ICP Orchestra

Instant Composer's Pool

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This double album is one of the landmarks of the Dutch free jazz genre, possibly as important to that country as old gouda cheese and windmills. Packaged in a round box with plush on the sides, it is such a sweet thing to look at that a desperate character attempting to sell every album in his collection was handed this one back by the magistrate of the used record pile with these words of advice: "No matter what I gave you for this, you'd be cheated. Hold on to it. Hold on to any record that comes in a round cover." However, any discussion of this album's fine packaging should also ask the important question: Why is the back cover a photograph of a radiator and a speaker box? This must have been taken in the living room of someone with important connections to this project. Perhaps Willem Breuker, who did all the composing and arranging, plays ferocious sax, and may have even been at his best on early albums such as this, depending on personal taste or which jazz critics one obeys. Or it could have been Han Bennink, the brilliant drummer and crazed showman who as always provides some tremendous moments of imagination, although sometimes all he does is kick the beat perfectly, just like the drummer in the band is supposed to. The Instant Composer's Pool is both an organization and a group with its own label and a history in do-it-yourself productions going back to the early days of the Dutch free jazz scene. This group does not always play just the compositions of Breuker. Sometimes ICP presents programs by pianist Misha Mengelberg, who makes an appearance on one track here. The impression one would get from this collection, though, is that ICP is anything anyone says it is. One track features a mandolin orchestra. Is this also the ICP? Many of the same musicians are featured throughout, but there are also some cameos from the likes of alto saxophonist John Tchicai and even a brief outtake from one of composer and multi-instrumentalist Gunter Hampel's best recording sessions. Intriguing instrumental combinations, energetic playing, and -- best of all -- hilarity abound. A few tracks have been re-released on various Breuker collections by the BVHaast label.

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