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Title: Instant Composers Pool Orchestra. You have to see it.
Ton Mijs, photography, Kevin Whitehead, text. 64 pages.
format: 22 x 22 cm.
Weight: about 500 grams.
Some music doesn’t make sense until you see it
"You hear Miles Davis’s ’60s quintet making hairpin turns in performance, all tacking in
a new direction at once, and wonder how they pulled off that miracle. Then you see a
video: duh: he’s giving visual cues. Musicians have been signaling each other on stage
since early jazz and surely before that: a leader points to the next soloist in a string of
improvisations; a horn man points to his own head, to signal a return to the melody.
Musicians communicate with a look, or a shrug, or by holding up a sheet of music paper.
Watching musicians on stage, you also catch more elusive tones and undertones than
recordings alone offer: you perceive the musicians’ demeanor, and how they relate to each other,
and the task before them. I’d heard ICP—the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra—
on record years before ever seeing them. When I finally did see them, the surrealist brew
of their aural collages made much more sense (and made me an instant enthusiast).
Colorful as all the players are, it’s the two outsize personalities there since the beginning
who compete for your attention. Composer and pianist Misha Mengelberg, the orchestra’s
brains, is at stage right. Drummer Han Bennink, ICP’s pulse and spark plug, is at the
center of the band literally and figuratively. those twin tricksters and whimsical swingers
set the tone...."