Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Bendian, Gregg, drummer, percussionist, composer; b. Englewood, New Jersey, 13 July 1963. His parents, Martin (b. November 17, 1938, Jersey City, NJ) and Patricia (b. December 29, 1940, Jersey City, NJ), were great music lovers and he was exposed to a wide range of music very early on in life. Neither of his parents were musicians, nor were his three siblings, Seth (b. Feb. 1 1965), Marc (b. Aug. 6 1968) and Meredith (b. Aug. 8 1970).
Initially in Fairview NJ, in 1971, the Bendian family moved to Teaneck and this had a major influence on Gregg's artistic development. Teaneck had an excellent school system and one of the finest arts programs in the country. For the first time he was directly exposed to various forms of Black culture. He heard jazz, funk and R&B jazz music at many of his friend's homes.
Gregg began rudimental drum studies at the age of 8 with Wells Jenny and played in the school orchestra. During junior high school, he began piano and theory studies, and began writing his own music. Gregg played drums in rock and jazz bands with friends, learning covers of popular songs and starting to perform original material.
Throughout the 1970's Gregg became obsessed with the music of the progressive rock and jazz/rock fusion era. He soon turned to modern classical music and immersed himself in composing chamber music during his high school years, studying classical percussion under Gary Van Dyke of the New Jersey.
He was in the Percussion Ensemble and studied composition with Jeffrey Kreske of William Paterson University (both 1978-81). Gregg also studied drumset with Andrew Cyrille and Steve McCall at their Greenwich Village studios during his 1980-81 senior year of high school and attended many concerts of the new jazz artists such as Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Jack DeJohnette, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Ed Blackwell, Charlie Haden, Julius Hemphill, Ornette Coleman and Anthony Braxton at the Public Theater and at Soundscape.
He attended Rutgers University from 1981 and studied composition with the late Noel DaCosta. DaCosta's interest in joining classical music with jazz and world musics had a profound effect on Gregg. Gregg left Rutgers in 1983 (but continued to study with DaCosta through 86) to immerse himself in the New York Downtown scene. It was during this time that he first played with as Derek Bailey, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Ned Rothenberg, William Parker, Mark Dresser, Tom Cora and many more. He formed The Gregg Bendian Project and first began presenting concerts of his own music in New York in January of 1984.
Shortly after playing with Derek Bailey, Gregg was asked by Bailey to join his improvising collective, Company, along with Leo Smith, George Lewis, Robert Dick, Lol Coxhill, Gavin Bryars, Roscoe Mitchell, Peter Kovald and Peter Brotzmann.
Soon after, Cecil Taylor heard a tape of Bendian and Bailey's duo improvisations and when Tony Oxley was unavailable for a Boston performance, Taylor asked Bendian to fill in. He played with Cecil Taylor's Feel Trio for most of 1989. During this period of intense activity the trio toured widely and recorded an album.
Bendian currently leads the ensembles INTERZONE (whose "Requiem for Jack Kirby" was a "Best Album Cover of the Year" in JazzTimes magazine), TRIO PIANISSIMO, THE MAHAVISHNU PROJECT (performing John McLaughlin's compositions from the 1970s), and is co-founder of THE OPEN ASPECTS ENSEMBLE. He appeared as timpani soloist with Ornette Coleman's Harmelodic Chamber Players. He is a clinician for Paiste cymbals, Drum Workshop Drums, Attack heads and Musser tuned percussion and teaches privately.
He is married to Silvia Acost-Bendian (b. 1960) and they have one child, Olias Raul Bendian (b. 2002).
"One Million (for Max Roach)" (1996); Bone Structure (2001); Just Drums (2002); The Mahavishnu Project: Live Bootleg; Gregg Bendian's Interzone: Requiem For Jack Kirby, Myriad, Gregg Bendian's Interzone; Gregg Bendian/Nels Cline: Interstellar Space Revisited; Metheny/Bendian/Bailey/Wertico: The Sign Of 4; Gregg Bendian/Derek Bailey: Banter; Gregg Bendian/Paul Wertico: Bang!; Gregg Bendian's Trio Pianissimo: Balance; Gregg Bendian/Alex Cline: Espiritu; Gregg Bendian Project: Gregg Bendian Project, Counterparts; Gregg Bendian: Definite Pitch; Paul Plimley/Gregg Bendian/Lisle Ellis: Noir; Peter Brotzmann/Gregg Bendian/William Parker: Sacred Scrape
Zoot Horn Rollo: We Saw A Bozo Under The Sea; Steve Hunt: From Your Heart & Your Soul; Cecil Taylor: In Florescence (1990); Steve Swell: Particle Data Group; G.E. Stinson: Vapor; Anne LeBaron Quintet: Phantom Orchestra; William Parker: Sunrise In The Tone World, Flowers Grow In My Room; Chris Cauley: Finland; Splatter/Debris & Friends: Jump Or Die (Music of Braxton); Phillipe Micol: New York Interviews; Gary Lucas: Bad Boys Of The Artic
With Ornette Coleman at Harmolodic studio; With Cecil Taylor live (1989)
"Bone Structure, Live at The Knitting Factory"
Gregg Bendian, drumset/G.E. Stinson, guitar/Jeff Gauthier, violin/Steuart Liebig, bass
BET JAZZ (broadcast throughout 2001-2002)
"Gregg Bendian/Nels Cline, Interstellar Space Revisited": four performances filmed in 1998, 2000 and 2001; "The Mahavishnu Project": 10 performances from 2000-2002; "Gregg Bendian/Creative Arts Orchestra": two from 1996; "Gregg Bendian's Trio Pianissimo": one from 1995 and one from 1999; "Gregg Bendian's Interzone": four from, 1998 (two of these with Peter Erskine), one from 2001; "Gregg Bendian Ensemble": Performance Roulette, NYC (2/24/84); "Gregg Bendian's Interzone": Performance (3/29/98); "Gregg Bendian's B3 Trio": Performance (3/27/98); "FreeGrass": three from 1998, one with Tony Trischka; "Gregg Bendian": 5 solo performances from 90-95; "Brotzmann/Bendian/Parker": three from 1993-4; "Gregg Bendian Project": four from 1986-7
"Gregg Bendian: It's Clobberin' Time" by Edwin Pouncy. The Wire, 2001
"Gregg Bendian On Jack Kirby" by Chris Porter. JazzTimes, November 2001
Interstellar Intersections by Howard Mandel. Jazziz, February 2001
"Interstellar Overdrive" by Howard Mandel. The Wire, March 2000
"Visionario Delle Percussioni" by Libero Farne. Musica Jazz, March 1999
"Masters Of The Free Universe" by Bill Milkowski. Modern Drummer, December 1992
"Fanning The Flames: The Mahavishnu Project". Jazziz, December 2002
"Gregg Bendian: Music Without Borders" by Michael Bettine. Avant Magazine, Autumn 1998
"Gregg Bendian" by Matt Peiken. Modern Drummer, August 1998
"Gregg Bendian" by Bill Milkowski. JazzTimes, November, 1999
Percussion Profiles: Interviews, Articles & Discographies of 25 of the world's most innovative percussionists. By Michael Bettine & Trevor Taylor, Soundworld Publishers (2001)
The Indeterminate Violin: Gregg Bendian's Alloy
By Cornelius Dufallo, The Juilliard School (May 2002)