Han Bennink Trio and Steve Noble
(Vortex, Friday 22nd April 2011, review and drawings by Geoff Winston*)
Han Bennink (above left) and Steve Noble (right) are both drummers who can play it absolutely straight or wheel off at a tangent.
Their sprightly snare drum duet saw Bennink set a hard, metallic tone, using his sticks on the chair and drum body, then his booted foot on his drum. He whistled nonchalantly, brushes in action, while Noble tapped a massive tuning fork resting on his snare. Noble added a small hand held cymbal and a maraca to vary the range, with a short, hard-headed mallet scraped slowly across the drum skin to produce an eerie, wailing sound. Never to be outdone, Bennink put one stick in his mouth, hitting it with the other, and in their short, final piece ended by hitting the piano strings.
For the Trio's single 40 minute set, Bennink sat behind his full kit, brushes setting a good, driving pace, and then fell back to let his his young cohorts map out the ground. There was a feel of the wartime night club as they manipulated and extended the centrepiece of the set, Charles Trenet's 'La Mer' (apparently written on toilet paper on a train by Trenet!).
Pianist Simon Toldam was deliberate and lightly restrained on the Vortex's Steinway which, earlier in the day, had been appreciated for its rich sonority by Roedelius. Joachim Badenhorst was similarly withdrawn on B flat and bass clarinet - which he often played in its higher register - and tenor sax which he pushed into trills and gargles as Toldam brushed light chains on and off the piano strings. Bennink, ever the showman, threw his sticks out of their plastic bag which he promptly absorbed into his repertoire, clattered a structural steel column, sat on the floor to play one of the venue's marble-topped tables and returned to his snare front of stage onto which he hoisted a bentwood chair before the trio ended on a subdued note with clarinet in Giuffre mode and Bennink raising his sticks to his head in antler style!
New arrivals were, not unreasonably, nonplussed when turned away at ten o'clock, on being told it was all over for the evening.
*Drawings copyright Geoffrey Winston 2011. All Rights Reserved