Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

193

Han Bennink: Nerve Beats

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Throughout his variegated career Han Bennink has carved out a place for himself as one of the crowning clown princes of creative improvised music. When he’s behind a drum kit the general rule of thumb is: anything goes as long as it’s laced with self-effacing humor. Even on early gigs, such as the germinal one he took part in as a sideman with Eric Dolphy ( Last Date on Fontana) his idiosyncratic, and some might argue erratic, style was firmly in place. The sheer magnitude of his imagination and willingness to incorporate all ideas into his art no matter how harebrained or crackpot they might seem upon initial perusal makes the solo setting a perfect vehicle for his work.

Solo recordings by any artist run a high risk of exhausting listener interest and sustaining an album length program of music on one’s own can be a daunting task few musicians are up to both physically and creatively. Add to this the rhythmic nature of the drums and the possibility for a paucity of fresh ideas that avoid repetition can become even more pronounced. Bennink skirts the issue on this outing by incorporating a host of other instruments into his battery of expressive tools. His comparative proficiency on reed and brass instruments may be arguable, but on this solo date he incorporates them in intriguing ways, most effectively on the concluding “Nerve Beats” over repetitious rhythm-machine accompaniment. The disc’s three tracks may worry some listeners wary of paltry running times. But rest assured this is an album length work and the breadth of the pieces provides Bennink plenty of room to stretch out and allow his addled mind to bear succulent improvisatory fruit.

“Bumble Rumble” opens with a tsunami of press rolls, distantly recorded, that beat out a martial cadence punctuated by whistle blasts. The result reads like some cavernously captured fife and drum band bent on steamrolling the audience into submission. “Spooky Drums” is tour-de-force of percussive panoplies as Bennink hews a multifarious edifice of polyrhythms from any and all objects within reach. Later the gurgling brass drone of strangled trombone rises up fluctuating pitch like a didgeridoo. Still further on in the improvisation Bennink takes an unexpected turn on tabla, playing a convincing cycle of beats before picking out a fractured line on an unidentified stringed instrument. His wild vocalized snorts and shouts append many of the subsections of the piece and the audience is audibly uncertain as to when applause are appropriate. It’s all part of Bennink’s plan, keeping his listeners on edge in rapt anticipation of what strange series of sounds he’ll come up with next. There are occasional moments of lesser interest, a short spell where pre-recorded piano filters in while Bennink seems to be changing sticks being one, but these instances are usually transitory. Listening to the all the antics I couldn’t help recall a phrase on the sleeve of a Sunny Murray record on ESP (which eventually became the label’s credo)- ‘You Never Heard Such Sounds In Your Life.’ That emphatic directive applies equally well here as Bennink’s skull is uncapped and the capricious contents of his Bohemian brain are exposed for all to examine.


Track Listing: Bumble Rumble/ Spooky Drums/ Nerve Beats.

Personnel: Han Bennink- drums, tablas, trombone, clarinet, rhythm-machine, anything, everything.

| Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Butterflies Fly in Pairs" CD/LP/Track Review Butterflies Fly in Pairs
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 22, 2016
Read "2016" CD/LP/Track Review 2016
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Shelter" CD/LP/Track Review Shelter
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 15, 2016
Read "Matterhorn" CD/LP/Track Review Matterhorn
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 11, 2016
Read "Hecho En Puerto Rico" CD/LP/Track Review Hecho En Puerto Rico
by James Nadal
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Routes" CD/LP/Track Review Routes
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!