Solo Drum Work i.e. Han Bennink, Susie Ibarra, ect.


Junior Member
I'm a huge fan of avant garde solo drum work like Han Bennink's Nerve Beats and a lot of Susie Ibarra's stuff, and was hoping I could get some recommendations for similar releases from other artists. The last time I was in Amoeba Music is Los Angeles someone dropped the name Tony Oxley but I have yet to check him out. I've heard nothing but good things about him. Does anyone know if he has done any solo percussion work?

Also, any particular songs/youtube videos/whatever with killer avant garde drum soloing in the free form/tribal sort of vein. Stuff like Xenakis' "Rebounds" interests me as well.

Any help would be awesome. :p


Pioneer Member
I'm sure you've listened to Derek Baily and Hamid Drake as well. I know Bailey is a guitar player, but I've heard some very percussive stuff from him in terms of electronic manipulation. Really in my opinion, once you get into avante territory, it becomes less about the instrumentation, and more about the manipulation of space and soundscapes.

Milford Graves is another drummer/percussionist who has some solo stuff out on the John Zorn label. Really one of the only full length solo avante percusion albums I've bought. Most of the Susie Ibarra stuff I have is with duos or trios. One of them is Home Cookin' with Assif Tsahar, which has some great drumming on it.


Senior Member
Billy Martin from Medeski, Martin & Wood has a few solo drum albums out there. You can find 'em on iTunes.


Pioneer Member
Looks like I got here right on time....

Milford was actually a teacher of Susie, as was Dennis Charles who has a few solo things out too. Hamid has not done solo drum albums as far as I know, nor would I think it would be his thing as he's so groove oriented and such a team player.

Oxley is from the UK and is one of the main Avant guys over there, along with Paul Lytton (who also has some solo stuff too, if I recall). Although I myself am not the biggest Oxley fan, I love Lytton.

Le Quan Ninh is very strange but very interesting and has a couple solo drum albums ('Drumlike' and 'Utensils', which is his best, I think)but they're near impossible to find. Gino Robair too, can be odd but has some solo albums, though I haven't heard those ones.

How about 2 guys? Pierre Favre and Fredy Studer have their 'Criss Crossing' album, which is very cool and Favre did 'Singing Drums' in the 70's or 80's (I forget which) on ECM with Paul Motian, Nana Vasconcelos and Fredy as well. I think Fredy did an album with Hamid and Michal Zerang recently too.

Paal Nilssen Love has 2 solo albums ('Sticks and Stones' and '27 years Later')out as well and in my opinion is the current master of Avant Garde drumming, with one exception in the 'drums without other instruments' category....

Arguably the master and certainly an innovator of solo drumming, however is Fritz Hauser from Switzerland. He has put out many solo records, including the landmark 'solodrumming'. Anything by him you can get your hands on is worth it. He's certainly different than the NYC people, less organic, more Bauhaus.

Hope that helps, I'm sure I'm missing someone, or something though.



Junior Member
Thanks for everyone's help. It's great to find out about so many musicians utilizing percussion in this way. :)

The Colonel

Silver Member
I saw the names Bennink and Susie Ibarra and thought "Who is this posting?"

Greggers gave you some great stuff but I can't believe he missed Eddie Prevost! (who in my mind - after seeing him live a bunch and then studying with him a bit, is my "grandmaster" of avant garde) You live in Los Angeles I take it (which gives you no excuse not to come to my performance space downtown now!) so next time you go to Amoeba, look for his amazing solo album Loci of Change: Sound and Sensibility. It's on Eddie's amazing amazing label Matchless Records, and I know they carry a lot of his stuff (especially for all of his group AMM's stuff - which if you don't have, you need to get - AMM is the spark that started most all of Europe's avant garde sensibility)

Hamid doesn't have any solo albums but he has a ton of duos - with tenor/pocket trumpeter Joe McPhee (my man!) "Emancipation Proclamation" which is live, and amazing - and those duos with bassist William Parker "Piercing the Veil" and "Summer Snow"

AH gotta go - more later


Junior Member
I took your advice and started to research AMM...


This is some crazy stuff. I can't believe I'm just now hearing about them. It's cool that Syd Barrett was into them and stuff. I'll have to track down that solo album by Mr. Prevost.

Where is your performance space? I actually live in Orange County and have been helping my friends at K-UCI put on weird noise shows and stuff on campus, but I'm in LA very very frequently going to shows at The Smell, Zero Point (formally The iLL Coral), Echo Curio..all underground noisy stuff. I wish there was more of an avant-garde jazz scene in LA like there is in Oakland. 21 Grand has some amazing stuff going on right now. I dunno maybe there is and I haven't found out about it yet :p

Thanks for the suggestions!


Junior Member
Sorry to double post.

For those familiar with Han Bennink's drumming and are familiar with his solo album "Nerve Beats", I have posted a question thread in the "Drum Technique" section of the forum concerning his playing on this album. I was hoping someone more versed than I in drum theory/playing technique, who also has an ear for identifying what a person is playing and how they are playing it during very dense, technical sections could help me figure out what is going on in his track "Spooky Drums". Any help would be immensely apprectiated. Check it out!

Thanks again.


Don't know if my solo work qualifies as avant garde, but what I'm doing is different.

I've currently got 18 drum solo videos up on My drumset is an invention of mine called an Indigenous Roots Kit, a type of primitive drumset played with my bare hands and a variety of foot pedals.

Most of the solos (such as 'Jingo' or 'Elephant') are beat based and dancible. I keep a foundation rhythm going with the feet, work several variation with the hands, free solo, then back to A and out....

The solo 'Evolution' is more abstract and might qualify as anvant garde, I don't know.

I have researched and listened to all the fellows already mentioned in this thread, there is some fantastic stuff out there. I particularly like the fellow from Wilco, he paints colors with sound. Another guy you should like is Airto, he really breaks free.