Incipient ICP, 1966-71

Instant Composers Pool

Incipient ICP, 1966-71


The untold early history of Amsterdam's seminal collective. Founded in 1967 by three of European free music's leading lights – pianist Misha Mengelberg, drummer Han Bennink, and saxophonist and clarinetist Willem Breuker – the Instant Composers Pool (ICP) was simply one of the most important vehicles for experimentation and improvisation in the history of creative music. Culling ideas and materials from jazz, modern and contemporary classical music, Fluxus, traditional music from the Balkans and elsewhere, as well as avant-garde theater, ICP was ahead of the pack in numerous ways, presenting a kind of irony-tinged, amalgamated version of free and structured improvisation – or instant composition – that would be a hallmark of subsequent movements in New York's downtown scene and elsewhere in Europe in decades to follow. Based on twenty years of deep research, Incipient ICP (1966-71) picks up the story just before the group's foundation, with previously unreleased recordings of groups led by Mengelberg in 1966, among them a performance of their notorious piece "Viet Cong," with Breuker joining the Mengelberg Quartet. The only tracks in this 2-disc set that have been commercially released – and only on the enormous 53-disc box set – come from studio sessions in 1967, featuring a mid-sized band with German trumpeter Manfred Schoof as special guest. These beautifully recorded tracks suggest the dichotomy between projects led by Mengelberg (two pieces) and those led by Breuker (four pieces), a schism that would grow until Breuker left the band in the mid 1970s to found his own group, the Willem Breuker Kollektief. Three more tracks led by Mengelberg in 1969 feature American keyboardist and composer Frederic Rzewski, as well as an incredible spotlight on Frans Brüggen's unusual amplified double-bass recorder. The final suite comes from a 1971 date led by Breuker, sans Mengelberg and Bennink. Moving more toward his Kolletief concept, Breuker leads a drumless quintet through his own cabaret-inflected pieces – featuring Lodewijk de Boer's hardcore electric viola and brother Peter Bennink's alto and soprano saxophone – as well as Albert Ayler's "Angels." The deluxe package sports contemporaneous photos of the players by Pieter Boersma.

CD 1

1. Session No. 1 (Mengelberg/10:31)
Eddie Engels, trumpet; Alfred Smit, trombone; Theo Loevendie, soprano saxophone; Piet Noordijk, alto saxophone; Willem Brekuer, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Misha Mengelberg, piano; Rob Langereis, bass; Han Bennink, drums. Recorded 1966, pre-ICP.
2. Viet Cong (Mengelberg/11:32)
Willem Breuker, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute; Piet Noordijk, alto saxophone; Misha Mengelberg, piano; Victor Kaihatu, bass; Han Bennink, drums, percussion, swanee whistle. Recorded December 13, 1966, at Misha Mengelberg’s Wessel Ilcken Prize ceremony.
3. Die Berge Schützen die Heimat (Mengelberg/9:06)
4. Jump Italiano (Mengelberg/5:43)
Instant Composers Pool; Manfred Schoof, cornet and flugelhorn; Gilius van Bergeijk, oboe; Theo Loevendie, soprano saxophone; Willem Breuker, bass clarinet, clarinet; Maarten van Regteren Altena, bass; Misha Mengelberg, piano; Han Bennink, drums. Recorded June 19, 1967.
5. Adebar der Geheimnisvolle (Breuker/8:18)
6. Piano Distance (Breuker/5:27)
7. Before Og 15 Kir (Breuker/9:56)
8. September Song (Loevendie/13:12)
Instant Composers Pool; Manfred Schoof, trumpet; Willem Breuker, bass clarinet; Lodewijk de Boer, viola; Hasso van der Westen, viola; Henry Ronde, steel drum; Maarten van Regteren Altena, bass; Arjen Gorter, bass, accordion; Misha Mengelberg, piano, toy instruments; Han Bennink, drums. Recorded July 19 and August 25, 1967.

CD 2

1. HRRG II (Mengelberg/3:38)
2. STCH Shuffle (Mengelberg/3:20)
3. ICP 4 14 Write Your Own Part (Mengelberg/4:52)
Instant Composers Pool; Misha Mengelberg, piano; Frederic Rzewski, electronics, mini tape recorder into megaphone, piano, organ; Willem Breuker, bass clarinet; Peter Bennink, alto & tenor saxophone; Frans Brüggen, amplified double-bass recorder; Willem van Manen, trombone; Bert Koppelaar, trombone; Erik van Lier, bass trombone; Arjen Gorter, bass; Han Bennink, drums, tap dance. Recorded April 14, 1969.
4. Four Tempi Match (Brekuer/4:57)
5. Siep (Sybren Polet) (Brekuer/13:52)
6. New Alto (Breuker/7:07)
7. Angels (Albert Ayler/4:52)
8. Langlauf Song (Breuker/3:06)
9. Trammermusik (Breuker/15:10)
Instant Composers Pool; Willem van Manen, trombone; Peter Bennink, alto and soprano saxophone; Willem Breuker, soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone, clarinet; Lodewijk de Boer, electric viola; Maarten van Regteren Altena, bass. Recorded July 4, 1971, at Theater Hot, Den Haag, Netherlands.

Photos by Pieter Boersma. Design by David Khan-Giordano. Under license from the Instant Composers Pool and Olga Zuiderhoek. Tracks 3-8 on CD 1 first issued as ICP 000 in the 54-disc box set Instant Composers Pool (ICP 1275-1, 2012); tracks 1-3 on CD 2 first issued on The Dutch Jazz Scene (promotional 7-LP box, Radio Nederland, 1969). Remaining tracks previously unissued. Special thanks to Susanna von Canon. Prepared for release by Alex Inglizian, Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago. Design by David Khan-Giordano. Under license from the Instant Composers Pool and Olga Zuiderhoek. Produced by John Corbett.