Han Bennink / Jaak Sooäär / Liudas Mockūnas (The Netherlands /
Estonia / Lithuania):
H.Bennink was born in 1942 in Zandam, near Amsterdam, in professional drummer's family, and he grew surrounded with percussion. His first music instrument was kitchen stool, and though his father soon provided him with a normal set of drums, H.Bennink still hasn't loose his turn for non-conventional sounds, produced and derived from unusual objects, usually found straight on the backstage of concert halls. H.Bennink plays anything he grabs, e.g. pica carton, normal peace of wood or a piece of string, even the wall or floor of the stage, and still hasn't lost his predilection for playing stools.
Having begun his professional career in dance ensemble led by his father, still in his teenage years Han became interested in jazz music, when in 1960, having played on board of Dutch-American ship he spent some time in New York, where he was able to listen to such jazz grands as O.Coleman, J.Coltrane, A.Franklin, S.Clark, and S.Lacy.
In the beginning of the sixties, H.Bennink began his international career. He was acknowledged as extremely flexible drummer, able to play anything from Dixieland to free. As an excellent swing performer, the drummer accompanied such American jazz stars touring in Holland as B.Webster, D.Gordon, K.Drew, S.Rollins, W.Montgomery, and J.Griffin. In 1964 he participated when recording E.Dolphy's album Last Date, and in 1969 when recording D.Gordon's album Live at Amsterdam Paradiso.
At the same time H.Bennink was in the very centre of European free music revolution. He participated in creation of the new European improvisation music and is one of the pioneers of this trend in Europe. He has been in long-term professional relations with the pianist Misha Mengelberg. H.Bennink says that he has worked with the musician for 42 years, i.e. "for longer than Duke Ellington with Harry Carney". In 1963 together with M.Mengelberg H.Bennink established the quartet that in 1966 participated in Newport Jazz Festival. In mid-sixties he began to play free jazz with M.Mengelberg and W.Breuker. In 1967 together with these guys he established Instant Composer's Pool (ICP) - non-profit institution of Dutch jazz avant-garde, and later - a record company ICP Records. At this period H.Bennink established long-term professional relations with J.Tchicai, P.Brötzmann, A.Schlippenbach, D.Bailey, F.van Hove, and the trumpeter Don Cherry as well as the Globe Unity Orchestra. For a long period H.Bennink played together in the trio with P.Brötzmann and F.van Hove, where he played not only drums, but also clarinet, trombone, soprano saxophone and other instruments. In 1971 as a multi-instrumentalist H.Bennink began the series of his solo album records.
From the late eighties H.Bennink together with saxophonist M.Moore and cellist E.Reijseger plays in the very successful Clusone Trio. During the recent period he has performed with the saxophonist's T.Deliu's quartet plays in trio with C.Fuhler and W.de Joode; collaborates with various different jazz musicians.
During his career that lasted over 4 decades, H.Bennink gave a number of spontaneous concerts with the musicians of various nationalities and trends, including Irene Schweizer, Myra Melford, Eugene Chadbourne, Derek Bailey, Dave Douglas, Harry Miller, Evan Parker, Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, George Lewis, etc.
H.Bennink is a very flexible drummer. He is excellent at swing tradition, performs with free jazz musicians, punk band The Ex, and Clusone Trio. He is very good at free jazz and is distinguished by his unusual technique, special feeling for ensemble, strong pulse and distinctive swing. The musician is famous not only as a distinctive drummer - he has a degree in arts and is significant in visual arts. In his objects he usually uses the bodies of broken drumsticks. He was the author of a number of his album covers. H.Bennink is an extremely artistic, even theatrical character with his peculiar sense of humour. It is not enough to listen to the show-performances of H.Bennink, who every time newly gives meaning to himself in his oeuvre - it is necessary to see him.
For already 4 decades the distinctive aspect of H.Bennink's creative activities is his spontaneous concerts with the musicians from various countries and of different styles. In Vilnius Jazz Festival H.Bennink appears with the most significant Lithuanian and Estonian jazz musicians of young generation.
In 2003 together with H.Bennink and the Finnish saxophonist M.Innanen J.Sooäär gave concerts in Estonia and Finland, performed in NYYD Festival with festival ensemble and Gavin Bryars.
J.Sooäär is a versatile musician, who plays together with both classic, rock, pop and folk music performers. Last year he was granted the Estonian Music Award as the best Folk/Etno performer of the year. Besides concerts and performances, J.Sooäär is involved in pedagogic activities: he teaches guitar and improvisation in Tallinn Academy of Music and he also composes and arranges.
The creative interests of L.Mockūnas are focused on improvisation music and experimental jazz stage. He regularly performs with international groups: Baltic Trio, Idiot quartet, Revolver trio; L.Mockūnas has long-term professional relations with the Danish drummer S.Pasborg. Their albums, released during the recent years, were very well received by critics. L.Mockūnas has performed together with M.Ducret, T.Berne, P.Dørge, T.Rayne, M.Innanen, etc; in European Orchestra project he participated with World Saxophone Quartet; the musician is always invited to play with CAE, Ok Nok Kongo. Last year L.Mockūnas performed with the legendary US pianist Andrew Hill Nonete, who was awarded the 2003 JAZZPAR prize.
© Jūratė Kučinskaitė