Monday, December 14, 2009

Han Bennink Trio - Parken (ILK Music, 2009)

Drummer and percussionist Han Bennink is best known as a free jazz drummer, but he has played in a great variety of settings and is ready for any situation. This album of witty, thoughtful and exciting improvisation moves from free jazz to melodic versions of Duke Ellington standards without missing a beat. Bennink is joined on this album by Simon Toldman on piano and Joachim Badenhorst on clarinet and bass clarinet. First two pieces, "Music for Camping" and "Flemische March" are freebop performances with great interplay, especially between piano and drums. Subtle brushwork and clarinet follows on the winsome ballad "Lady of the Lavander Mist." "Myckewelk" is a rip-snorting free improvisation filled with gleeful energy. This is followed by an interesting free-ish take on Duke Ellignton's Isfahan, which is miles away from the original version. Breathy clarinet sneaks in halfway through to add commentary on the proceedings, echoing from a distance Johnny Hodges epic solo on the version from The Far East Suite. Bennink keeps the percussion ever shifting on "Reedeater" building dunes of sound an then eroding them back down again, before slowing the tempo down again for a compassionate and concise reading of Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine." "After the March" is a moody abstract improvisation. Sad and mealancholy vocals on "Parken" end the album on a rather blue and somber note. Bennink seems mis-cast as the wildman of new Dutch swing, there's a lot of careful listening and subtle interplay at work here, and the subtle re-working of the Ellington classics bespeaks a great knowledge and passion for the history of jazz. Parken -

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