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Take Five with Jimmy Bennington

Jimmy Bennington By

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Meet Jimmy Bennington:
Jimmy Bennington was born May 22, 1970 in Columbus, OH. Mentored by late Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones, Bennington celebrates 25 years in the music field in 2015. Jimmy has performed and recorded with many artists including David Haney, Perry Robinson, Julian Priester, Steve Cohn, Ed Schuller, Daniel Carter, Ken Filiano, and Fred Jackson of the AACM. Career highlights include performances in Paris and New York, at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, and at the Chicago Jazz Festival, and inclusion in "Best Recordings of 2014" in Down Beat Magazine. Bennington is a recording artist for Cadence Jazz Records, CIMP Records, CIMPoL Records, OA2 Records, Unseen Rain Records, and his own ThatSwan! label.

Instrument(s):
Drums/Thumb Piano.

Teachers and/or influences?
All the blues and jazz greats. Elvin Jones was very important... Son House... Howlin Wolf... Jimi Hendrix... the drummers Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, Art Blakey... Malcolm Pinson of Billy Harper fame... as well as guys like saxophonist Bert Wilson, and drummers Sunny Murray, Billy Mintz, Ron Enyard. I got to meet many of them in person and found them to be unique and thoughtful artists.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I was five when I got my first drum. I finally got a toy drum set when I was about twelve and have been playing someway, somehow ever since. I saw a jazz drummer play at a mall when I was around fifteen and the mastery of his movements and the different sound of the jazz music the trio was playing knocked me out and forced me to look at music, or what I thought of at that time as music, in a totally different and much more subtle way.

Your sound and approach to music:
I am a Coltrane disciple since the age of 20. That, more than anything, has affected my total approach to jazz and improvisation, blues, all music really... I am constantly developing the sound on my chosen instrument to assist in allowing for the most possible and attainable expression.

Your teaching approach:
Just to share what I have learned... the basics... the nuances, the why and how... the importance of doing things as naturally as possible. I have enjoyed all encounters with students whether they be a young child or a seasoned University student. I am the better for it after each encounter.

Your dream band:
Funnily enough, I am working with my dream band now. In the sense that things have come far along enough that I have had good fortune mixed with opportunity to know and work with people who's music I admire. Of course, I hear the great past Masters and have played along with the records, fantasizing all the while that I am with them... Pee Wee Russell, Coltrane, Walt Dickerson, Calvin Hill, etc., etc. But in reality, I am happy to know and work with some of the best cats around... Fred Jackson of the AACM, Artie Black, legendary bassist Brian Smith, Mike Harmon, Swiss guitarist Sam Mosching, Steve Cohn, Ed Schuller, Daniel Carter, Perry Robinson, Demian Richardson, etc.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
I have had some pretty terrible ones (experiences)... suffered an assault from a jealous bartender a few years ago now... three broken ribs and a concussion... recently though, I am remember being a passenger along with clarinet great Perry Robinson in pianist Steve Cohn's van on the way to the Cadence Jazz Festival being held at the Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn... we had left early from New Jersey and after four solid hours in traffic, thought we were going to miss the gig. Steve drove in such a way that made us afraid for our lives. One of the most hectic car rides I have been in... finally there, we had to set up, and as we were late, we had to play immediately. I had to demand five minutes rest and a can of cold Kirin beer before we took the stage. They had streaming video running the concert around the globe, and a nice audience of connoisseurs... once the first note was played, the stress fell away and we made memorable music... and I got to shake Jimmy Garrison's son Mathew's hand, hang with the great guitarist Dom Minasi, and to reflect then and there on how very hard it was, has been, and is... for all of us... and also to know how, in the end, it's totally worth it.

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