Wednesday, May 06, 2015

ICP Orchestra at Constellation

ICP Orchestra Constellation ChicagoThe ICP Orchestra was in town Saturday thru Monday, although prior commitments meant I could only get along to the opening concert of their tour of the United States on Saturday night (May 2) at Constellation. I've heard them live a few times now and have come to expect it to be an excellent night of music - they did not disappoint.

There's always plenty of variety in a set from the ICP. Moments of free improvisations, interludes from small ensembles leading into the full band, fun,  classic swing (Michael Moore provided a great arrangement of "Moten Swing"), Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk (arrangements of "Blue Chopsticks" & "Jackie-ing" by Mengelberg) and originals from the band members including Ab Baars and Tristan Honsinger as well as ICP co-founder Misha Mengelberg (the piano stool is now filled by Guus Janssen).

ICP Orchestra Constellation ChicagoEveryone in the group has room to move and here are some scribbles from my notebook. A very cohesive improvisation from the string section as the intro a tune from Baars. "'Round Midnight" was a great feature for Tobias Delius' tenor. Thomas Heberer's cornet tone makes me want to check out his work in other settings. Moore and Baar's joint solo chorus on "Moten Swing" was lovely and the ensemble horn parts sounded tight.

I jump at the chance to hear Han Bennink. He deserves extra credit for having flown in from Greece that afternoon and still swinging up a storm at age 73. His "antics" (see left) get plenty of attention but I dig his playing (even when he's playing on the floor) in addition to being a creative soloist and accompanist, he can really lay down a groove. It's kind of an "old fashioned" groove that oozes swing and personality yet it never feels dated to me.

If there was one minor quibble, it was that they only played one set. But I would prefer to hear once excellent set than a multiple average sets!
Following the gig I picked up their latest release East of the Sun which I have on as I write, and I 'm looking forward to giving it plenty of spins in the future.

For those of you in (or visiting) Chicago, make sure you get along to Constellation - it's a fantastic venue with excellent programming.
ICP Orchestra Constellation Chicago
ICP Orchestra Constellation Chicago

ICP Orchestra Constellation Chicago

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