Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1970, James A. Bennington lived in Detroit, Michigan until 1979 when he relocated to Houston, Texas. He began music studies on clarinet, switching to drums at age thirteen. Bennington's experience has come from public school, private study, work as a sideman and as a band leader with his group Colour and Sound.
Early musical experiences include participation in several jazz and blues sessions in Texas (late 1980s / early 1990s). Bennington studied with the late Elvin Jones the last decade of his life and served as band manager / drum tech, for the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine from 2000–2002 (touring the U.S. and Europe).
After a residence on the West Coast (1998-2006), Jimmy has been based in Chicago 2006–present. He has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America. He has played and recorded in the jazz and improvised music communities for a quarter of a century. He has been fortunate to have performed and recorded with legendary artists including Julian Priester, David Haney, Perry Robinson, Ed Schuller, Bert Wilson, Ken Filiano, Steve Cohn, Daniel Carter as well as French musicians Benjamin Duboc and Jobic Le Masson.
In 2007, Jimmy joined the prestigious New York labels Cadence Jazz Records and CIMP as a recording artist. Bennington's own Chicago label, ThatSwan! Records, produced the collectors items Portraits and Silhouettes featuring Julian Priester, earning recognition for 'Best Recordings of 2007’ from AllAboutJazz- New York. He also produced Another Friend, the Music of Herbie Nichols featuring David Haney, popular throughout Japan and cited in the only known book on Herbie Nichols, A Jazzist’s Life. Recently, Jimmy was included on David Haney’s piano/drum duet album Stix and Stones (Slam) including artists Bernard Purdie and Han Bennink. He has been recognized by numerous industry groups and publications including the
Rutgers University Encyclopedia of Jazz and several times by the I.A.J.R.C. Journal (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors).
In Chicago, Bennington has been an active contributor to the music scene, playing regularly with legendary bassist Brian Smith, saxophonists Fredrick Jackson Jr. (AACM), Artie Black, Dustin Laurenzi, Ben Schmidt-Swartz, trumpeters Ben Lamar Gay (AACM) and Jerome Croswell (AACM), Swiss guitarist Samuel Mösching, pianists Jim Baker (Delmark) and Dan Pierson, bassists Mike W. Harmon and Devin Foster.
Most notably, Bennington has been a special guest at the 30th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge, the Tampon-Galerie (Paris), Krannert Artist Series & University Jazz Forum (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), and the Arts Incubator (University of Chicago).
Bennington's recent release, Exotic Coda (CIMP) was included in Down Beat Magazine's Best Albums of 2014 issue.
“…Bennington has put into motion major activity in the accelerated world of music.” – Delfeayo Marsalis
“…Bennington’s unique sound and loose drumming, which doesn’t follow traditional rhythmic patterns and leaves quite a bit of room to freedom.” – Alain Drouot, Down Beat Magazine
Photo Credit: Bill Peterson c2017