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Lazaro Vega

Review of the ICP Orchestra at Tonic

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The touring Dutchmen touch down at the Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor, on March 28th.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/23/arts/mus...i=5070&emc=eta1

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March 23, 2006

Jazz Review

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."

Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

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Would love to see these, guys.

p.s. I still can't get the hang of the 'Mr X...' 'Mr Y...' usage.

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Going tonight in Los Angeles!

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Does anyone know if a Times reviewer ever referred to Sun Ra, the second time around, as "Mr. Ra"? Also -- and I think this come up elsewhere long ago -- what did they/do you do with Meatloaf?

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I like a cold meatloaf sammich the next day.

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Does anyone know if a Times reviewer ever referred to Sun Ra, the second time around, as "Mr. Ra"? Also -- and I think this come up elsewhere long ago -- what did they/do you do with Meatloaf?

I count 5 Mr Ra's in this 1986 Times review.

MrRa.jpg

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Does anyone know if a Times reviewer ever referred to Sun Ra, the second time around, as "Mr. Ra"? Also -- and I think this come up elsewhere long ago -- what did they/do you do with Meatloaf?

Mr. Loaf?

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Does anyone know if a Times reviewer ever referred to Sun Ra, the second time around, as "Mr. Ra"? Also -- and I think this come up elsewhere long ago -- what did they/do you do with Meatloaf?

Mr. Loaf?

Don't let your meat loaf.

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p.s. I still can't get the hang of the 'Mr X...' 'Mr Y...' usage.

Understand your point, but what's the alternative - 'Mengelberg', 'Bennink' or 'Misha', 'Han'?

I guess using last names is the usual thing. Using first names assumes a familiarity. I'm not really bothered by a writer refering to someone as 'Mr.' - nothing wrong with showing respect. I do have to say that I feel odd when someone calls me Mr. Secor. Even at my age, I think of Mr. Secor as my father, not me.

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p.s. I still can't get the hang of the 'Mr X...' 'Mr Y...' usage.

Understand your point, but what's the alternative - 'Mengelberg', 'Bennink' or 'Misha', 'Han'?

I guess using last names is the usual thing. Using first names assumes a familiarity. I'm not really bothered by a writer refering to someone as 'Mr.' - nothing wrong with showing respect. I do have to say that I feel odd when someone calls me Mr. Secor. Even at my age, I think of Mr. Secor as my father, not me.

I've been getting the occasional "Sir" for a few years now. Not too cool with that.

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I tried using "Mr." in an article for the Grand Rapids Press and the editors asked me, "What? Is he DEAD?"

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Does anyone know if a Times reviewer ever referred to Sun Ra, the second time around, as "Mr. Ra"? Also -- and I think this come up elsewhere long ago -- what did they/do you do with Meatloaf?

Mr. Loaf?

Don't they usually give his correct given name (which I am currently forgetting) and then identify him as Mr. [given name] and ignore the Meatloaf moniker entirely?

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I've read that ICP review a couple of times now and i still can't figure out if he liked the show or not. :unsure: Regardless, I may see you there tonight, Adam.

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p.s. I still can't get the hang of the 'Mr X...' 'Mr Y...' usage.

Understand your point, but what's the alternative - 'Mengelberg', 'Bennink' or 'Misha', 'Han'?

I guess using last names is the usual thing. Using first names assumes a familiarity. I'm not really bothered by a writer refering to someone as 'Mr.' - nothing wrong with showing respect. I do have to say that I feel odd when someone calls me Mr. Secor. Even at my age, I think of Mr. Secor as my father, not me.

Likewise, I know what you mean. Part of it simply jars because it's a usage we hardly ever see in the UK, and where it is used, there's often a slightly patronising (etc.) tone employed. So, teacher to pupil, 'So, Mr Secor, this is the second week in a row I haven't seen your homework' type thing!

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Screw the literary questions.

This thread made me dig out a concert recording of the band + guests Lacy and George Lewis (got it a few years ago courtesy of a member) from August of '83. All Herbie Nichols tunes for about an hour. Great stuff. I'd love to hear the band in a club.

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Savor the ICP Orchestra playing Monk's Epistrophy.

Misha Mengelberg-piano / Sean Bergin-alto saxophone / Steve Lacy-soprano saxophone / Michael Moore-alto saxophone / Wolter Wierbos-trombone / Garret List-trombone / Maurice Horsthuis-viola / Ernst Reijseger-cello / Toon de Gouw-trumpet / Paul Termos-alto saxophone / Larry Fishkind-tuba / Han Bennink-percussion.

BUY IT

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They'll be in Seattle tomorrow night at the Asian Art Museum.

I've been looking forward to this all week!

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They'll be in Seattle tomorrow night at the Asian Art Museum.

I've been looking forward to this all week!

I got tickets in my pocket as I type. Can wait! *Han is my hero.

*notice the familiar first name usage. ;)

Edited by Johnny E

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So, this group on the 28th (in Ann Arbor), Pat Martino in Indy on the 29th, and , back in AA, the Either/Orchestra on the 30th. :wacko:

I'm going to try for the first two.

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I know we don't have too many org boarders in Western PA or Ohio/WV area (LWayne, some other dude with a three letter handle who posts very infrequently) but if you're willing to drive, I'm presenting ICP here at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh this Wednesday March 29 with student activities fee money. Thus, NO CHARGE! FREE!

No show in Philly....come to Pittsburgh! I can host a limited number of people at my place.

That's free music for free! :rofl:

For details, PM me.

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I know we don't have too many org boarders in Western PA or Ohio/WV area (LWayne, some other dude with a three letter handle who posts very infrequently) but if you're willing to drive, I'm presenting ICP here at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh this Wednesday March 29 with student activities fee money. Thus, NO CHARGE! FREE!

No show in Philly....come to Pittsburgh! I can host a limited number of people at my place.

That's free music for free! :rofl:

For details, PM me.

That's great!

Last night's show was really good, crowded, friendly, fun. I went up to Mengelberg afterwards to get his autograph, and said "great show." He replied, "Oh, not a great show, but a fair one."

And you know what, as leaving, I realized he was right. Well, I'd say "very good" rather than "fair." They were really good, the playing & coordination & range are all marvelous. But that evening wasn't quite great, or legendary; it didn't quite go to that next level. But damn I want to see them again.

The trombonist Wolter Wierbos is truly fantastic, and brought down the house. One of my friends bought his solo album, and we're looking forward to it. I just bought the two latest ICP albums.

The musicianship is all at the highest level.

Han Bennink told me that he doesn't know how to read music. He certainly had no charts in front of him while everyone else did.

I didn't get the titles, although they did play "Locomotive" (or is it Locomotion?) in the first set, "Zombie Zua" to end the first set, and another great Ellington tune in the second set, and I'm blanking on the title, although it's one of Ellington's most popular tunes.

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Sorry I missed it last night. I was running late and knew i wouldn't have made it across town in time. So we went to see Jon Brion instead at Largo. Not quite as special, but still a fine time was had by all.

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LA Times review:

http://www.calendarlive.com/music/jazz/cl-...ry?coll=cl-jazz

JAZZ REVIEW

Group's efforts at spontaneity don't guarantee combustion

By Don Heckman, Special to The Times

The story "The Emperor's New Clothes" kept coming to mind Friday night during the performance by the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra at Club Tropical. The 10-piece Dutch musical collective led by pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink has gone through various incarnations over three decades in pursuit of the wide-open combination of freedom and spontaneity implied by the ensemble's name.

But freedom, despite Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" line, is more than "just another word for nothin' left to lose." Especially when it comes to improvisation. And the ICP players' performance underscored that there's a great deal left to lose by anyone who approaches improvisation as a license for the creation of what's little more than musical chaos.

The ICP's opening set began as a pair of pieces featuring small ensembles — piano, tenor saxophone and cello, followed by trombone, clarinet and violin. Each juxtaposed the sort of pointillistic bursts and smears of sound often associated — sometimes jokingly — with contemporary concert music against dissonant, apparently composed, tonal clusters. A few showcase solos took off into unrelated, uninteresting musical space.

Several pieces (no titles were provided) took a more mainstream tack, starkly exposing the ensemble's limited formal jazz skills. One, suggesting unfulfilled Thelonious Monk ambitions, cranked forward stiffly, its herky-jerky rhythms revealing no real sense of dynamic swing. Another piece began with a humorous drum-roll count-off before proceeding into a lead-footed jazz march. A third displayed attractive compositional qualities, phrases tossed back and forth among the players.

Much of what the ICP played dated stylistically to American avant-garde jazz of the '60s. But although Mengelberg and Bennink are participatory veterans of the decade, having played with many of the American players who were surfacing in Europe at the time, this ensemble lacks comparable imagination, musicality and articulateness.

Give the ICP points for effort — jazz freedom, spontaneity and instant composition deserve continuing exploration — and a much lower grade for accomplishment.

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I'm not familiar with the writings of Don Heckman, so can anyone that is tell me if he's really as clueless as he seems?

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I'm not familiar with the writings of Don Heckman, so can anyone that is tell me if he's really as clueless as he seems?

:) I agree - it's cute all us Europeans trying to play American music ;)

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