All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

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.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Kyle Nasser at The Red Room, Cafe 939 Live Reviews
Kyle Nasser at The Red Room, Cafe 939
by Doug Hall
Published: October 20, 2018
Read International Jazz Festival Musica Sulle Bocche 2018 Live Reviews
International Jazz Festival Musica Sulle Bocche 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: October 19, 2018
Read Hong Kong International Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Hong Kong International Jazz Festival 2018
by Rob Garratt
Published: October 18, 2018
Read Bobby Zankel's Warriors Play Muhal Richard Abrams at October Revolution Live Reviews
Bobby Zankel's Warriors Play Muhal Richard Abrams at...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 16, 2018
Read Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio at October Revolution Festival Live Reviews
Dave Burrell Full-Blown Trio at October Revolution Festival
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 14, 2018
Read Not Two...But Twenty! Festival Live Reviews
Not Two...But Twenty! Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: October 13, 2018
Read "Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms
by Martin Longley
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "BAN BAM: Music Talking" Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "Boston Roundup: Larry Carlton, Brit Floyd, and Doyle Bramhall" Live Reviews Boston Roundup: Larry Carlton, Brit Floyd, and Doyle...
by Dave Dorkin
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017" Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017