encores.


Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Hyde Park Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Redwood City Salsa Festival 2016" Live Reviews Redwood City Salsa Festival 2016
by Walter Atkins
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Enjoy Jazz 2016" Live Reviews Enjoy Jazz 2016
by John Kelman
Published: November 7, 2016
Read "Kurt Elling at Bing Concert Hall" Live Reviews Kurt Elling at Bing Concert Hall
by Lily O'Brien
Published: March 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!