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Instant Composers Pool


1967 - current


improvised, jazz


Officiële website

Instant Composers Pool

The Instant Composers Pool is founded by reed player Willem Breuker (Amsterdam, 4 November 1944), drummer Han Bennink (Zaandam, 17 April 1942) and pianist Misha Mengelberg (Kiev, Russia, 5 June 1935) in 1967. The organization, which calls itself 'musical-political' in its manifesto, runs a record label and organizes concerts ...
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Thomas Heberer   trompet
Wolter Wierbos   trombone
Michael Moore   altsaxofoon, basklarinet, klarinet
Ab Baars   klarinet, tenorsaxofoon
Tobias Delius   klarinet, tenorsaxofoon
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Mentioned in the biography of

1967   Han Bennink
1971   Misha Mengelberg
1975   Michel Waisvisz
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Biography Instant Composers Pool

The Instant Composers Pool is founded by reed player Willem Breuker (Amsterdam, 4 November 1944), drummer Han Bennink (Zaandam, 17 April 1942) and pianist Misha Mengelberg (Kiev, Russia, 5 June 1935) in 1967. The organization, which calls itself 'musical-political' in its manifesto, runs a record label and organizes concerts for the groups of all its participants (although rarely all three at the same time), with a variety of other musical participants. The ICP also engages in musical theater, sometimes in collaboration with theatermaker Wim T. Schippers. When Willem Breuker leaves the ICP in 1974, Mengelberg and Bennink continue. They sometimes assemble large groups with Dutch, European and American improvisers. Besides Mengelberg Bennink is the only constant in these ICP-ensembles. But under Mengelberg's musical leadership the line-up eventually consolidates more and more. At the time of the projects concerning the compositions of Herbie Nichols (1984), Thelonious Monk (1986) and Duke Ellington (1990) the regular members of the current line-up all join, usually at Bennink's invitation or recommendation.


The Misja Mengelberg Quartet (as was the 'progressive' spelling of his Christian name at the time) changes once and for all when alto saxophonist Piet Noordijk and bassist Rob Langereis leave the group. They don't agree with the new musical direction Mengelberg wants to take, and they are not happy with the new reed player the pianist has taken into the group: Willem Breuker. Maarten van Regteren Altena is the new bassist, and the group concentrates more and more on (free) improvisation. In June 1967 the new quartet performs at the Antibes/Juan-les-Pins Festival in the south of France. The concert doesn't go down well with the audience and a large part of the press. In this period Bennink and Breuker often perform together, as the New Acoustic Swing Duo. They want to make a record which they can sell at concerts, and produce it themselves. The catalog number is ICP 001, and the Instant Composers Pool is born. 'Then I too am part of ICP”, says Mengelberg (quoted in The Instant Composers Pool 30 Years). In the founding manifesto the ICP calls itself a 'socio-professional interest group of musicians who are involved in the development of instrumental improvisation' (quoted by Buzelin). Mengelberg puts it like this in the same manifesto: 'ICP is a musico-political organization first and foremost. We want to practice politics. The improvised music we make is a completely new phenomenon in Europe. It places itself outside, or on the edge of what people call “culture”.' The name Instant Composers Pool is used for groups with variable personnel, with Mengelberg and Bennink as core members (sometimes with, but more often without Breuker). Other early sparring partners are the English guitarist Derek Bailey and the Danish-Congolese saxophonist John Tchicai.


The ICP presents its first musical theater production, Het Leven van Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (The Life of WA Mozart), written by Breuker, in which Mengelberg is cast in the lead, and Bennink in the role of his father Leopold. The piece is based on a comic book about the life of the composer (given away free with a jar of instant coffee); projections of pictures from the comic book form the backdrop. The work is performed twice: in the Kleine Zaal (small hall) of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and in the Rotterdam Doelen. Photographer Pieter Boersma acts as producer, and takes care of the projections.


In Rotterdam a group performs which gives a good idea of the international ensembles from the early ICP days. In addition to Bennink and Mengelberg the ensemble on the LP Groupcomposing features Han's brother Peter Bennink (alto sax and bagpipes), the Englishmen Evan Parker (saxophones), Derek Bailey (guitar) and Paul Rutherford (trombone), and the German reedist Peter Brötzmann.


The first eponymous duo LP by Mengelberg and Bennink is released on the ICP label. It is a line-up they have often tried (sometimes compelled by need, because Breuker refuses to collaborate) and will often continue to use. ICP 013 is also a duo record, which they put out on six flexidiscs in 1972, entitled Een Mirakelse Tocht Door Het Scharrebroekse (A Miraculous Tour Through Scharrenbroek and Surroundings). In 1973 Mengelberg writes the composition Met Welbeleefde Groet Van De Kameel (With Sincerest Regards From The Camel). In this he makes a 'camel' out of the remains of a sawed-up kitchen chair. It is intended as a concept-art piece. In 2005 the ensemble performs the piece again at the Amsterdam Bimhuis, with the American reedist Anthony Braxton as a special guest. Film footage finds its way onto the DVD Afijn, as one of the extra features to go with the documentary on Misha Mengelberg. In the Amsterdam theater De Brakke Grond the ICP presents Mengelberg's Hé, Hé, Hé, Waar Is De Marechaussee ('Hey, Hey, Hey, Where's the Military Police?'; subtitled 'Melodrama for an Actor and At Least Two Improvising Musicians') in October 1973.


Breuker, who has never seen eye to eye musically with Mengelberg, leaves the ICP (for personal, musical and financial reasons) and starts his own Willem Breuker Kollektief. Maarten van Regteren Altena stays on with the ICP and in addition to doing concerts with his companions he also focuses on solo concerts and line-ups with other string players, such as violist Maurice Horsthuis and cellist Tristan Honsinger. The Han & Misha duo can be heard on the LP EinePartieTischTennis, released in collaboration with the German independent label FMP. A year later the twosome releases their double cassette Coincidents. Together with artist-theatermaker Wim T. Schippers the ICP performs the musical theater piece Bugpeh Expé at the Amsterdam Mickery Theater. Until 1982 the collaboration with Schippers is an annual event, delivering titles like Een Behoorlijk Kabaal, De Donkere Dagen Voor Kerst, Rodoplho, Een Tevreden (Ook Beide), Soiree Soiree, Kwalen Des Tijds, Tafelhoofdpijn and Gevolgen Van Kip.


The Instant Composers Pool increasingly performs as a large ensemble. The reed section features mainstays Peter Bennink, John Tchicai and Peter Brötzmann, as well as the Ukrainian American Keshavan Maslak, Gilius van Bergeijk (oboe), the classical saxophonist Ed Boogaard, and Sean Bergin who has come from South Africa by way of England. The trombonists Bert Koppelaar and Radu Malfatti, cellist Tristan Honsinger and crackle box player Michel Waisvisz are also regulars in ICP performances in this period. The LP's Tetteretet and In Berlin (on the FMP label) give an idea of what the band sounded like.


At the Cremona Festival the ICP performs with an almost completely Italian line-up. The Mengelberg-Fishkind-Bennink trio is extended with horn players like trumpeter Enrico Rava, trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini and reedist Gianluigi Trovesi. The ICP label and the Italian label AdLib release the recordings on the LP Live Soncino. In 1980 Mengelberg takes the young trombonist Wolter Wierbos into the orchestra. The following new recruits are the American reedist Michael Moore and violist Maurice Horsthuis. The line-up seems to take on a more steady shape, and now also includes trombonist Joep Maessen and Peter Brötzmann. In 1982 the Instant Composers Pool tours Japan. The LP Japan Japon serves as an account of the music, with the Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo as a guest. Back in the Netherlands Mengelberg performs his opera parody Een Pond Verloren Tijd (A Pound of Lost Time) with members of the ICP and guests (including Derek Bailey and the classical singers Max Weegberg and Ronda Liss). In 1983 cellist Ernst Reijseger joins the band.


Misha Mengelberg shows his arranging qualities in the Herbie Nichols project. A twelve piece ICP interprets the music of Herbie Nichols (1919-1963), an American pianist and composer much admired by Mengelberg. Dick Lucas records two of the concerts (in Utrecht and Rotterdam), which are released on cassette under the title Extension Red, White & Blue. In the line-up the name of soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy stands out. Like Mengelberg he is also a Nichols follower. Both can be heard on the quintet album Regeneration (featuring Bennink, trombonist Roswell Rudd and bassist Kent Carter, 1982), and on Change Of Season (featuring trombonist George Lewis and bassist Arjen Gorter, 1984) with music by Nichols and Monk. Trumpeter Toon de Gouw and trombonist Garrett List complete the brass section with Wierbos, but don't stay on after the project. Alto saxophonist Paul Termos does become a regular member.


After the Nichols project Mengelberg takes on a new program featuring the music of another favorite pianist-composer: Thelonious Monk. A new face in the ensemble is saxophonist-clarinetist Ab Baars, who takes Paul Termos's place. Larry Fishkind leaves the group, and Reijseger takes on the bass parts, until Ernst Glerum joins in 1987. Thus the entire Amsterdam String Trio now forms the ICP's string section, but Horsthuis leaves the band soon after. Mengelberg looks for a string replacement, which he initially finds in violinist Maartje ten Hoorn, who stays in the ensemble until 1993.


Again Mengelberg takes it on him to rearrange the music of one of his favorite composers: Duke Ellington. For this purpose he takes another trumpeter into the band: Evert Hekkema. But like De Gouw in the Nichols project Hekkema's role remains that of a guest. The Ellington repertoire can be heard on two CDs, entitled Bospaadje Konijnehol I & II (Forest Path Rabbit Hole). The other repertoire on the two records include the suite De Purperen Sofa (The Purple Sofa) from 1986, plus more recent works like the K-stukken (K-pieces) and Tegenstroom (Countercurrent). Late 1991 the personnel once again includes Tristan Honsinger's name.


In the German Thomas Heberer Mengelberg has finally found his regular trumpeter. The new line-up with Heberer and mainstays Moore, Baars, Wierbos, Reijseger, Honsinger, Glerum, Mengelberg and Bennink, makes two live recordings (in Zürich and Middelburg) for a new CD on the Swiss hatOLOGY label: Jubilee Varia.


Ernst Reijseger leaves the group. For a while he is not replaced, until the American violinist Mary Oliver completes the string section after a two year vacancy. With this new line-up the orchestra records the CD Oh, My Dog in 2001, the first album on the band's own label in ten years. Three years later Aan & Uit (On & Off) is to follow, which has a new band member: tenor saxophonist-clarinetist Tobias Delius. With the same personnel the ICP Orchestra also records Weer Is Een Dag Voorbij (Again a Day Has Gone By).

2007 - 2011

Members of the ICP Orchestra (Baars, Honsinger, Mengelberg, Bennink) record the CD Circus with the Italian singer Alessandra Patrucco, which is released by the ICP label. On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary the American trumpeter Dave Douglas invites the ICP Orchestra for a series of master classes at the conservatory in the Canadian town of Banff. The orchestra also records a new live CD at the Amsterdam Bimhuis, which is released under the simple title Live At The Bimhuis. In September 2009 the group does a four day stint at the Bimhuis, recordings from those concerts are issued in 2010 on the CD ICP (049) Orchestra and the vinyl-only release ICP !050! The next year the photobook You Have To See It is released, containing portraits of the band by Ton Mijs (pictures) and Kevin Whitehead (text).

Discography Instant Composers Pool

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

Photos Instant Composers Pool

Audio/Video Instant Composers Pool

Video Instant Composers Pool

Slotmanifestatie Holland ...
Slotmanifestatie Holland Festival (1973)
ICP Orchestra - STEIGERPI...
ICP Orchestra - STEIGERPIJP (music video)
ICP Orchestra speelt Broz...
ICP Orchestra speelt Brozziman
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ICP Orchestra speelt Brozziman

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