Han Bennink | Corbett vs. Dempsey | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Han Bennink Recommended Free All Ages Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sun., Jan. 25, 2 p.m. 2009

Brilliant Dutch drummer Han Bennink is always game for a new challenge. At 66 he’s just as apt to play with Ethiopian musicians or postpunks like the Ex as he is with free-jazz heavies like Evan Parker or Peter Brötzmann. He’ll solo on a drum kit made from wheels of cheese or tap-dance around the room in wooden clogs, playing on or with anything in arm’s reach. Loud, rude, silly, inexhaustible, and joyful, he embodies the improvisational ethos of jazz—though he can swing with a grace and ferocity few percussionists have ever matched, his spontaneity and playfulness are even more extraordinary. At a show I saw in Berlin, after eccentric Brazilian polymath Hermeto Pascoal abandoned a planned duo with Bennink by walking offstage after three piano chords, the drummer delivered an ad hoc solo set, making light of the strange situation to put the disappointed crowd at ease. Bennink likes to try to bowl his partners over, forcing them to reach outside their comfort zones, and in ’99 he and local tenor great Von Freeman spent most of a Bottle set butting heads. This afternoon he plays a brief solo set with a temporary exhibit of his artwork as a backdrop; he also appears Saturday at the Velvet Lounge and Sunday night at the Hungry Brain. —Peter Margasak

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