Tuesday, April 09, 2013

An ICP Weekend

The Instant Composers Pool (ICP) Orchestra have been in town this weekend - there has been plenty to keep me busy.
ICP Orchestra

Saturday night was the much anticipated opening of Constellation - Chicago's latest venue for creative music and the arts. A full house (not sure the exact number but there were more than 120 people) was on hand for the ICP Orchestra - Han Bennink (d) Tobius Delius (ts/cl) Michael Moore (as/cl) Ab Baars (ts/cl) Wolter Wierbos (trb) Thomas Herberer (trpt) Mary Oliver (Violin/Viola) Tristan Hosinger (cello) Ernst Glerum (b). The space got a real workout with everything from solo drums through to the 9-piece group in full roar with plenty of other combinations in between - one of the great things with the ICP Orchestra is that throughout a performance the group breaks down into various duos/trios/quartets etc - don't expect your typical large ensemble gig. From where I was sitting the sound was nice - perhaps some definition was lost when the full group opened up but nothing too major. My third time hearing them live and each time has been a rewarding experience. A very fitting group to open the venue.

Sunday was particularly busy...
First up was Ab Baars playing an afternoon solo set at Corbett vs Dempsey. A modest crowd (a little over 30... I was expecting more) were nestled amongst the glass sculptures of David Hartt's "For Everyone A Garden". Half a dozen pieces - free improvisations and his own
compositions played on Tenor Sax, Clarinet and Shakuhachi. A powerful, full-throttle sound on both tenor and clarinet Baars leapt between dynamic levels with great effect. He exploited the live acoustic of the gallery nicely too - intense high register notes bouncing around your head. I enjoyed his presentation too: relaxed and with some humour he gave the pieces a little background - tunes inspired by/dedicated to John Carter, Misha Mengelberg, and Sidney Bechet. In the case of Bechet he mentioned an Evan Parker interview in which he related the story of Bechet practicing scales/long tones (all the usual saxophonic things) and then finishing off by exploring the instrument creating animal sounds etc. When as why he did it Bechet replied he was contemplating the nature of sound and music - What is music? What is sound? ... I must track down that Parker interview.
Baars finished off with a piece of his titled "Von" - a tribute to tenorist Von Freeman. I have enjoyed both concerts I have attended at Corbett vs Dempsey - nice, relaxed atmosphere, with a audience keen to listen and plenty of warmth from the gallery owners. Looking forward to Ned Rothenberg there this weekend.

ICP meets Links Hall at Constellation
That evening it was back out to Constellation. This time members of the ICP where performing with dancers from Links Hall dance company. The set could be divided into 3rds - first up Han Bennink (perc) Mary Oliver (Viola/violin) and dancers Lisa Gonzalles & Julie Ann Graham. Followed by Michael Moore (clar) Tristan Honsinger (Cello) and dancers Taisha Paggett & Travis Robb. Ending with both groups sharing the stage. Quite a contrast between the two groups - the unpredictability of the first and the continuity of the second. Not as packed out as the previous night - 50 or so there at a guess.

I had the added bonus of getting there nice and early - sitting by the door listening to Han Bennink warm up with brushes on snare. Michael Moore joined in on clarinet for an informal duo too - sweet.

I look forward to getting back to Constellation - Roscoe Mitchell is there in a couple of weeks but I may be out of town for Joe McPhee & Peter Brotzmann in J
une... need to double check my calendar. If you are in Chicago be sure to check out there performance calendar.
Set 1 Hungry Brain April 7 2013

Following that it was off to the Hungry Brain (just around the corner) for Sunday night sets presented by Umbrella Music. Two quartets mixing the ICP with Chicagoans:

Set 1: Thomas Heberer (trpt) Ernst Glerum (b) Tomeka Reid (cello) Jason Stein (B.Clar)

Set 2: Toby Delius (ts/clar) Wolter Weirbos (trb) Nate McBride (b) Michael Zerang (d)
Set 2 Hungry Brain April 7 2013

Whilst both sets had their moments I wasn't as into it as I would have liked - perhaps I ears needed a break! I'm still glad I got along to it though. Sitting next to Han Bennink added to the experience - shouts of approval, percussive stamps of the feet, and grunts of disapproval - the only person who can get away with talking through a set at the Brain??

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