Music Program
 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.

Peter Brötzmann / Han Bennink duo

Peter Brötzmann (born March 6, 1941) is a German free jazz saxophonist and clarinetist.

Brötzmann is among the most important European free jazz musicians. His rough, lyrical timbre is easily recognized on his many recordings. He studied painting in Wuppertal and was involved with the Fluxus movement, but grew dissatisfied with art galleries and exhibitions. He experienced his first real jazz concert when he saw American jazz musician Sidney Bechet while still in school at Wuppertal, and it made a lasting impression.

He has not abandoned his art training, however: Brötzmann has designed most of his own album covers. He first taught himself to play various clarinets, then saxophones; he is also known for playing the tárogató. Among his first musical partnerships was that with double bassist Peter Kowald. For Adolphe Sax, Brötzmann's first recording, was released in 1967 and featured Kowald and drummer Sven-Ake Johansson.

1968, a year of political turmoil in Europe, saw the release of Machine Gun, an octet recording often listed among the most notable free jazz albums. One critic has written Machine Gun offers "a heavy-impact sonic assault so aggressive it still knocks listeners back on their heels decades later." Originally the cassette was self-produced and sold at gigs, but it was later marketed by FMP Records, which stands for Free Music Productions. In 2007, Chicago-based Atavistic Records remastered and reissued the Machine Gun recording.

The more melodic album Nipples was recorded in 1969 with many of the Machine Gun musicians including drummer Han Bennink, pianist Fred Van Hove and tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, plus British free-improv guitarist Derek Bailey. The second set of takes from these sessions, appropriately called More Nipples, is more raucous. Fuck De Boere (Dedicated to Johnny Dyani) is a live album of free sessions from these early years, containing two long improvisations, a 1968 recording of "Machine Gun" live (earlier than the studio version) and a longer jam from 1970. The logistical difficulties of touring with an octet resulted in Brötzmann eventually slimming the group to a trio with Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove. Bennink was also partner in Schwarzwaldfahrt an album of duets recorded outside in the Black Forest in 1977 with Brötzmann's sax and Bennink drumming on trees and other objects found in the woods. Larger groups were put together again later, for example in 1981 Brötzmann made a radio broadcast with Frank Wright and Willem Breuker (saxes), Toshinori Kondo (trumpet), Hannes Bauer and Alan Tomlinson (trombones), Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano), Louis Moholo (drums), Harry Miller (bass). This was released as the album Alarm. In the 1980s, Brötzmann flirted with heavy metal and noise rock, including a stint in Last Exit and subsequent recordings with Last Exit's bass guitarist and producer Bill Laswell.

Brötzmann has remained active, touring and recording regularly. He has released over thirty albums as a bandleader, and has appeared on dozens more. His "Die Like A Dog Quartet" (with Toshinori Kondo, William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake) is loosely inspired by saxophonist Albert Ayler, a prime influence on Brötzmann's music. Since 1997 he has toured and recorded regularly with the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet (initially an Octet).

Brötzmann has also recorded or performed with musicians including Cecil Taylor, Willem van Manen, Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Conny Bauer and Brötzmann's son, Caspar Brötzmann, a notable guitarist in his own right.

Han Bennink (born April 17, 1942) is a Dutch jazz drummer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist.

Bennink was born in Zaandam, the son of a classical percussionist. He played the drums and the clarinet during his teens. Through the 1960s he drummed with a number of American musicians visiting the Netherlands, including Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy (he can be heard on Dolphy's final studio recording, Last Date (1964)).

He subsequently became a central figure in the emerging European free improvisation scene. In 1963 he formed a quartet with pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Piet Noordijk which had a number of different bassists and which played at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, and in 1967 he was a co-founder of the Instant Composers Pool with Mengelberg and Willem Breuker, which sponsored Dutch avant garde performances. From the late 1960s he played in a trio with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove, which became a duo after Van Hove's departure in 1976. Through much of the 1990s he played in Clusone 3 (also known as the Clusone Trio), a trio with saxophonist and clarinetist Michael Moore and cellist Ernst Reijseger. He has often played duos with Mengelberg and collaborated with him alongside other musicians.

As well as playing with these long-standing groups, Bennink has performed and recorded solo (Tempo Comodo (1982) being among his solo recordings) and played with many free improvisation and free jazz luminaries including Derek Bailey, Conny Bauer, Don Cherry and Alexander von Schlippenbach, as well as more conventional jazz musicians like Lee Konitz.

Bennink's style is wide-ranging, running from conventional jazz drumming to highly unconventional free improvisation, for which he often uses whatever objects happen to be onstage (chairs, music stands, instrument cases), his own body (a favourite device involves putting a drumstick in his mouth and striking it with the other stick), and the entire performance space—the floor, doors, and walls. He makes frequent use of birdcalls and whatever else strikes his fancy (one particularly madcap performance in Toronto in the 1990s involved a deafening fire alarm bell placed on the floor). He is also a talented multi-instrumentalist, and on occasion his recordings have featured his playing on clarinet, violin, banjo and piano.


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April, 2008 - 2008