On Thursday, April 7 the Dutch-American-German (and mostly Amsterdam-based) collective the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra will be performing in Austin at the AAMP space, 411 West Monroe. The last time I saw the ICP Orchestra play was during my first semester in graduate school at the University of Texas; that was five years ago and it was stunning. I’d seen them a few times before in Chicago, and the results were usually strong, but being in a new city and experiencing the vitality of something both familiar and exciting was a special and comforting introduction to Austin’s fine track record for improvised music performance. Tonight I’ll be doing the second of two programs dedicated to ICP-related music on KOOP; you can also look forward to a review of ICP 049, the latest orchestra disc, at the Austinist this week. Hopefully an interview with orchestra drummer Han Bennink will also be part of this extravaganza.
Dutch jazz has fascinated me for a long time, although chiefly from a historical perspective (regionalism doesn't mean now what it did then) – the great recordings of Hans Dulfer’s Afro-Cuban ensembles, Theo Loevendie’s North African-inspired orchestras and small groups, trumpeter, pianist and composer Nedley Elstak, multi-instrumentalist and zoologist Kees Hazevoet, the straight-ahead players like Rein de Graaff (piano) and Wim Overgaauw (guitar), the ICP and the Willem Breuker axis. Primarily focused on the ICP end of things, Kevin Whitehead’s New Dutch Swing is essential reading, though it doesn’t grant quite as much information on other jazz activities in Holland during the Sixties and Seventies. Of course, for many people the tension between subversive humor and artful subtlety (interpretations of Ellingtonia, Monk, and Herbie Nichols), alongside more open improvisation, is what makes the ICP’s music quintessentially “Dutch.” Indeed, they are the ambassadors of Dutch jazz to the rest of the world. Though parallel to the absurdist classicism of the Willem Breuker Kollektief, that breed of Dutch music has been only one part of the landscape, with quirky post-bop, Afro-Caribbean influences and full-on free jazz being of equal interest. There was some cross-pollination – I have a radio recording of the ICP Orchestra performing one of Loevendie’s great, Arabic minimalist pieces, for example. But while the performances of the ICP Orchestra in the States this week will be inspiring and delightful in their own way, I hope that listeners and experiencers are spurred on to investigate other aspects of Dutch jazz, both historical and of the present day.
Here is the Facebook invite for the Austin performance.
Visit the ICP Orchestra website here.
Some rare Dutch jazz LP covers are viewable here, at the great Birka Jazz covers resource.