Reviews that mention Misha Mengelberg

October 13, 2019

ICP 10-tet

Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsD CD 060


Day Two

NoBusiness Records CD 114

Jimmy Giuffe3

Graz Live 1961

ezz-thetics 1001

Keith Tippett

The Unlonely Raindancer

Discus 81 CD

Sounds of Liberation

Sounds of Liberation

Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsD CD 057

Something in the Air: Reassessing 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Jazz through via New Reissues

By Ken Waxman

Reissues of recorded music serve a variety of functions. Allowing us to experience sounds from the past is just one of them. More crucially, and this is especially important in terms of Free Jazz and Free Music, it restores to circulation sounds that were overlooked and/or spottily distributed on first appearance. Listening to those projects now not only provides an alternate view of musical history, but in many cases also provides a fuller understanding of music’s past. MORE

February 6, 2019

Instant Composers Pool

Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsDCD056

Milford Graves


Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsDCD052

Roscoe Mitchell


Delmark DE 4408

Bobby Naughton/Leo Smith/Perry Robinson

The Haunt

NoBusiness Records NBCD 105

Cosmic Forest

The Spiritual Sounds of MPS

MPS 4029759122562

Something in the Air: CD Reissues help define the massive musical changes of the 1960s and 1970s

By Ken Waxman

As the advances musical and otherwise that transformed the 1960s and 1970s recede into history new considerations of what happened during those turbulent times continually appear. Reissues of advanced music recorded during that time, some needlessly obscure, some better known, help fill in the details of exactly what happened. MORE

March 22, 2016

Microgroove: Forays into Other Music

John Corbett
Duke University Press

By Ken Waxman

Searching for the equivalent of a travel guide to the often uncharted territories of turn-of-the-century, so-called other music should lead to this volume. A collection of essays, interviews and reviews written between 1990 and 2014, Microgroove outlines the achievements of many of the progenitors and disseminators of non-mainstream music during that epoch. A Chicago-based music writer, concert promoter, art curator and record producer, John Corbett has been intimately involved with variants of what he describes as “music that demands a different mode of listening” for decades. Like an embedded anthropologist studying the culture of particular tribes Corbett is also able to place these sonic advances in a global context. MORE

May 7, 2015

Misha Mengelberg/Dirk Bell/Ryan Carniaux/Gerd Dudek/Jocha Oetz/Nils Tegen

Nemu Records 014

By Ken Waxman

With Dutch pianist, composer and ICP Orchestra founder Misha Mengelberg now sidelined with advanced Alzheimer’s and unable to perform, new example of his work become more precious. This nearly 80 minute) 2011 ad-hoc session from Cologne with his contemporary –tenor saxophonist Gerd Dudek – plus a band of younger players – trumpeter Ryan Carniaux, guitarist Dirk Bell, bassist Jocha Oetz and drummer Nils Tegen – takes on added resonance. Yet until the sextet loosens up enough to slide into freer territory, the disc is more Misha-lite than expected. MORE

February 6, 2015

DVD Focus:

Misha Mengelberg (ICP 044/Data Images 03)

Contrary, brilliant, lazy, disruptive, complacent are all adjective applied to , pianist/bandleader/composer Misha Mengelberg who has defined the Dutch style of improvisation or so-called instant composing since its late 1960s birth. Afijn is a masterful portrait of the man, edited and directed by Jellie Dekker. Interspaced with views on the cunning and mischievous pianist from musicians ranging from long-time partner, drummer Han Bennink (who says he started playing solo because “Misha never showed up for the first set”) to trumpeter Dave Douglas, plus friends, students and associates, as well as interviews with the subject himself done over many years A piano autodidact, who then studied and later taught at the conservatory, because of his unique playing style and early involvement in anti-establishment theatre productions, Mengelberg was controversial enough so that there is filmed footage of him almost from the beginning of his career. Afijn includes archival shots of the sardonic pianist, ever-present cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth, in small groups with Bennink and others plus various incarnation of the ICP Orchestra, which the pianist, drummer and reedist Willem Breuker founded. MORE

October 7, 2012

Lest We Forget

Willem Breuker (1944-2010)
By Ken Waxman

The blend of anarchism, precision and humor suggested by Willem Breuker Kollektief (WBK), the name of the ensemble the Dutch saxophonist/composer led for 36 years until his death from lung cancer on July 23, 2010, underlined the fascinating contradictions in his music. A collective has everyone on equal footing no matter how skilled, yet this Kollektief had Breuker as the undisputed boss of a group of first-class soloists. Furthermore the sly joke in this wordplay was also reflected in the WBK’s on-stage horseplay. Breuker not only ensured that the unmistakable modern jazz played included themes by notated composers such as Kurt Weill and George Gershwin, but also a large helping of physical and instrumental comedy that might culminate in the vocalizing of a ’20 ditty like “Yes We Have No Bananas”. MORE

February 22, 2011

ICP Orchestra

ICP 049

The Either/Orchestra

Mood Music for Time Travellers

Accurate 3285

Keeping a musical ensemble together for any length of time is an accomplishment. When it’s a 10 piece Improvised Music group, and the period is a quarter century, the achievement is even more remarkable. But that’s what Mood Music for Time Travellers celebrates: the 25th anniversary of the Massachusetts-based Either/Orchestra (EO). The EO’s potent mix of Jazz, Rock, Funk and more recently African influences, makes it unique among most American Jazz groups. MORE

February 1, 2010


Wig 16

Han Bennink Trio


ILK 156 CD

Drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Megelberg have been the odd couple of improvised music in the Netherlands for a half century. Stalwarts of Amsterdam’s long-constituted ICP Orchestra for almost that long, they have also been affiliated in a variety of bands with many estimable improvisers from both sides of the Atlantic. Still, the drummer and pianist are the classic confirmation of the expression opposites attracts. MORE

February 1, 2010

Han Bennink Trio

ILK 156 CD



Wig 16

Drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Megelberg have been the odd couple of improvised music in the Netherlands for a half century. Stalwarts of Amsterdam’s long-constituted ICP Orchestra for almost that long, they have also been affiliated in a variety of bands with many estimable improvisers from both sides of the Atlantic. Still, the drummer and pianist are the classic confirmation of the expression opposites attracts. MORE

January 15, 2008

Ken Waxman’s Top CDs for 2007

[In alphabetical order]
For CODA Issue 337

1. Muhal Richard Abrams, Vision Towards Essence Pi Recordings Pi23

2. Johannes Bauer/Thomas Lehn/Jon Rose, Futch Jazzwerkstatt JW 010

3. Bruce Eisenbeil Sextet, Inner Constellation Volume One. Nemu 007

4. Exploding Customer, At Your Service Ayler aylCD-063

5. Scott Fields Ensemble, Beckett Clean Feed CFO69 CD

6. Frank Gratkowski/Misha Mengelberg, Vis-à-vis Leo CD LR 476

7. François Houle, Evan Parker, Benoît Delbecq La Lumière de Pierres psi 07.02

8. Lucas Niggli Big Zoom, Celebrate Diversity Intakt CD 118 MORE

December 4, 2007

Double Duo

Crossword Puzzle
Libra Records 104-017

With trumpeters Angelo Verploegen of the Netherlands and Japan’s Natsuki Tamura serving as their corner men, two of jazz’s most idiosyncratic pianists – Holland’s Misha Mengelberg and Satoko Fujii, who divides her time between Tokyo and New York – face off in this live Amsterdam concert.

Completely improvised, the interpretations on the more than 33½-minute centerpiece and a less than 10-minute sequel allow the two keyboardists to move from foreground to background and vice versa; to complement each others’ phrases; to contrapuntally evoke other strategies; and to finish each others’ musical thoughts. It isn’t clear which pianist plays when, but it’s a good bet that to keep the performance off balance, trickster Mengelberg invokes burlesque piano exercises, harsh internal string-plucking and pedal pressure, while spinning out phrases that subtract or add to the proper number of beats. MORE

December 6, 2004


Aan & Uit
ICP 042

Up to their old tricks, the 10 members of the Dutch ICP Orchestra prove once again that having a good time and swinging doesn’t mean that you have to give up artistic integrity. Similarly this 70-minute collection of compositions, mostly by pianist/leader Misha Mengelberg, twists enough POMO strands that the band’s position as an evolving workshop -- like Mingus’ bands, for instance -- remains constant.

This time out, you notice that American cellist Tristan Honsinger -- an on-and-off ICP member for years -- and trombonist Wolter Wierbos have moved into centre position in the band, sharing the most space with originals Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink. Yet the longest -- almost nine minute tune -- is written by and a showcase for trumpeter Thomas Heberer. MORE

February 23, 2004


Party at the Bimhuis
Wig 09

1er. Encuentro Internacional de Improvisación Libre
Jazzorca Records 014

Gatherings of old friends and new acquaintances, parties, if organized properly, can sometimes result in unique insights along with the good times. So it is with these two discs.

Recorded live in an Amsterdam club last year, PARTY AT THE BIMHUIS is the long overdue celebration of the 10 -- well, really 11½ -- year anniversary of reedist Ab Baars’ trio with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven. Befitting a milestone, the three invited a group of associates to help them celebrate, and the assembled partygoers played in various combinations ranging from duo to septet. MORE

September 1, 2003


Paul Termos Sessions Volume I
X-OR CD 015/BIMHuis 006

Paul Termos Sessions Volume II
X-OR CD 016/GeestGronden GG 23

When Paul Termos died at 51 last May, from cancer of the pancreas, he, like his onetime employer bassist Maarten Altena, was mainly known as a serious composer for chamber orchestras. But, and also like Altena, he had an extensive jazz/improv background as an alto saxophonist, encompassing stints in bands led by pianist Guus Janssen plus the ICP Orchestra.

Propitiously these two CDs -- probably the Amsterdam-based musician’s last -- feature him in improv situations. VOLUME I is a reunion with his ICP boss, pianist Misha Mengelberg. The other is a five-track romp with young electric guitarist Wiek Hijmans, who despite his non-“classical” instrument also comes from the legit world.Surprisingly enough as well, the Hijmans-Termos meeting seems to stand up better than the other duo, although whether this was the result of chemistry -- body or location -- or merely over familiarity from Mengelberg-Termos is open to question. Unselfconsciously Hijmans appears to see his role here as providing fills to amplify Termos’ themes. Mengelberg, on the other hand is too much of old Provo to leave well enough alone and appears intent on disrupting any musical rapprochement the two veteran associates reach. MORE

June 30, 2003


Oh, My Dog
ICP 040

Rooted: Origins of Now
Southport/Asian Improv S-SSD 0092

Performing with a mid-sized band of improvisers is widespread because it provides freedom both for the composer(s) and the players. Nine plus instruments often provide enough variations to illustrate a writer’s vision; and with fewer than 12 bandmates, musicians can contribute much more than if they’re mere section placeholders.

Small big bands can also be used to express radically different concepts as these skilled CDs demonstrate. Together for almost 30 years, the Dutch ICP Orchestra has featured many different soloists over time, but with laissez faire direction coming from pianist/composer Misha Mengelberg, there’s a consistency there. Tatsu Aoki’s Myumi Project, on the other hand, is mostly a recording ensemble, put together to give flesh to the bassist/composer’s musical portraits of Asian American improvisers in particular and Asians in North America in general. MORE

March 8, 2002


Four in One
Songlines SJ-1535-SACD

Analogous to the stereotypical eccentric scientist experimenting in his lab filled with bubbling beakers and test tubes, composer/pianist Misha Mengelberg has, since the early 1960s, probably more than anyone else created what we think of as modern Dutch jazz.

With his faithful associate, Han Bennink -- whose playing is often as deranged and disruptive as it is theatrical -- usually loping behind, drum sticks in hand and snare on the floor, Mengelberg has mixed up his distinctive strange brew that seems totally unique in the land of windmills, canals and dikes. With a dash of experimental classical, a splash of American post bop and a lowlands infusion of comedic anarchy, he’s produced a hybrid Frankenstein monster that’s distinctive without scaring the pants off anyone -- although Bennink seems to prefer wearing shorts when he plays. MORE

September 20, 2000


Buzz ZZ 76012

Jubilee Varia
hatology 528

Comparisons are odious, but if anyone could be characterized as the Thelonious Monk of Europe it would be Dutch pianist/composer Misha Mengelberg. Headman of the little recorded Instant Composers Pool Orchestra, he's also the theoretician behind the creative musical irony which underlines much of what we know as post modern Dutch --and by extension -- European jazz.

Suddenly, though, we have two ways to appreciate Mengelberg's art, discs that could be the 1990s versions of MONK'S MUSIC and THELONIOUS HIMSELF. In fact, on the orchestra CD, you could even say that the pianist has his own Art Blakey in long-time drummer-collaborator Han Bennink and, to stretch the point even further, his own John Coltrane in saxophonist/clarinetist An Baars.