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Han Bennink Trio: Han Bennink & Co.

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On this live album recorded last year in Belgium, the great Dutch drummer Han Bennink limits himself to a borrowed snare and a pair of young collaborators: Belgian reed player Joachim Badenhorst and Danish pianist Simon Toldam. But there’s so much sound and motion and sheer incident on this disc, the trio’s second, that it sometimes seems like Bennink is leading a roomful of players, from behind a battery of snares.

In nearly seven minutes, the improvised opener, “Klein Gebrek Geen Bezwaar,” ranges from jaunty swinger, featuring Badenhorst’s classically toned clarinet, to stormy, ostinato-style minimalistic experiment, to a kind of postbop cubism with movable parts, to Eastern-tinged melody. A rising star, Badenhorst switches to tenor saxophone on a lighthearted deconstruction of “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland” and bass clarinet on the cheery original “Ganz.”

Throughout, the trio projects a cerebral intensity to go with its go-for-broke improvising, drawing percussive as well as harmonic strength from Toldam. And then there’s Bennink. As befits one of the supreme stylists of jazz drumming, he’s up front in the sound mix where we can’t miss a single shimmying stroke. If this is, in fact, the only band he’s ever led under his name, he picked a good one for that breakthrough. No mere side project, this trio is going places.

Originally Published