photo: Gerhard Kühne
For the price of a case of German beer (nodding to his birthplace) you’ll gain more lasting sustenance from Benny Greb’s Hudson Music DVD, The Language of Drumming. Herein the spirit of Tony Williams looms—you’re halfway round your toms & feel this moment of terror: Am I going to make it? Benny Greb (as per Tony) always completes his phrases. He nails it from the moment he drops his hand to point where he causes the stick to cease resonating. Stylistically, he’s never going to sacrifice, say, a 16th note groove by arbitrarily tossing-off a Pink Floyd “Echoes” triplet fill. Stay with the grid implicit in each groove, Benny suggests. Venture off and blurt out some arbitrary exclamation and, well, you’ve lost it—the pulse and your dignity. Everyone feels it when the drummer glitches.
While Benny Greb is as contemporary as it gets, he’s obviously cast his eyes to drumming traditions. His snare sound is crisp. It speaks just above his toms, which are pitched in always-audible, broad intervals. Meanwhile his cymbals range from dry-as-dust to so wet you’re looking for an umbrella. The guy’s an artist and you’ll see him draw-out graceful motifs that belie the thousands of hours he’s spent tightening his technique.