Jim Meneses

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Drummers are rarely remembered by rock history, even when they made an impact. Jim Meneses is one of them. Through the ‘80s and early-to-mid-'90s, he has contributed his idiosyncratic playing to a string…
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Drummers are rarely remembered by rock history, even when they made an impact. Jim Meneses is one of them. Through the ‘80s and early-to-mid-'90s, he has contributed his idiosyncratic playing to a string of influential groups of avant-rock persuasion, both in his native Philadelphia and mainland Europe: The Stick Men, KIXX, Zero Pop, Palinckx, Blast. His creative techniques, improv flair, and impeccable timing even in the oddest time signatures have been instrumental in these groups' artistic successes. Meneses also performs as an improvisor and since the late 1990s has been mostly writing music for theatre and dance, and performing on a custom-made MIDI marimba.

Meneses made his professional debut with the Philadelphia avant/post-punk/new-wave group The Stick Men, where he replaced Michael McGettigan. Led by Peter L. Baker, a visionary artist and true eccentric, The Stick Men's cartoonish delivery planted in the young drummer a taste for stage antics, clownish theatrics, and irreverence (all elements he found again in Palinckx). During the group's active years (1980-1983) he also put together the performance loft The Wet Spot, inviting British improvisers like Derek Bailey and Phil Minton. Travelling to the East and West Coast, he performed with the rising generation of avant-garde performers: Zeena Parkins, George Cartwright, Davey Williams, and Tom Cora among others.

After The Stick Men fell apart circa 1984, Meneses began to split his time between the United States and Europe, with a preference for the Netherlands. In 1985 he toured with David Moss' Dense Band and joined KIXX with whom he would record three albums. With Mark Howell and Bruno Meillier he formed Zero Pop (one LP in 1988). Before the end of the decade he had toured with Peter Brötzmann, Willem Breuker, and Hans Koch, had scored music for Philie filmmaker Peter Rose, and had brought a number of European musicians to the US.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Meneses played his first solo concerts and performed with avant-core guitarist Stephan Wittwer and future Present bassist Keith Macksoud in Sludge 5-0. A collaboration with Czech drummer Pavel Fajt (Dunaj, Iva Bittová) resulted in the album Songs for the Drums (1994). In 1993 he joined the Amsterdam avant-prog group of the brothers Jacques and Bert Palinckx. His most stable tenure and crazy ensemble since The Stick Men, Palinckx gave him an occasion to play the biggest new music festivals and record four albums. To compensate the exuberance of this group he also joined the more cerebral, Art Zoyd-influenced group Blast and played in both until the end of the 1990s. Much quieter since 1998, Meneses has released a set of percussion duets with Toshi Makihara (Next Bug, 2001).