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Le Guess Who? 2017 Festival Review: The 11 Best Performances

on November 15, 2017, 5:30pm
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Han Bennink & Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, and Peter Brötzmann


As early as the 1960s, jazz drummer Han Bennink played host to musical legends visiting the Netherlands, playing with everyone from Sonny Rollins to Eric Dolphy. In the ’80s, he started working closely with The Ex, further diversifying his absurd talent with the Dutch rock heroes. That homegrown, eccentric network makes Bennink the perfect curator for Le Guess Who? and led to some of the most fascinating sets of the weekend, chief among them duo performances with Keiji Haino, Thurston Moore, and Peter Brötzmann.

Bennink’s winking, limber drumming has proven a perfect match for Haino’s mercurial performance in the past, and that was no exception here. While the 75-year-old Dutchman quickly propped his leg up onto his snare in between tom hits, the silver-maned Haino smushed a basketball along the strings of his guitar, turning quickly mid-scream to bounce it against an acoustic dangling from the ceiling, attached by a cord at its neck. Moore, meanwhile, hung over his instrument, long hair dangling down as his fingers loped over strings; Bennink hunched over his kit, drumstick lodged between his teeth as he splashed at a cymbal and muted it with his other hand. Last, free jazz legend Brötzmann and Bennink returned to their roots on the former’s watershed Machine Gun, the saxophonist flitting and flopping across an immense range, drums chasing the whole way. The key to all of this, of course, is that Bennink makes each musician with which he plays sound better and, in turn, shines plenty himself. All great improvisational musicians communicate well, but Bennink speaks in so many different languages, chuckling all the while at jokes that connect somewhere in the ether beyond.

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