ICP Orchestra: East of the Sun

Glenn Astarita BY

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Track review of "East of the Sun"

ICP Orchestra: East of the Sun
The Holland-based Instant Composers Pool (ICP) Orchestra has amassed 51 albums since its inception in 1967 and due to health-related issues, legendary co-founder, pianist Misha Mengelberg is unable to perform. But guest artist, pianist Guus Janseen duly integrates his artistry into the orchestra's distinct constitution. And of course inimitable drummer Han Bennink helps support and steer the large ensemble through its perpetually moving currents amid its customary unpredictability and topsy-turvy discourses. As surmised, the artists interconnect free jazz improvisation, folk jazz, March progressions and a horde of scrappy, rough and tumble dialogues, where the strings section either cuts through the jazz manifest with a knife or commingles sanguine and melancholic choruses.

After listening to all the fun, frolic and the artists' expert technical proficiencies, perhaps akin to a theme park joyride, they revisit their roots on the final track "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," composed by Brooks Bowman in 1934, later covered by Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker and other jazz pioneers. They begin on a rambunctious note, not hinting about where they're taking the tune, but kick matters into 10th gear with pumping horns supported by Bennink's bristling swing pulse and the frontline's sweet-tempered overtures.

The hornists and strings performers engage in bursting call and response episodes, followed by the tenor saxophonists' rangy incursions and Mary Oliver's old school type violin solo, sparking remembrances of influential trad-jazz violin great, Joe Venuti. Ultimately, the musicians work the mainstream component into the mix, but a few bars of jittery horns phrasings and other minor deviations prevent this piece from becoming a blatant or standard reworking of the original. Indeed, ICP Orchestra's resourcefulness is shaped by a host of unforeseen surprises; penetrating improvisational workouts, satirical interludes, and inspiring teamwork.

Track Listing


Michael Moore clarinet: alto sax; Ab Baars clarinet, tenor sax; Tobias Delius: clarinet tenor sax; Wolter Wierbos: trombone; Thomas Heberer: cornet; Mary Oliver: violin, viola, vocals; Tristan Honsinger: cello, vocals; Ernst Glerum: bass, announcements; Guus Janssen: piano, organ; Han Bennink drums, vocals.

Album information

Title: East of the Sun | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ICP

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