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Ontregelaars in ontwikkeling; het ICP Orchestra is nog niet klaar
artikel door Peter Bruyn op frnkfrt.net 1-9-12
Tik. Tik. Tik. Terwijl de andere musici hun plaatsen innemen staat Misha Mengelberg naast de vleugel en tikt met zijn wandelstok op de vloer van het Bimhuis. Hoort dit erbij? Is het concert al begonnen? Als Misha Mengelberg zoiets doet dan kun je wis en waarachtig wel aannemen dat het concert daarmee ook begonnen is.
Het ICP Orchestra opende afgelopen vrijdag het concertseizoen bij het Amsterdamse Bimhuis. In de onregelmatig verschijnende nieuwsbrief die de ICP recent rondstuurde, werd verheugd meegedeeld dat de verlangde subsidie wederom is toegekend door het Fonds voor de Podiumkunsten. Tegelijk leek die opmerking voor de oplettende lezer ook met enige gêne omkleed. De musici zijn zich er terdege van bewust dat talloze collega’s die evenzeer aan de weg timmeren dit jaar bij het verdelen van de subsidiegelden mis hebben gegrepen.
lees verder op frnkfrt.net...
august, 2010 Downbeat
de Volkskrant 04 september 2012
de Volkskrant 04 september 2012
ICP Orchestra (opening Bimhuisseizoen)
Bimhuis, Amsterdam, 31/8
De liefde voor historische jazzmuziek druipt van het orkest en wordt gespeeld en gecomponeerd met een ziel en liefdevolle knipoog. Niemand die onberoerd blijft tijdens de nu al legendarische solo van saxofonist Tobias Delius. Terwijl Sean Bergin, al tientallen jaren een zeer gewaardeerde, authentieke saxofonist uit de Amsterdamse improscene, op zijn sterfbed lag (een dag later zal hij overlijden), blaast Delius een wervelende ode aan de cultheld. Hij schreeuwt de longen uit zijn lijf in hartstochtelijke uithalen. Het publiek houdt de adem in.
De openingsavond van het nieuwe jazzseizoen in het Bimhuis is veelbewogen. Geen band die het beter kan doen dan het ICP Orchestra, avontuur gegarandeerd. En geen band die zich zo elastisch kan opstellen. Je voelt het, de gehele avond, de spanning, bewondering en het verdriet; drummer HanBennink deelde het later zelf mee aan het publiek: deze avond is nu opgedragen aan Sean Bergin, een fantastische man die gemist gaat worden als mens en muzikant. En er gebeurde nog zoveel meer. Het ICP Orchestra, van improgoeroes Han Bennink en Misha Mengelberg, maakt nog altijd steengoede jazzmuziek op het scherpst van de snede. De zalvende blaaskoren, waarin je de geest van Basie of Ellington voelt, vouwen zich over vermakelijke improvisaties.Liefde voor historische jazzmuziek druipt van het orkest en wordt gespeeld en gecomponeerd met een ziel en liefdevolle knipoog. De kracht zit in het indrukwekkende samenspel en vooral de mooie individuen. Naar Mengelberg kun je uren kijken. Zijn fysiek is zwak, maar als hij met wandelstok de vleugel bereikt en zijn vertrouwde, eigenwijze akkoorden speelt, verschijnt de glimlach op je gezicht. Langzaam staat hij op, laat de tong over de lippen glijden, leunt met de linkerhand tegen de vleugel en rommelt met rechts wat op de toetsen. Bij aanvang van de tweede set geeft Mengelberg de vleugel nog een blik om te besluiten niet meer terug te keren. Het is genoeg geweest, morgen spelen ze nogmaals. Guus Janssen vervangt hem.
Je weet niet waar je moet kijken. Op elk moment vechten de tien leden duels uit, schreeuwt iemand om aandacht en neemt de ander plotseling de leiding. Chaotisch is het nooit, de rasimprovisatoren vallen elkaar met de ogen dicht aan zonder dat de sleur ook maar op de loer ligt. Een concert van het ICP Orchestra is vooral een beleving. Het emotionele palet van de avond is groots. De rouw om de naderende dood van Bergin overheerst, terwijl de bijeenkomst boordevol feestelijke elementen zit. De ICP box (zie kader), de opening van de mooi vormgegeven expositie van Han Bennink in het Bimhuiscafé en natuurlijk de verrukkelijke muziek. Paradoxaal en onvergetelijk.
March 23, 2006 New York Times
ICP Orchestra's Experimental Jazz Swings at Tonic
By Nate Chinen
For the first 10 minutes of the ICP Orchestra's early set at Tonic on Tuesday night, the pianist Misha Mengelberg and the drummer Han Bennink indulged in an improvised duet, something they have been doing together for roughly 40 years. Their styles were complementary, if a bit bizarrely so. Mr. Mengelberg gave the impression of a man groping for the doorknob in a darkened room. Mr. Bennink occupied the same room, but with a different temperament, impatiently and heedlessly knocking things around.
That somewhat comedic contrast has always characterized Mr. Mengelberg's rapport with Mr. Bennink; as an exploratory pair, they have as much in common with Laurel and Hardy as with Lewis and Clark. In 1967, they applied their collective energies to the formation of a Dutch avant-garde movement called the Instant Composers Pool, or ICP. (A third founding member, the multireedist Willem Breuker, left the organization within its first decade.) The ICP Orchestra, a flagship in a small fleet of like-minded projects, took shape in the early 1980's, with Mr. Mengelberg and Mr. Bennink at the helm.
The 10-piece group still adheres to Mr. Mengelberg's mandate of "instant composition," a term that's best understood in opposition to the formless expanse of free jazz. At Tonic, most of the music was spontaneously conceived, and a good deal of it bore the hallmarks of free-form experimentalism: clarinet squeals, saxophone shrieks, twitchy arco bowing on viola, cello and double bass. But there were signposts embedded in the music. Coordinated ensemble figures cropped up unexpectedly, hinting at a secret discipline and a fondness for bygone jazz styles.
Swing — the jump-band variety, not the polished orchestral fare — was a shadow presence throughout the evening. On one tune, horns and reeds attacked a scrap of melody with ramshackle exuberance, while Mr. Bennink's bass drum thumped four beats to the bar. Mr. Mengelberg, soloing with the rhythm section, reached for a modern sensibility; he sounded more than a little like the Duke Ellington of "Money Jungle," a 1962 outing with Charles Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums.
Every other member of the orchestra had at least one solo turn; a few, like the clarinetist Michael Moore, the cellist Tristan Honsinger and the trumpeter Thomas Heberer, made multiple contributions. The most engagingly emphatic was Tobias Delius, playing tenor saxophone on a set-closer; he began in the hard rhythmic style of Illinois Jacquet, and gradually pushed toward catharsis.
Mr. Delius was essentially riding the wave of the ensemble's propulsion, which transported the song from crisp Ellingtonian swing (circa 1930's) into cacophonous group improvisation (late 60's). In that moment, and on an equally immersive rumba, ICP lived up to its name; not just the first two letters, but also P, for "pool."
March 23, 2006 The Stranger
by Chistopher Delaurentis
What is "free" in freely improvised music? For many improvisers, "free" means loosing the shackles of notated music, eschewing tonal composition, shunning traditional concepts of melody, and best of all, dissolving the boundary between practice (especially rote drills) and performance. The results often bristle with points and spikes—intuitive, instantaneous manifestations of the jarring contrasts, tectonic shifts in volume level, and perpetually flowering dissonance that took serial composers like Anton Webern and Milton Babbitt years, months, and weeks to make.
Yet some improvisers find freedom on a bigger scale. The Amsterdam-based ICP Orchestra takes a catholic approach, pilfering music from multiple eras and stitching the results into a shambling sonic tatterdemalion. Under the direction of pianist Misha Mengelberg, an integral part of the 1960s Dutch free-jazz scene, the ICP Orchestra makes freely improvised music fun, ranging and rampaging from those aforementioned lyrical points and spikes to Dixieland jazz to waltzes and tangos.
Featuring 10 of the top improvisers from Amsterdam's celebrated jazz scene, including reedmen Ab Baars and Tobias Delius, Tristan Honsinger on cello, and violinist/violist Mary Oliver, the ICP Orchestra brings drama, wit, and virtuosity into freely improvised music. Lesser musicians might buckle under such willful eclecticism and devolve into puerile pastiche, but the ICP juxtaposes diverse and diverging musics with respect and love. The ICP's members are composers too—ICP stands for Instant Composer's Pool—creating pieces for the group to improvise in, through, and around. The visual highlight of the group is master percussionist Han Bennink, whose playful willingness to apply his drumsticks to any surface adds to the ICP's infectious, rambunctious fun.
March 22, 2006 L.A. Weekly
Duke and Duck
by Greg Burk
They’ve got a lot of perverts in Holland. Quite a few geniuses, too, and it can be hard to tell the difference.
Sort it out Friday, when Instant Composers Pool Orchestra visits. The leading pervs of the 10-member ensemble are pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink. When in their 20s, they were among the first Continentals to grant cred to the American jazz avant-garde, and their chops and scope have teamed them with statesiders from Marion Brown and George Lewis to Lee Konitz and Sonny Rollins. And of course they’ve gotten down with all the Euro-weirdoes such as Peter Brötzmann and Derek Bailey.
Luckily, they perform every gyration necessary to avoid getting revered — Mengelberg has even wrinkled his proboscis at John Coltrane, saying he didn’t dig all that one-chord jamming. The latest ICPO album, Aan & Uit, maintains the group’s peculiar tilt of absurdity and excellence, flying from Dixie to Mexico to Mingus’ New York in ever-shifting textural perspectives, deriving its only consistency from the satanic mastery of the players. When Ellingtonian orchestrations swell wonderfully at the beginning, it’s only seconds before Mengelberg pokes in with his gibbering vocals or contrarian piano — and here’s where the challenge comes in. You can either let knee-jerk irritation spaz you out, or marvel at the perfect awfulness of the interruptions. The voice is precisely opposed to the rhythm; the piano splayings don’t contain a single note that’s in the chords behind. You’re like Donald Duck with a little angel at one ear and a little devil at the other; in other words, the art is just like life.
Maybe Mengelberg and Bennink are exorcising a grudge about their greatest claim to American fame: their 1964 appearance on Last Date, almost literally the last thing Eric Dolphy ever recorded. They never got paid for that, and they’ve divined a way to punish us (for getting stiffed) and reward us (for the notoriety) at the same time.
May 9, 2005 New York Times
Improvisors on the Loose, Still Proudly Scratchy
By Ben Ratcliff
At The Stone on Friday night, Misha Mengelberg walked to the piano warily, sat down and broke the silence, grunting ''Hoo-ah!'' Eugene Chadbourne, fiddling with a banjo, produced a spoon from his breast pocket and nonchalantly tossed it onto the body of an acoustic guitar sitting in front of him, making a little resonating noise: plonk-whongg. They were off.
Mr. Chadbourne, in his early 50's, lives in North Carolina now, but when he lived in New York in the late 1970's and 80's, he worked among a small crowd of free improvisers who were booking their own tiny gigs and inventing their own languages. It was a truculent, open-ended, beneficially messy period for this kind of music: Steve Lacy, the saxophonist, liked to talk about ''the scratchy 70's.'' Mr. Chadbourne, still putting out his own records and combining free jazz, country music, rock and humor, has stayed scratchy.
In his own way, so has Mr. Mengelberg, almost 20 years older. He is one of the daddies of the Dutch experimental jazz scene, which since the 1960's has been heavy on theatrics, Thelonious Monk and John Cage, and he has come to New York to play two weeks of improvised performances at the Stone, in different configurations each night.
In a short duo set of two long pieces Friday, Mr. Mengelberg and Mr. Chadbourne found a couple of common areas. The first was totally free gestural improvisation. Mr. Chadbourne played his banjo against Mr. Mengelberg's soft abstractions and doggedly followed the elder musician's flow of ideas, rhythmically and tonally. Sometimes Mr. Chadbourne squeezes music out of toys, or a rake, or a cigarette lighter. Here he was more restrained, and he offered only little hints of anarchy, accelerating into a violent, clattering strum or yanking the strings from the top near the pegboard. Unlike Mr. Mengelberg, who sounded very pianistic, Mr. Chadbourne was trying to explore all the hidden properties of his instrument -- drumming on the banjo's animal-skin head, detuning it, tapping the strings.
In the second, Mr. Chadbourne played acoustic guitar, and took the lead. He sketched out some pretty chord changes, not exactly repeating them. It sometimes sounded like Fats Waller's ''Ain't Misbehavin''' or a Monk tune, but the musicians took different routes; it became a soup of phrases in a unified mood and key. They were taking their ease in old American culture. It was a restful, almost folklike performance.
Misha Mengelberg continues tomorrow through Sunday at the Stone, Avenue C at 2nd Street, East Village.
Published: 05 - 09 - 2005, Late Edition - Final, Section E, Column 4, Page 5
May 5, 2005 JazzTimes
Misha Mengelberg @ The Stone
By David Adler
It doesn’t get a lot more “downtown” than The Stone, John Zorn’s new venue in the East Village. Located several long blocks from the nearest subway, the space is a small, bare-bones amalgam of brick, wood, plaster and black curtains, but the comfortable seats are set at an angle, creating an illusion of roominess. The lighting is pleasant, the sound is warm, and the performance area (no stage or riser) is just large enough for musicians to get comfortable. There is no bar, so The Stone makes even Tonic seem downright commercial.
The booking policy is simple: A different guest curator takes the helm every month. The second guest curator (reedist Ned Rothenberg opened the place) is pianist Misha Mengelberg, appearing until May 15. For his series, the Ukrainian-born Dutchman has tapped the talents of Mat Maneri, Ikue Mori, Dave Douglas, Henry Grimes, Ben Perowsky, Mark Feldman and more. But on May 5 Mengelberg huddled with trombonist George Lewis and bassist Brad Jones, playing an early set of free improvisation (which we missed) and a later, more “structured” set involving the calling of tunes and sometimes the reading of charts.
Mengelberg caught everyone off guard—perhaps even himself—with the opening hiccups of Monk’s “Criss Cross.” Lewis joined but quickly stumbled, exclaiming, “I forgot it!” But through sheer will and ear-power, he nailed down the twisted melody by the second time through. Formally, too, “Criss Cross” is a hall of mirrors, but the trio bore down accurately; Lewis soloed with breathtaking agility and force and then picked up his plunger to “comp” for Mengelberg.
The remaining pieces were Mengelberg’s, including several from the 1994 album Who’s Bridge? (Avant) and one from the more recent Four In One (Songlines). Having played on both these albums, Brad Jones was a rhythmic pillar (and a brilliant soloist) on the bossa-ish “A Bit Nervous,” the boppish “Rollo 3” and the sultry, vaguely old-school “Rollo 2.” Lewis was in full legato glory on the short rubato dreamscape “Reef.”
Known mainly for his far-reaching theories of “instant composition,” Mengelberg is also quite the melody writer. But even in this relatively “inside” context his eccentricities led the way forward. Like Monk, he is in no way a conventional pianist. Lewis and Jones were the more fluid chops-wise, but Mengelberg’s conceptual dynamism held each piece together, and the harmony he played under Lewis’s busiest passages was gripping. When the set was over, he simply declared, “That was it for tonight.”
November 5, 2004 Chicago Tribune
ICP band's reach as wide as an ocean
By Howard Reich
If there was a facet of jazz expression that the ICP Orchestra didn't address Wednesday night at HotHouse, it probably wasn't worth mentioning.
Practically every twist on the music--from 19th Century ragtime to 21st Century free-form experimentation--eventually came to the fore, and considering that this magnificent Dutch band has been swinging for decades, the sheer vitality of its explorations into American and European jazz vocabularies may have caught some listeners by surprise.
Jazz organizations that last this long don't typically convey as much intellectual curiosity, stylistic reach and technical daring as the ICP (Instant Composers Pool) band did in every piece on its first set. Each of the evening's many miniatures, in fact, bristled with strange and provocative juxtapositions of style and musical language, a blues lament giving way to a series of fierce dissonances, an easy swing tempo abruptly interrupted by passages of seeming rhythmic anarchy.
At first hearing, a skeptical listener might consider the ICP unit a collection of brazenly uninhibited, barely disciplined improvisers who excel at creating noise and color above all else. But before long, this aggregate of string, brass, reed and rhythm players reveals the range of its achievement.
Performing as if the Atlantic Ocean never separated Europe and North America, the ICP band brilliantly merged the musical values of two continents, and then some. Listen closely, and there was no mistaking the merger of Kurt Weill-like cabaret motifs with Duke Ellington-inspired orchestrations, Mozartean string passages with uptempo march beats right out of John Philip Sousa.
The blues-swing traditions of Count Basie, the whimsical polyphony of post-'60s Dutch improvisers, the robust orchestral eruptions of Charles Mingus, the high-flying solos of Eric Dolphy, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman and other American iconoclasts--all of this came into play during the ICP Orchestra's set.
More important, this band continues to show that cutting-edge music-making is not necessarily dour and humorless, that innovative ideas need not be severed from generations of jazz tradition and that composition and improvisation can coexist effectively when a group of like-minded tinkerers knows what it's doing.
Led by the profound pianist-composer Misha Mengelberg, whose solos hardly could have been more lyrical or succinct, the ICP Orchestra reaffirmed its position among the most inventive mid-size bands in jazz.
If Mengelberg's brief, mid-set comments to the large audience proved somewhat halting and tentative, the music he and his longtime collaborators produced was quite the opposite. Long may they thunder.
Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
7th March 2003
Théatre des Bergeries, Noisy-le-Sec
by Dan Warburton
Dutch veterans Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink are also, of course, Grand Masters when it comes to incorporating humour and theatre in performance, but the sense of benign anarchy that reigns during an ICP Orchestra gig (do not be fooled - things are much more organised than they seem) is always a joy to behold. Misha, who finally ambled onstage to his piano after a sensational opening trio improvisation featuring trombonist Wolter Wierbos, violist Mary Oliver and tenor saxophonist Toby Delius, was evidently delighted with proceedings throughout. Apart from a brief piece of music theatre where he and Han wandered around the stage catching imaginary mosquitoes in people's instruments (and plugging the new ICP album at the same time), the humour on display was present within the music itself rather than grafted onto it. The ICP horn section is as entertaining to watch as it is to listen to, moving to the right from Wierbos' pit bull power (this guy could probably blow a hole through a wall), via trumpeter Thomas Heberer's classical poise and Delius' deceptively laidback attitude to the po-faced Ab Baars on clarinet (again, don't be fooled..) and the sheer elegance of Michael Moore, who played Hodges to Misha's Duke to perfection. Counterbalanced by the string trio of Oliver, cellist Tristan Honsinger (as intense as ever) and bassist Ernst Glerum, with Bennink's incomparable brushwork keeping time behind, the orchestra delivered the standard ICP goods - Mengelberg and Monk compositions to the fore - with consummate panache. If you ever get a chance to see this outfit live, don't miss it - you will not be disappointed. Hard to single out a high spot, but the reading of Monk's "Criss Cross" might just be it - Moore's superb solo inspired Misha to produce one of the finest (and funkiest) solos I've ever heard him play.
Sunday, September 10, 2000
By Derk Richardson
If an earthquake had leveled the Mills College Concert Hall last Sunday night,
the world would have lost one of its premiere avant-garde ensembles, and the
East Bay would have bid good-bye to the creative music scene as we know it. Of
the two hundred listeners present for the Bay Area debut of Amsterdam's
pioneering ICP Orchestra, at least half seemed to be musicians and/or presenters
on the local improv circuit. As it was, both the building and the listeners
withstood the musical temblors generated by the radical nine-piece band, but no
one was left unshaken.
At the epicenter of the raucous turmoil (relieved by moments of
chamber-music-like delicacy) was 58-year-old Dutch drummer Han Bennink,
who cofounded the ICP-Instant Composers Pool-in 1967 with 65-year-old Kiev-born
pianist Misha Mengelberg. With his small drum kit set up in the middle of the
stage, the athletic, shorts-clad Bennink pulled out all his percussive tricks:
tossing cymbals on the ground, resting his foot on or throwing a towel over his
tom-toms, beating on a board. To his left, trombonist Wolter Wierbos,
trumpeter Thomas Heberer, clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Ab Baars,
and clarinetist/alto saxophonist Michael Moore offered strange harmonies and a
variety of logic-stretching solos. To his near right, the string section of
violinist Mary Oliver, cellist Tristan Honsinger, and bassist Ernst Glerum
provided sometimes velvety, sometimes scratchy textures not typically
associated with jazz; and to Bennink's extreme right, Mengelberg hunched over a
grand piano and plunked out jagged chords and runs in a style owing to both
Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor.
In two 45-minute sets, the orchestra tangentially touched base with modern
classical composition (a new Honsinger work and a Charles Ives piece), swing
and bebop (Ellington-Tizol's "Caravan" and Herbie Nichols' "Spinning Song"),
Afro-calypso (a segment of the ICP's own "Jubilee Varia" suite), and much
more. Born from the same collectivist aesthetic that spawned Chicago's
Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the ICP
(along with the more overtly comic Willem Breuker Kollektief) epitomize
what critic Kevin Whitehead has called "New Dutch Swing." But going back to
1964, when Bennink and Mengelberg recorded with Eric Dolphy, its members
have always been rigorously internationalist in their collaborations, and their borderless music has consistently transcended provincialism. The orchestra may never
rock the world of commercial music, it's capable of bringing down the house every time it plays.