Han Bennink

Han Bennink (born 17 April 1942) is a Dutch jazz drummer and percussionist. On occasion his recordings have featured him playing clarinet, violin, banjo and piano.

Han Bennink
Bennink at INNtöne Jazzfestival 2019
Background information
Born (1942-04-17) 17 April 1942
OriginZaandam, the Netherlands
GenresFree jazz
Avant-garde jazz
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, saxophone, clarinet, violin, banjo, piano
Associated actsIrene Schweizer, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy

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

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

Playing career

Through the 1960s he drummed with a number of American musicians visiting the Netherlands, including Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy (he can be heard on Dolphy's recording, Last Date (1964)).

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 had a number of different bassists and which played at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, and in 1967 he was a co-founder of the Instant Composers Pool with Mengelberg and Willem Breuker, which sponsored Dutch avant garde performances. From the late 1960s he played in a trio with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann 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. 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 luminaries including Derek Bailey, Conny Bauer, Don Cherry and Alexander von Schlippenbach, as well as more conventional jazz musicians like Lee Konitz. In 1983 he collaborated with boogie-woogie pianist and vocalist Little Willie Littlefield for his album I'm in the Mood.[2]


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. 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.[3]

Solo albums


As leader
With Gary Bartz, Lee Konitz, Jackie McLean and Charlie Mariano
With Anthony Braxton
With Eric Dolphy
With Paul Ruys
With Willem Breuker
  • 1967: New Acoustic Swing Duo (Instant Composers Pool)
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)
  • 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 Evan Parker
With Don Cherry
With Paul Bley and Annette Peacock
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)
  • 1982: Bennink Mengelberg (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1994: Mix (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1996: The Instant Composers Pool 30 Years (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 1998: MiHa (Instant Composers Pool)
  • 2004: Senne Sing Song (Tzadik)
With Kees Hazevoet
  • 1978: Calling Down The Flevo Spirit (Snipe Records)
With Steve Lacy
  • 1978: Lumps (Instant Composers Pool), including with Michel Waisvisz and Maarten Van Regteren Altena
With Misha Mengelberg
With Dudu Pukwana
With Keshavan Maslak
  • 1980: Humanplexity (Leo Records), including with Misha Mengelberg
With Roswell Rudd
With Pino Minafra
  • 1987: Tropic Of The Mounted Sea Chicken (Splasc(H) Records), including with Michele Lomuto, Misha Mengelberg, and Unknown Artist
With Sean Bergin
  • 1988: Kid's Mysteries (Nimbus West)
With Little Willie Littlefield
With Steve Beresford
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 Cecil Taylor
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 Irene Schweizer
  • 1996: Irène Schweizer & Han Bennink (Intakt Records)
  • 2015: Welcome Back (Intakt Records)
With Myra Melford
With Cor Fuhler and Wilbert De Joode
  • 1998: Bellagram (Geestgronden)
  • 1998: "Zilch" (ConundromCd)
  • 2003: Tinderbox (Data Records)
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 Eugene Chadbourne
  • 2001: 21 Years Later (Train Kept A Rollin') (Leo Records)
  • 2005: Chad And Han (House Of Chadula)
With Michael Moore
  • 2001: White Widow (Ramboy Recordings), including with Alex Maguire and Mark Helias
With Spring Heel Jack
With Simon Nabatov
With Daniele D'Agaro
With Kenny Millions
  • 2003: Bootleg (Hum Ha Records)
With Kenny Millions
  • 2003: Bootleg (Hum Ha Records)
With Kazuo Imai
  • 2003: Across The Desert (Improvised Music From Japan)
With Rik van Iersel
  • 2005: Transparancy-Wolk No. 3 (Rikordings)
With Guus Janssen
With Mikko Innanen and Jaak Sooäär
  • 2006: Spring Odyssey (TUM Records)
With Alessandra Patrucco
With Mark O'Leary
  • 2008: Television (Ayler Records)
With Keshavan Maslak
  • 2008: Bim Huis Live 1st Set (Hum Ha Records)
With Frode Gjerstad
With Will Holshouser and Michael Moore
  • 2011: Live In NYC (Ramboy Recordings)
With Aki Takase
With Armen Nalbandian
  • 2011: Coup de Grace (Blacksmith Brother)
With Eric Boeren
  • 2012: Coconut (De Platenbakkerij), including with Michael Moore and Wilbert de Joode
With Uri Caine
  • 2013: Sonic Boom (816 Music)
With Jaak Sooäär
  • 2013: Beach Party (Barefoot Records)[5]


  1. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/p6096
  2. Olderen, Martin van, I'm In The Mood, Linernotes OLCD 7002, 1993
  3. "Han Bennink". EFI.Group.Shef.ac.uk. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  4. "Four in One – Misha Mengelberg Quartet | Releases". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  5. "Han Bennink". Discography. Discogs.com. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
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