Born: May 22, 1970 Primary Instrument: Drums
James Bennington was born in Columbus, Ohio, May 22, 1970. He was raised in Detroit, Michigan until age nine when his family moved to Houston, Texas. It was there that he began music studies on clarinet, playing the instrument for three years. He switched to drums at the age of fourteen. Though largely self-taught, his education has come from concert and marching bands in Middle and High School, brief formal instruction, countless Jazz and Blues sessions, and work as a sideman and leader. Getting his start in Texas afforded Bennington the chance to play with local veterans such as Blues guitar greats Kinney Abair and Little Joe Washington, saxophonist Terrance Tony, guitarist Susan Alcorn, trumpeter Tex Allen, and renowned vocalist Horace Grigsby. In addition to drummer G.T. Hogan and bassist Lawrence Evans, longtime Billy Harper drummer Malcolm Pinson became a friend and mentor, eventually using Bennington as a substitute when he was away.
Other artists Bennington has been privileged to meet and learn from include multi-reedist Chuck Carter, saxophonist Bert Wilson, pianist Eric Lewis, drummers Roy Haynes, Ron Enyard, James Zitro, Billy Mintz, John Spencer, and the legendary Elvin Jones. In fact, after several years of informal study with the former Coltrane drummer, Jimmy served as band manager and drum tech from 2000-2002 for the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine touring the U.S. and Europe.
A distinctive sound has forged opportunities for him to play and record with a diverse array of artists from the Jazz and Improvised Music communities and beyond, and include clarinetist Perry Robinson, trombonists Julian Priester, Andre Hayward, and Michael Vlatkovich, saxophonists Bert Wilson, John Gross, Seth Paynter, and Didier Haboyan, trumpeters Itaru Oki, Jim Knodle, Farnell Newton, pianists Gordon Lee, Art Resnik, David Haney, and Jobic LeMassan, guitarists John Stowell, Tom McNalley, and Bill Horist, violinist Tom Swafford, and bassists Ed Schuller, Michael Bisio, Benjamin Duboc and Jim Ryan, kalimba.
Based in Chicago, after long periods in Texas (1990-1998) and the West Coast (1998-2006), Bennington appears at a number of venues as a sideman or band leader with his group, Colour and Sound and performs in the U.S. with regular visits to Canada, Europe, and South America. In addition to standard musical settings, Jimmy makes it a point to play at public schools, community centers, festivals, and hospitals as part of a longstanding relationship with the Children's Cancer Association. Live radio broadcasts include appearances on KBOO, KTRU, KHMD, KEXP, WNUR, and WZRD, as well as an appearance on Chicago's WGN Television.
Chicago artists Jimmy has worked with include veteran multi-reedist Rich Corpolongo, saxophonists Fred Jackson, Jeff Marx, and Ed House (AACM), trombonist Jeb Bishop, cornettist Josh Berman, pianists Jim Baker and Ben Boye, vibraphonist Jim Cooper, cellist Tomeka Reid, guitarists Dave Miller, Bill MacKay, Jason Steele, Mr. G and the Mystery Band, Doug Blake, and bassists Brian Sandstrom, Michael Staron, Anton Hatwich, Rollo Radford of Sun Ra Arkestra fame and violinist Renee Baker.
Visits to Paris in September of 2007 and 2008 provided two career highlights; the opportunity for Bennington to sit in with trumpet legend Ted Curson and pianist Alain Jean Marie at the Sunset Jazz Club in 2007, and Jimmy's Paris debut at the Paris underground club L' Attier Tampon- Ramier on Sept. 21, 2008 with veteran guests: bassist Benjamin Duboc, trumpet/ flutes Itaru Oki, and alto saxophonist Didier Haboyan. During his time in Paris, he was a session guest on the famed Rue des Lombards' Duc des Lombards, Le Baser Sale, the Sunset, and au Croissant in Montmartre. A recording session with Bennington, Benjamin Duboc and pianist Jobic Le Massan, 'Walk to Montreuil', recorded September 19, 2008 (TBR).
Bennington has performed in Canada as guest artist with the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto as well as with saxophonist Graham Ord and bassist Paul Blaney of the NOW Orchestra in Vancouver. He has also been a regular guest at the Jazz Zone in Lima, Peru.
He has worked with bagpipes, folk and Mariachi musicians, DJ's, poets, tap and interpretive dancers, and has performed with Rob Scheps Salon Des Refuses Big Band as well as with vocalists Stephanie Porter, Joanne Klein, Karen Shivers, and Saalik Ziyad.
Embracing a broad spectrum of the Jazz art form, ranging from the Great American Songbook to New Music, Jimmy Bennington and has developed an inimitable musical atmosphere that showcases his collaborators creative talents and places the drum in the role of timekeeper, colorist, and conductor. In keeping with the traditions of Jazz and Improvised Music, he employs strong elements of Blues and Folk music to explore, propel, cajole, and inspire musicians and audiences alike. For nearly twenty years his intent remains one of truth and honesty of expression.
Mr. Bennington is an experienced private instructor, as well as a freelance writer who has been published in Modern Drummer Magazine, Jazz Profile, and Cadence Jazz and Blues Review.
Awards:Portraits and Silhouettes- Honorable Mention- All About Jazz Best Recordings of 2007
Jazz music that treats the drum as an instrument equal to the piano...experimenting with the below the skin deep beauty music has always had, but which few artists have been daring enough to delve into. --Muses Muse, 2003
Bennington plays with a lot of imagination revealing the influence of Paul Motian, Tony Williams, and Ed Blackwell...very well done...will please fans of abstract modern mainstream. --Cadence, 2004
Tracks: The Mind; Two Fascinations; Street of Loneliness; Equinox; Ganges; Malcolm Pinson!; What Are You Doing For The Rest of Your Life?.
Personnel: Seth Paynter: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones Bruce Melville: Trombone John Benjamin: Piano David Klingensmith: Bass Jimmy Bennington: Drums.
Our Dialogue; Live at the Tugboat
ThatSwan! Records 1003
Tracks: Twelve Bars; Favorite Chairs; Susanna; Fatima Mi Amor; Pretty Prancing Woman; The Gemini; First Dialogue.
Personnel: David Haney: Piano.
Jimmy Bennington: Drums
ThatSwan! Records 1004
Tracks: Mallets (for Walt Dickerson); Jazz Kaleidoscope; Church Bells of Willisau; Softshoe (for Enyard); Colours and Sounds; Susanna; Favorite Chairs; Recurrence.
Personnel: Jimmy Bennington: Drums.
Portraits and Silhouettes
ThatSwan! Records 1005
Tracks: Portraits and Silhouettes; Dust; Return to Saturn; In Waltz Time; Mood Indigo; Blount; Call I; Call II; Re: Sun Ra/ Julian's Oral History.
Personnel: Julian Priester: Trombone/ Vocals
Jimmy Bennington: Drums
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Although primarily self-taught, Bennington played extensively in Concert and Marching Band throughout Middle and High School. In addition to learning from several great Jazz drummers, Bennington was fortunate to study informally with his mentor Elvin Jones over a period of eight years. From 2000-2002 he served as Jones' drum tech touring the U.S. and Europe. Bennington has several years of private instruction experience that also include drum workshops with the Children's Cancer Association, the VSA Arts, the Sound of the Underbrush Improvising Workshop in Seattle, and the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto. Bennington currently teaches privately and in conjunction with Flatts and Sharpe Music Co. (Chicago). Daytime hours preferred. Private lessons $50.00 per hour
An honest approach to drums/rhythms and how they work in music (esp. Jazz/ Improvisation). Usually performed in solo or group settings.
Ludwig classic 14 steel snare
Tama toms 13 and 16
Paiste cymbals 16 20 and 22
Vic Firth 5a Nylon sticks
Regal Tip wire brushes
Symphonic bamboo malletts