Misha Mengelberg: More than Instant Composition
Mengelberg and Bennink were, in 1964, part of the backing group for Eric Dolphy's final studio recording, issued as Last Date (Fontana). In addition to music by Dolphy and Monk, Mengelberg contributed the composition "Hypochristmutreefuzz to the proceedings, a notoriously difficult piece with extraordinarily long intervals. "I knew he would not have enough breath to play the theme through [without circular breathing] and I thought it was funny, but for somebody who was going to die the next week maybe it wasn't right to make fun like that.
Mengelberg and Bennink were the instigators of a relatively subversive but rarely discussed small group active in Holland from 1964 to 1967. With altoist Piet Noordijk and bassist Rob Langreis, the Misha Mengelberg Kwartet toured Europe and, interestingly, played the Newport Jazz Festival in 1966 (the concert was later released by the Dutch label Artone). In 1967, Mengelberg, Bennink and reedman Willem Breuker formed the Instant Composers Pool, a loose collective of free improvisers rooted in the idea that improvisation is "instant composition , utilizing one's existing compositional knowledge to inform improvisation as well as improvisation directing the formation of composition, all in direct physical response to internal and external stimuli. Trombonist Willem van Manen, bassist Maarten Altena and altoist Peter Bennink were early collaborators, though the loose organization began to include a significant slice of the prevailing European avant-garde (including at various points Peter Brötzmann, John Tchicai and Derek Bailey). Though Breuker and his camp officially split from the ICP in the early '70s, forming the Willem Breuker Kollektief and BVHaast Records, the ICP continued as an orchestra and various aggregations, as well as the record label that in 1967 heralded the organization. The orchestra, though touring only occasionally, remains one of the most active big bands of the last 30 years, performing Mengelberg's often highly theatrical situations as well as pieces by Herbie Nichols and members of the group, which today includes reedmen Ab Baars and Tobias Delius, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, trumpeter Thomas Heberer, cellist Tristan Honsinger, bassist Ernest Glerum and violinist Mary Oliver in addition to Mengelberg and Bennink.