Benny Greb performed at last year’s Meinl Drum Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, and we’d like to share a bit of his appearance with you. To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt from a 2009 Modern Drummer interview with the great drummer and communicator.
MD: Your phrasing is always very precise, even when you’re improvising. How do you maintain that level of focus and control?
Benny: I always fight to keep myself disciplined. I have to be sure that when I get on the set I don’t just doodle around and improvise. I have to practice first. If I start by playing freely, I have so much fun. But when I’m done I just want to go home. There’s a saying that time-management professionals use: “If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it too long. And if you have to eat three frogs, eat the biggest one first.” [laughs]
MD: How do you approach structuring a drum solo?
Benny: I like to have a framework of where I want to start, how I want to end, and different stations that I want to go to in the middle. Sometimes I leave out a station here or there if it doesn’t feel right that day, and I’ll improvise between each section. I try to get freer with my framework each year, and there have been shows where I’ve tried to have no preferences at all. But even if you don’t want to have any preferences, there are always things that you come back to. I was fighting that for a while. I tried to have a jazz approach of always expressing myself and not playing anything prepared. But I’ve relaxed on that a little bit, since I realized that I have some grooves and melodies that I love to play.
And here’s that clip from Benny’s 2014 Meinl Drum Festival clinic.