Geoff Winston previews the Vortex appearances of the Han Bennink Trio – with Belgian reeds player Joachim Badenhorst and Danish pianist Simon Toldam – at the Vortex on Friday 22nd April and Saturday 23rd April.
In Bennink’s musical career spanning over 50 years, this trio is the very first which carries the Dutch drummer’s name, and now performs regualrly, which says a lot about his feelings for the way the musical collaboration has taken shape.
The trio came into existence when Bennink met the two other, much younger players in Banff, where he and Misha Mengelberg were teaching on a summer course. He then invited them in November 2008, when he won the European Jazz Award, to perform with him for the first time in Vienna, since when they have released their debut album, Parken (ILK Music), in 2009.
Geoff Winston tracked down Han Bennink in Texas, on tour with the Instant Composers Poll Orchestra in the USA:
LondonJazz: What makes London a different place to play your music compared to, say, Amsterdam and other cities?
Han Bennink: It doesn’t make any difference to me as long as the concert is going well.
LJ How did you meet Simon Toldam and Joachim Badenhorst and decide to invite them to perform with you?
HB I met them in Banff, and they made such an impression on me that I thought if I ever had a chance to put a group together
these are the musicians I’d like to play with. I thought they were really good.
LJ: How will you prepare for the Trio concerts at the Vortex with Simon Toldam and Joachim Badenhorst, and also the two drum duets – with Steve Noble and Terry Day?
HB: No idea, because I improvise. I don’t prepare.
LJ: Is the Trio’s music based on written scores? Are the pieces written by individual members of the Trio or are they collaborative efforts?
HB: Some are, some pieces by Joachim, some by Simon, and improvisations.
LJ: You are a very disciplined and technically meticulous musician. Do you have a practice regime?
HB Oh yes I have a practice regime but I’m not spilling the beans !
LJ Which other instruments do you play apart from percussion, and do they help you in the processes of composition?
HB I messed around on a couple of instruments but I now mainly play snare drum. I used to play on c-soprano saxophone, (I like melody instruments),
the one Evan gave me but it belonged to my brother anyway. But Evan had borrowed it for about 25 years and then he gave it back to me.
LJ : Do you have time to listen to other music, recorded and in performance, and, if so, are there any particular musical threads which interest you at the moment?
HB: When I’m home, yes. These days I listen to a lot of classical music – such as Messiaen, Ligeti, Charles Ives. I love Schubert.
LJ Are there art movements or individual artists that you feel you have a natural affinity with or have had an impact on you?
HB: Sure. Picabia, Man Ray, Kurt Schwitters, Max Beckmann, Cy Twombly, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp…
LJ: What are the constraints that you impose on yourself as a musician and on the musicians you play with?
HB Many, for example playing only a snare drum. And I like to hit the drums either once in an hour – or a million times in a second…
LJ Thank you!
Drawing of Han Bennink copyright Geoffrey Winston 2011. All Rights Reserved