from Earshot Jazz:

Wednesday, January 29, 7pm
The Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave South

In a performance sure to kick the new year way further up the track, two renowned improvisers and jazz pioneers on the Amsterdam scene – drummer and percussionist Han Bennink and violist/violinist Mary Oliver – perform alongside Seattle alto saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman and keyboard ace Wayne Horvitz.

Bennink is one of the great figures of European jazz. With pianist Misha Mengelberg, co-leader of the stellar ICP Orchestra (the letters stand for Instant Composers Pool), Bennink has set the direction of a thriving variant of jazz that has in turn influenced many American players. He typifies the Dutch new-jazz approach: while deeply, deeply grounded in American jazz traditions, it also employs a torrent of other influences along with a torrid, tireless, often antic approach.

Now a decade-long member of the ICP, American violinist and violist Mary Oliver has achieved the distinction of earning respect on the Dutch scene, on which women have rarely been well represented. Oliver, La Jolla born and raised, a leading figure on the Dutch scene, has appeared with a wide range of free improvisers, avant-gardists, and New Music exponents. She holds a doctoral degree in Theory and Practice of Improvisation – that, thanks to studying at UC San Diego, whose music department had been much influenced by trombone innovator George Lewis.

She has performed not only at the highest levels of jazz and improvised music, but also as an interpreter of new works by the likes of Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, and Brian Ferneyhough. Her range of virtuosity has often been remarked – few violinists have been able to stretch from the rigorous formal training and performance required for music by Xenakis, and co., to collaborations with some of the world’s most unpredictable and expansive improvisers and jazz innovators – the likes of George Lewis, Phil Minton, John Zorn, and a host of others.

Joining Oliver and Bennink in this performance at the spacious, listener-friendly Columbia City venue – it has good grub, too – are two Seattle-based multi-genre players, keyboard wiz Wayne Horvitz and young alto saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman.

For many audience members, Bennink is always the show. At times comic, at times seemingly possessed, he is foremost one of the great modern jazz drummers. Born near Amsterdam in 1942, the son of an orchestra percussionist, he learned early the usefulness to percussion performance of any and every object and surface – chairs and floors are among his favorite examples.

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