Artist's BiographyGregg Bendian was born on July 13th, 1963 in Englewood, New Jersey. His family lived in Fairview, NJ until moving to Teaneck, NJ when Gregg was seven years old. Gregg grew up in a house where music was always in the air. His parents, Martin and Patricia, were great music lovers and Gregg was exposed to a wide range of music very early on in life. From Sinatra and Tchaikovsky to Simon & Garfunkel, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and The Beatles - The Bendian household enjoyed it all. This no doubt had a huge impact on the way Gregg approaches music today.
The Bendian family's move to Teaneck had a profound effect on Gregg's development. The town was well-known for its excellent school system and had one of the finest arts programs in the country. For the first time Gregg was directly exposed to various forms of African-American culture. He heard jazz, funk and R&B music at many of his friend's homes. A new world was opened.
Gregg began rudimental drum studies at the age of nine with Wells Jenny and played in the school orchestra. During junior high school, he began piano and music theory studies, and for the first time began writing his own music. Gregg played drums in rock and jazz bands with friends, learning popular songs and immediately 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 listened fervently to bands such as Gentle Giant, Gong, Genesis, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Return to Forever, Weather Report, and especially, The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The intricate rhythms and contrapuntal composing style of each of these bands greatly influenced Gregg's ears and his thinking about music in general.
This propelled Gregg to study classical percussion under Gary Van Dyke of the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble.
During his high school years Gregg also completely immersed himself in composing chamber music. He studied intensively under composer Jeffrey Kreske of William Paterson University and devoured the music of Edgard Varese, Anton Webern, Charles Ives, Stefan Wolpe, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Elliott Carter. Simultaneously, Gregg studied drumset with rhythm innovators Andrew Cyrille and Steve McCall at their Greenwich Village studios and attended a great many inspiring concerts of the new jazz at the important New York loft space Soundscape, and at The Public Theater. This was a time of great exploration and preparation for Gregg's future contributions to the realms of creative composition, improvisation and jazz.
Gregg attended Rutgers University and studied composition with the late Noel DaCosta, whose well-known interest in joining classical music with jazz and world music had a profound effect on Gregg. Noel quickly recognized Gregg's potential as a serious conceptualist and encouraged him to pursue his own artistic voice and unique musical direction. The two remained close friends over the next 20 years, until DaCosta's death in 2002.
Gregg left Rutgers in 1983 to immerse himself in the music-making of the New York Downtown scene. It was during this time that he first played with many important improvisers such as Derek Bailey, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Mark Ribot, Ned Rothenberg, William Parker, Mark Dresser, Evan Parker, Borah Bergman, Butch Morris, Tom Cora and many more. He formed "The Gregg Bendian Project" and first began presenting concerts of his unique musical blend of intricate composition and improvisation in New York City in January of 1984.
Shortly after playing with Derek Bailey, Gregg was asked by Bailey to join his improvising collective, "Company". It was within "Company" that Gregg first played with such musicians as Leo Smith, George Lewis, Robert Dick, Lol Coxhill, Gavin Bryars, Roscoe Mitchell, Peter Kovald, and Peter Brotzmann.
Soon after, pianist Cecil Taylor heard a tape of Bendian and Bailey's duo improvisations and was impressed by Gregg rhythmic and sonic approach. When Tony Oxley was unavailable for a Boston performance in March 0f 1989, Taylor asked Bendian to fill in. Gregg played with The Cecil Taylor Trio for most of 1989. During this period of intense activity the trio toured widely and recorded an album for A&M called "In Florescence"(1990). The disc includes two of Bendian's solo percussion works, "Entity" and "for Steve McCall" - a rather rare instance of Taylor including the works of another composer on his own record date.
During the 1990's and beyond Gregg has released many critically acclaimed CDs, including Definite Pitch (for solo percussion), Interstellar Space Revisited (with Nels Cline), Banter (with Derek Bailey), The Sign of 4 (with Pat Metheny), Requiem for Jack Kirby (with Gregg Bendian's Interzone), and We Saw A Bozo Under The Sea (with Capt. Beefheart guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo). During this period Gregg also performed as timpani soloist with Ornette Coleman's "Harmelodic Chamber Players".
Bendian currently leads the ensembles INTERZONE, THE MAHAVISHNU PROJECT (who performed at MoogFest 2006 with original Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboard master, Jan Hammer), and TRIO PIANISSIMO. Gregg is now planning the release of "Research (Tiny Useful Secrets)" a disc of ten innovative percussion works on his own Aggregate Music label in spring of 2008. Gregg is currently appearing as drummer/background vocalist of the Genesis repertory ensemble, THE MUSICAL BOX.
Gregg is an active performer and a frequent clinician for Paiste cymbals, Drum Workshop drums, Attack heads and Musser tuned percussion. A sought-after composer and private instructor, Gregg is featured in the book/CD "Percussion Profiles: Interviews, Articles & Discographies of 25 of the World's Most Creative Percussionists" (Soundworld Publishers/FMR Records). He is currently at work producing "Live at The Bottom Line: The First 30 Years", a four-CD set of archival concert recordings featuring over 80 tracks, to be released by Koch International sometime in 2008.