Han Bennink + Dave Douglas
**** “Makes sense, given their shared love of older jazz values (deep swing, huge timbal palette, doing whatever it takes) as well as free music’s open interactivity. One taste and the ballots are in: Great idea!”
—John Corbett, Pulse
The great and zany Dutch drummer and the versatile, prolific American trumpeter first met on stage at the DuMaurier International Jazz Festival Vancouver in June 1995. They greatly enjoyed the encounter, so this record was made in a Dutch studio one afternoon last January, just before Douglas joined Trio Clusone — Bennink, clarinet/alto saxist Michael Moore, and cellist Ernst Reijseger — as their guest on a European tour. They play three chestnuts, two Douglas originals, and various short and longer improvs including a solo each and two violin/trumpet duets. Here’s Bennink with his explosive, multi-rhythmic chops, constructivist/deconstructionist zeal, and attitude more than a little reminiscent of the Provos (’60s Dutch cultural-political anarchists), and Douglas with his interjections and flurries, his timbral vocabulary of split notes, half-valve squeezed tones and slurs…but also Bennink with his love of traditional jazz (springy brushwork) and Tibetan cymbals, Douglas with his darker moods and Spanish tinge – artists from different backgrounds exploring common ground.
Han Bennink is a drummer, percussionist, and multi-instrumentalist who, while best known for his playing in free(r) jazz contexts, has also backed Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Don Byas, Johnny Griffin, Rollins, Konitz. Both sides of his artistic personality are given full expression in Trio Clusone, which has recordings on Ramboy, hatART and Grammavision (and under another name recorded as early as 1980). Bennink played with Dolphy on his final European visit (and on Last Date), and has worked and/or recorded with Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann, Willem Breuker, Misha Mengelberg, John Tchicai, Marion Brown, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Paul Bley, Don Cherry, Albert Mangelsdorff, Dudu Pukwana, Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy, and Cecil Taylor. He has done solo percussion albums and recorded as a leader for FMP, Incus, ICP and other labels, and his complete discogrpaphy runs to some 140 entries. Recently he has been on hatART in Anthony Braxton’s Charlie Parker Project as well as co-leading a trio with Ray Anderson and Christy Doran. Han is also a visual artist and provided artwork and photography for this release.
Dave Douglas is generally considered one of the most innovative and accomplished jazz artists of his generation and is active in many areas of new music as a composer-performer. He currently leads four bands: the Dave Douglas String Group, with Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, Drew Gress and Michael Sarin (CDs on Soul Note); the Tiny Bell Trio, with Brad Shepik and Jim Black (Songlines and hatART); the Dave Douglas Sextet, with Chris Speed, Josh Roseman, Uri Caine, James Genus and Joey Baron (New World), and an electric octet, Sanctuary (forthcoming CD on Avant). He also co-leads the collective New and Used (CDs on Knitting Factory). Dave began his career touring with Horace Silver and later with Vincent Herring, and continues to tour and record with John Zorn’s Masada, Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz, and Myra Melford’s The Same River Twice, among other groups. He has been heard live or on record with Mark Dresser, Anthony Braxton, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Tim Berne, Nick Didkovsky’s Dr. Nerve, Fred Hersch, Michael Formanek, Ned Rothenberg, Uri Caine, and Steve Beresford.
“…seven fully realized performances whose starkness throws Douglas’ virtuosity into bold relief…On this year’s A-list” — Francis Davis, FI
“It took them no time at all to find common ground on a set of open improvisations and jazz standards…Bennink can be notoriously loud and polyrhythmically busy, but he can also display a surprisingly light touch, keeping time on snare with wire brushes. That gives Douglas all the open space he needs for whispered asides and a ghostly falsetto — as on the Sammy Davis, Jr. oldie ‘Too Close for Comfort.’ Douglas has always had a gift for stretching notes like taffy, wringing out all their expressive potential via shake vibrato and fine adjustments of tone. Indeed, the exquisite detail work is what keeps Bennink playing softly enough to hear every nuance. (Not that they don’t kick out the jams too, on ‘Delft.’) — Kevin Whitehead, emusic.com
“[Bennink’s] a hard-swinging drummer of the old school, after his early hero the pioneering bebop drummer Kenny Clarke. Bennink is also known as an insane but inspired showman who might build a fire in his hi-hat, and then use it to blow smoke signals in one tempo while playing in another. Other musicians can’t let their guard down when they play with Bennink, because he can always make them jump in surprise — rude outbursts are a specialty — and because he can always play louder and faster than everyone else. Trumpeter Dave Douglas has some things Han Bennink is always looking out for: swinging rhythm, and the stamina and self-confidence to spar with a drummer who doesn’t tire out. Douglas is a proper conservatory-trained modernist who’s got several bands to satisfy his different interests, from jazz meets chamber music to jazz meets funk — two things Han Bennink is not interested in by the way. Douglas also has a fat vibrato and juicy tone that reminds older listeners variously of Harry James, Ruby Braff, Billy Butterfield, and other trumpet players Douglas has not studied and does not appreciate being compared to. Still, you can understand how such comparisons get made — as with Bennink he seems a little out of his own time. Dave Douglas’s piece ‘Serpentine’…sounds a bit like a Bix Beiderbecke or Hoagy Carmichael blues line from the 1920s. Bennink and Douglas had only played together a few times when they made this recording in a barn in North Holland last winter. Douglas believes in planning, had some ideas about pieces they might play. He tells me when he suggested a couple Bennink said, Do whatever you like, no problem, I’m quick as a snake. That’s how the CD sounds: fresh, loose, improvised. As for any generational, cultural, philosophical differences: no problem there, either.” — Kevin Whitehead, Fresh Air (NPR)
“Douglas is in his usual top form, but Bennink…shines. Over the 13 compositions, the duo exchange duck calls, shrieks and flutters with Douglas keeping the pace and Bennink pounding skins with all the playful might of Joey Baron.” — Jason Verlinde, epulse