Drumming and Dance

Songs from the Second World
Jesse Manno, Peter Jones, Tigger Benford

Songs Second World

Tigger Benford, Jesse Manno and Peter Jones are well known veteran musicians in the obscure but extensive world of music for modern dance. All of them are also known as players and composers in other realms, but they met and first created music together at Bates Dance Festival, held every year in Lewiston, Maine, and the summer home of some of the most accomplished musicians in the world in this particular specialty of music for modern dance technique class. Their backgrounds span training in Western classical, pop and jazz styles, as well as extensive study in Indian and Balkan music, and quite a bit of indirect influence from African and Middle Eastern styles, among others. Their music never strives to imitate, but instead is a powerful and original artistic statement that could only be made by North Americans in the early 21st Century. All music is specific to time and place and this music is no exception. Each musician contributed three pieces to this CD to be infused with the other’s influence and spice. It is intensely collaborative music and we all hope you enjoy it very much.

Tigger Benford & The New World Drumming Group

Rhythmically charged and spacious in timing, Talamalika captures the live energy of four hand drummers and four singers, in a unique synthesis of World drumming traditions.

Talamalika is a set of rhythmic pieces for four hand drummers and four singers. Each work is pulse driven throughout, and each successive piece is built on a shorter cycle of beats, to create a feeling of spinning inward. The pieces build gradually and are spacious in their timing, so they are very good for dance. Each piece is arranged for different instruments, including tabla, kanjira, mridangam, riq, boddhran, djun djun, hadgini and dumbek. The drumming was done live, by four players in the same room at the same time,without overdubs, and the CD really captures the spirit and energy and precision of fine ensemble performance on acoustic instruments. A booklet describes the instruments in detail

The additional fine players on the CD include percussionists Todd Isler, Glen Fittin and Martha Partridge, and singers Danon O’Sow, Maya Azucena, Elizabeth Haselwood and Pene McCourty.

Tigger Benford

This CD consists of ten works for percussion and other instruments, divided into two sets of five pieces each. The first five are marimba pieces and the last five are for the quieter types of hand drums. The marimba pieces are rhythmic, open and spatious. In spirit they draw inspiration from African musical traditions for mbira (thumb piano), kora (double harp), and balophone (gourd resonated xylophones). The hand drumming pieces feature a variety of sounds, including tabla, spaghetti pot, water bottle, and many more. Vocalist Phillip Hamilton and guitarist Mark Stewart, now with Paul Simon’s band, make wonderful contributions as well.

The Metal Garden
Benford & Jones

METAL GARDEN is 20 duets for prepared piano and percussion, with additional tracks by violinist Sam Bardfeld and reed player Bruce Huron. It is a collaborative CD, produced by Benford and pianist Peter Jones.

One of the CDs most unique aspects is the range of tonal colors produced by the combination of prepared piano (acoustic piano altered by the placement of objects in the strings), and the scoffolded percussion set up of cymbals, bells, gongs, drums and various wooden instruments. Benford and Jones have a particularly developed sense of rapport when they play together, which will be immediately apparent to the listener in these edited, improvised duets.

The pieces on the CD range from lyrical to abstract, and from spatious and calm to driving and intense. The works are carefully ordered to carry the listener on a fascinating, satisfying journey through a rich and gorgeous garden of sound.


Fluctuating Hemlines
Tigger Benford


Fluctuating Hemlines is a 30 minute drumming score for five percussionists, commissioned by ballet choreographer Septime Webre. The theme of the dance is the animalistic nature of humans beneath the veneer of civilized behavior, and the sexy, driving drumming did a lot to bring this point across. It has been presented live with the ballet for 14 dancers with the Washington Ballet, the American Repertory Ballet Theatre at the Joyce Theatre in New York City, the Dayton Ballet, Ballet Austin, and twice with the Sacramento Ballet, as well as being presented in recorded form with innumerable ballet companies around the US. This recording is a live performance with the Sacramento Ballet in 1999. The five drummer/percussionists are Todd Isler, Rex Benincasa, Martha Partridge, N. Scott Robinson and Tigger Benford.