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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Instant Composers Pool Update

Instant Composers Pool galore 

By Stef Gijssels

In the slipstream of the article on Thomas Heberer, I will add this quick overview of recent ICP Orchestra Releases, on which the German trumpeter has been a member for many decades. 

The Instant Composers' Pool (ICP) was founded in 1967 by Willem Breuker on saxes, Misha Mengelberg on piano and Han Bennink on drums. The trio shared a good musical education with a common aversion to conformity and reproducing what others had composed. They found each other in a new way of making music, full of spontaneity, improvisation and daring explorations. They did not reject tradition completely. Musicians like Herbie Nichols, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk were often the subject of projects that the band set up. 

When Breuker left the band in 1974, Mengelberg and Bennink continued with the ensemble, making it a loose gathering of like-minded musicians, which means that over the years, the line-up and the music was very much open to change. 

After the death of Mengelberg in 2017, the current core line-up consists of 

  • Guus Janssen on piano
  • Han Bennink on drums 
  • Thomas Heberer on trumpet 
  • Wolter Wierbos on trombone 
  • Michael Moore on alto saxophone, clarinet 
  • Ab Baars on clarinet, tenor saxophone 
  • Tobias Delias on clarinet, tenor saxophone
  • Tristan Honsinger on cello 
  • Ernst Glerum on bass 
  • Mary Oliver on violin
... even if that may change, depending on other visiting artists or bands. 

Especially in the early years, other icons of improvised music such as Peter Brötzman, Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd performed with them, to name just a few. 

Despite their origin in "instant composition", most of the music sounds very organised and structured today, moving from classical jazz to avant-garde classical (the strings) to improvised music. The eclecticism of the ensemble is only possible thanks to the skills and versatility of the musicians who appear to feel at home in any musical context. It determines the wealth and richness of the sound. And then there's of course Han Bennink to keep things fun and unexpected. 

The ICP Orchestra produced and released so many albums in the past few years, that it's hard to keep up with. Most albums are available on Bandcamp. 

Here is the list in anti-chronological order : 
  • ICP 30 Year Jubileum, 1997 Day 1 (ICP Orchestra, 2022)
  • ICP 30 Year Jubileum, 1997 Day 2 (ICP Orchestra, 2022)
  • ICP 30 Year Jubileum, 1997 Day 3 (ICP Orchestra, 2022)
  • Instant Composers Pool – Incipient ICP (1966-71) (Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2021) (without Heberer)
  • ICP Orchestra - Pletterij Nl. 10 September 2021 (ICP, 2021)
  • ICP Septet + Joris Roelofs + Terrie Ex - Komen & Gaan (ICP, 2021) (without Heberer)
  • Instant Composers Pool & Nieuw Amsterdams Peil – De Hondemepper (2020)
  • ICP Orchestra – ICP Orchestra In Toronto: The Music Gallery, 2003 (2020)
  • ICP Orchestra – ICP Live In Ljubljana 02 July 2005 (2020)
  • ICP Orchestra ‎– Plays Herbie Nichols (In Nijmegen 7 May 1984) (ICP, 2020) (without Heberer)
  • ICP Orchestra – ICP Orchestra In Seattle: The Royal Room, Set 1 May 16th 2015 (2019)
  • ICP Orchestra – ICP Orchestra In Seattle: The Royal Room, Set 2 May 16th 2015 (2019)
  • ICP Orchestra – ICP Orchestra in Albuquerque: The Outpost Performance Space, March 17th, 2003 (2019)

Watch a performance from 2021 at the Bimhuis in the Netherlands


Thomas Heberer said...

Hi Stef, thank you for the excellent new reviews of ICP, the Heberer 4tet and the Nu Band. A correction: The current line-up of ICP is slightly different than indicated; since 2004 Tobias Delias has been with us on tenor sax and clarinet; Ernst Reijseger left the ICP Orchestra around 2000.

Big hugs, Thomas