Tai Chi and Circling Peacocks: The Instant Composers Pool Orchestra

Instant Composers Pool Video created & directed by Barbara Hin & Martin van der Veen

Catching a train. Riding an elevator. Stepping in a puddle. Doing Tai Chi in an alley while being circled by a peacock. These are all activities we engage in on a daily basis and never associate with creative or artistic acts. Those boundaries are programmed into our brains from day one. Being measured for a suit, trimming your sideburns, removing a bathing cap from a violin case (where you also stash a large kitchen knife)? Again, all examples of boring ho-hum daily actions that barely keep us distinct as humans from the primates, right?

Of course not! As Han Bennink, drummer and one of the founding members of Netherlands' Instant Composers Pool Orchestra (aka ICP Orchestra), says "Improvising is like everyday life, it's like crossing the street." The video above, featuring the current members of the ICP, a team of synchronized swimmers, and a soundtrack from the ensemble, is a great introduction to the philosophy summed up in Bennink's statement. You've seen the video! Now - you can see the ICP Orchestra in action LIVE thanks to Houston's own Nameless Sound .

Next Friday (April 8) the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra will present an evening of their highly developed musical madness, which can include classic jazz standards (Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols are two composers in the ICP Orchestra's repertoire) as well as moments of improvised theater reminiscent of Artaud's theater of cruelty or the Big Apple Circus.

As accomplished musicians with a passion for the visual and theatrical, the ICP Orchestra continues to navigate the realms explored by fellow travelers the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, and/or London's Spontaneous Music Ensemble. The spirit of Dada and Fluxus flows through the ICP Orchestra in their playing and presentation, bringing a healthy spirit of irreverence to an activity each member obviously reveres (i.e. creating music).

They baffle the most astute of musicians outside of their collective - trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas admits that the first question that comes to mind whenever he hears the ICP Orchestra is "How do they do that?" Somehow, the group makes the experience of being baffled fun. You know those boring as hell "big bands" that play the repertoire of a great composer like Duke Ellington without any sense of the creative fire and exploratory spirit that inspired the birth of that music in the first place? Well that's is NOT what the ICP Orchestra does.

Now take a look behind you. Is that a peacock stalking you?

Orchestra members are Misha Mengelberg (piano), Han Bennink (drums), Ab Baars (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Tobias Delius (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Ernst Glerum (bass), Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Michael Moore (alto saxophone, clarinet), Mary Oliver (violin), and Wolter Wierbos (trombone).

The ICP Orchestra plays Friday, April 8, 2011, 8 p.m, at the Historic Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin. $13 General, $10 Students. Everyone under 18 gets in for free. More information and online tickets are available at

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Chris Becker
Contact: Chris Becker