Han Bennink

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Han Bennink
Bennink at INNtöne Jazzfestival 2019
Bennink at INNtöne Jazzfestival 2019
Background information
Born (1942-04-17) 17 April 1942 (age 81)
OriginZaandam, the Netherlands
GenresEuropean free jazz
Avant-garde jazz
Free improvisation
Instrument(s)Drums, percussion
Han Bennink, New York, 2015

Han Bennink (born 17 April 1942) is a Dutch drummer and percussionist.[1] On occasion his recordings have featured him playing soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, trombone, violin, banjo and piano.

Though perhaps best known as one of the pivotal figures in early European free jazz and free improvisation, Bennink has worked in essentially every school of jazz, and is described by critic Chris Kelsey[1] as "one of the unfortunately rare musicians whose abilities and interests span jazz's entire spectrum." Known for often injecting slapstick and absurdist humor into his performances, Bennink has had especially fruitful long-term partnerships with pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. Han is a brother of saxophonist Peter Bennink.

Early life and education[edit]

Bennink was born in Zaandam, the son of a classical percussionist.[1] He played the drums and the clarinet during his teens.

Performing career[edit]

Han Bennink awarded (1967)

Through the 1960s he was the drummer with a number of American musicians visiting the Netherlands, including Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy (he is present on Dolphy's recording, Last Date (1964)).[1]

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 performed at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival.[1] In 1967 he was a co-founder of the Instant Composers Pool with Mengelberg and Willem Breuker, which sponsored Dutch avant garde performances.[1] From the late 1960s, he played in a trio with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann[2] 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/clarinetist Michael Moore and cellist Ernst Reijseger.[1] He has often played duos with Mengelberg and collaborated with him alongside other musicians.

From the late 1980s through the early 2000s, Bennik collaborated closely with Dutch post-punk band The Ex, appearing on their 1995 album Instant and travelling and playing with them on their first tour to Ethiopia.


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 musicians including Derek Bailey, Conny Bauer, Don Cherry and Alexander von Schlippenbach,[1] as well as more conventional jazz musicians such as Lee Konitz.[2] In 1983 he collaborated with boogie-woogie pianist and vocalist Little Willie Littlefield for his album, I'm in the Mood.[3]

Han Bennink in Austin, Texas, April 2006


Bennink's style is wide-ranging, running from conventional jazz drumming to highly unconventional free improvisation, for which he often uses whatever found 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.[1] 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).


The following is a partial list of recordings by Han Bennink.[4]

Solo albums[edit]


As leader

With Ray Anderson and Christy Doran

  • 1994: Azurety (hat ART)
  • 1995: Cheer Up (hat ART)
  • 2011: Who Is In Charge? (Kemo), including with Frank Möbus, Ernst Glerum, and Paul van Kemenade

With Gary Bartz, Lee Konitz, Jackie McLean and Charlie Mariano

With Paul Bley and Annette Peacock

With Anthony Braxton

With Steve Beresford

With Willem Breuker

  • 1967: New Acoustic Swing Duo (Instant Composers Pool)

With Eric Dolphy

  • 1964: Last Date (Limelight Records)
  • 1964: Playing: Epistrophy, June 1, 1964 In Eindhoven, Holland (ICP; includes Misha Mengelberg and Jacques Schols; rehearsal tape for the above concert issued 1975)

With Peter Brötzmann

  • 1968: Machine Gun (FMP)
  • 1969: Nipples (Calig)
  • 1970: Balls (FMP), including with Fred Van Hove
  • 1977: Ein Halber Hund Kann Nicht Pinkeln (FMP)
  • 1977: Schwarzwaldfahrt (FMP)
  • 1979: 3 Points And A Mountain (FMP), including with Misha Mengelberg
  • 1980: Atsugi Concert (Gua Bungue)
  • 2001: Fuck de Boere (Atavistic) recorded in 1968 and 1970
  • 2005: Still Quite Popular After All Those Years (BRÖ Records)
  • 2006: Total Music Meeting 1977 Berlin (BRÖ Records)
  • 2008: In Amherst 2006 (BRÖ Records)

With Eric Boeren

  • 2012: Coconut (De Platenbakkerij), including with Michael Moore and Wilbert de Joode

With Marion Brown

With Sean Bergin

  • 1988: Kid's Mysteries (Nimbus West)

With Uri Caine

  • 2013: Sonic Boom (816 Music)

With Eugene Chadbourne

  • 2001: 21 Years Later (Train Kept A Rollin') (Leo Records)
  • 2005: Chad And Han (House Of Chadula)

With Don Cherry

With Daniele D'Agaro

With Ellery Eskelin

With Terrie Ex (and others)

  • 2000: The Laughing Owl (Terp Records)
  • 2002: Ethiopia Tour 2002 (Not On Label)
  • 2006: Transparancy-Wolk 3 (Terp Records), including with Rik van Iersel, Bart Maris, and P Jacomyn
  • 2007: Zeng! (Terp Records)
  • 2010: Let's Go (Terp Records), including with Brodie West

With Cor Fuhler and Wilbert De Joode

  • 1998: Bellagram (Geestgronden)
  • 1998: "Zilch" (ConundromCd)
  • 2003: Tinderbox (Data Records)

With Frode Gjerstad

With Kees Hazevoet

  • 1978: Calling Down The Flevo Spirit (Snipe Records)

With Will Holshouser and Michael Moore

  • 2011: Live In NYC (Ramboy Recordings)

With Kazuo Imai

  • 2003: Across The Desert (Improvised Music From Japan)

With Mikko Innanen and Jaak Sooäär

  • 2006: Spring Odyssey (TUM Records)

With Instant Composers Pool With Guus Janssen

With Steve Lacy

  • 1978: Lumps (Instant Composers Pool), including with Michel Waisvisz and Maarten Van Regteren Altena

With Little Willie Littlefield

With Keshavan Maslak

  • 1980: Humanplexity (Leo Records), including with Misha Mengelberg
  • 2008: Bim Huis Live 1st Set (Hum Ha Records)

With Myra Melford

With Misha Mengelberg

  • 1971: Instant Composers Pool 010 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1972: Een Mirakelse Tocht Door Het Scharrebroekse no. 1-6 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1974: EinePartieTischtennis (FMP, Instant Composers Pool), live
  • 1975: Coincidents (Stichting ICP Geluidsdragers, Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1978: Midwoud 77 (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1978: Groupcomposing (Instant Composers Pool), including with Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Peter Bennink, Paul Rutherford, and Derek Bailey
  • 1978: Fragments (Instant Composers Pool), including with John Tchicai, and Derek Bailey
  • 1982: Bennink Mengelberg (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1985: Change Of Season (Music Of Herbie Nichols) (Soul Note), including with Steve Lacy, George E. Lewis, and Arjen Gorter
  • 1991: Dutch Masters (Soul Note), with Steve Lacy, George Lewis, Ernst Reyseger, and Han Bennink
  • 1994: Mix (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1996: The Instant Composers Pool 30 Years (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1998: MiHa (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2001: Four in One (Songlines Recordings), with Misha Mengelberg Quartet (Dave Douglas, Brad Jones, Han Bennink)[5]
  • 2004: Senne Sing Song (Tzadik)

With Kenny Millions

  • 2003: Bootleg (Hum Ha Records)

With Pino Minafra

  • 1987: Tropic Of The Mounted Sea Chicken (Splasc(H) Records), including with Misha Mengelberg, Michele Lomuto, and Unknown Artist
  • 1991: Noci...Strani Frutti (Live At Europa Festival Jazz) (Leo Records), including with Ernst Reijseger

With Michael Moore

  • 2001: White Widow (Ramboy Recordings), including with Alex Maguire and Mark Helias

With Simon Nabatov

With Armen Nalbandian

  • 2011: Coup de Grace (Blacksmith Brother)

With Mark O'Leary

With Evan Parker

With Alessandra Patrucco

With Dudu Pukwana

With Roswell Rudd

With Paul Ruys

With Irene Schweizer

With Jaak Sooäär

  • 2013: Beach Party (Barefoot Records)[6]

With Spring Heel Jack

With Aki Takase

With Cecil Taylor

With Rik van Iersel

  • 2005: Transparancy-Wolk No. 3 (Rikordings)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Han Bennink | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 42/3. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  3. ^ Olderen, Martin van, I'm In The Mood, Linernotes OLCD 7002, 1993
  4. ^ "Han Bennink". Efi.group.shef.ac.uk. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Four in One – Misha Mengelberg Quartet | Releases". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Han Bennink". Discography. Discogs.com. Retrieved 30 March 2016.

External links[edit]