Instant Composers Pool (ICP) Orchestra
** VENUE is the Seattle Art Museum Downtown (1300 First Ave).
** Misha left the tour last week for health reasons.
The Instant Composers Pool (ICP) Orchestra, long one of the world's most startling and ear-stretching jazz ensembles and also one of the most amusing and diverting makes a return visit to these shores, with a lineup of ten stellar musicians.
Still at the helm is one of the true originals, pianist Misha Mengelberg. He and drummer Han Bennink formed the group in Amsterdam in 1967 in the full throes of the free-jazz movement. The ICP was then, and remains now, a refuge for playing in the spirit of those times, and in its performances and recordings it contains its near-anarchy within recognizable musical forms, from swing rave-ups to twisted tangos.
The "instant composition" that drives the band is spontaneity and idiosyncrasy. "I welcome all kinds of personal things, which depend on the resoluteness of the musicians," Mengelberg has said. That is to say, he seeks to surround himself with singular jazz musicians, and he has plenty of those in the current ICP beginning with the tireless Bennink. When the group formed, Mengelberg and Bennink were still in the glow of their memorable collaboration with Eric Dolphy in 1964, just before his death. That would kick-start their foundational role in what jazz writer Kevin Whitehead calls, as the title of his history of modern Dutch jazz puts it: New Dutch Swing.
That hybrid set itself apart from American models with such components as a European chamber-music sensibility and, notably, a heap of pizzazz. The latter is an inevitable element of any performance that includes the irrepressible, hyper-percussive Bennink. For the group's edginess, however, Mengelberg is just as important, and more subtly so. He is a master of oblique, unpredictable, and often just plain playful composing for this creative orchestra. Wry humor is one element of his generally eccentric musical personality, which manifests itself in surprising tempos and phrasing.
Bringing this to life with Mengelberg and Bennink is a lineup of top-flight, maverick contributors. The line-up includes Wolter Wierbos (trombone), Ernst Glerum (bass), Ab Baars (clarinet/saxophone), Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Tobias Delius (tenor sax), and three Americans with plenty of Dutch residency: violist Mary Oliver, multi-horn man Michael Moore, and cellist Tristan Honsinger.
Mengelberg loosely directs the whole swirling show with startling musical gestures at the keyboard. From there, he has said, he likes "to put sticks into the spokes of all wheels." Similarly, the band's members are at liberty to inject a "virus" a written snippet that will disrupt a tune, forcing the ensemble to renew its instant composition.
ICP Orchestra: (top row) Tobias Delius, Han Bennink, Thomas Heberer, Tristan Honsinger, Michael Moore, Ab Baars
(bottom row) Wolter Wierbos, Mary Oliver, Misha Mengelberg, Ernst Glerum. Photo by Francesca Patella.
Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium
1300 First Ave
Seattle, MA 98101
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|