Han Bennink, Fred Anderson, and Brian Smith; David Boykin Expanse | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Han Bennink, Fred Anderson, and Brian Smith; David Boykin Expanse 

When: Sat., Jan. 24, 9:30 p.m. 2009
Price: $20
Brilliant Dutch drummer Han Bennink is always game for a new challenge. At 66 he’s just as apt to play with Ethiopian musicians or postpunks like the Ex as he is with free-jazz heavies like Evan Parker or Peter Brötzmann. He’ll solo on a drum kit made from wheels of cheese or tap-dance around the room in wooden clogs, playing on or with anything in arm’s reach. Loud, rude, silly, inexhaustible, and joyful, he embodies the improvisational ethos of jazz—though he can swing with a grace and ferocity few percussionists have ever matched, his spontaneity and playfulness are even more extraordinary. At a show I saw in Berlin, after eccentric Brazilian polymath Hermeto Pascoal abandoned a planned duo with Bennink by walking offstage after three piano chords, the drummer delivered an ad hoc solo set, making light of the strange situation to put the disappointed crowd at ease. Bennink likes to try to bowl his partners over, forcing them to reach outside their comfort zones, and in ’99 he and local tenor great Von Freeman spent most of a Bottle set butting heads. Tonight he plays in a trio with bassist Brian Smith and another fantastic Chicago tenor man, Fred Anderson, who’s just as forceful and authoritative as Bennink—but even though I can imagine the drummer’s disruptive energy clashing with Anderson’s fluid, steamrolling style, I think this collaboration will work. Both men are stubborn, but they also thrive on the give-and-take of improvisation. The David Boykin Expanse opens; Bennink plays twice more on Sunday, first at Corbett vs. Dempsey and then at the Hungry Brain. —Peter Margasak

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