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ICP Orchestra - Jubilee Varia (1997)

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A Darker Shade Of Blue

1. Review by Glenn Astarita (A.A.J.):

ICP Orchestra’s recordings echo the dynamics and ingenuity of European progressive-jazz improvisation. The largely Dutch band, featuring co-founders, pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink, instituted the ICP Orchestra in parallel with the ICP record label in the late 1960s. The critically heralded 1999 Hat Art album, Jubilee Variance, enjoys renewed life via this 2010 reissue.
The band and respective musicians’ legacy is well-documented, spanning several decades. Nonetheless, ICP’s creative sparks reside within asynchronous projections of improvisation and structure. And it’s quite an uncanny listening experience at that. Branded by a group-centric signature sound, the band affords its soloists numerous opportunities to stretch as this album is segmented into two suites.
On “Jubilee Varia suite—2nd movement,” cellists Ernst Reijseger, Tristan Honsinger and contrabassist Ernst Glerum conjure a dark panorama, built on staccato frameworks and linear phrasings. Here, the artists generate a contrasting silhouette, containing notions of grief and merrymaking. It’s improvised chamber jazz, brimming with curiously interesting abstracts; one of many flourishing and mind-altering sorties executed throughout this masterfully orchestrated program.

2. Review by Steve Loewy:

Yes, there is a quality of mishmash to it all, but nonetheless, this long-awaited recording by the ICP Orchestra should satisfy those who enjoy the unique sounds that pianist Misha Mengelberg, drummer Han Bennink, and the other seven participants create. There are two suites, each divided into three distinct pieces, and not all feature the entire ensemble. For example, the opening section of “Jubilee Varia Suite” is a duo between Mengelberg and Bennink, which is followed by a trio of cellists Ernst Reijseger and Tristan Honsinger and bassist Ernst Glerum. Along the way, everyone glows, and there is choice sound from Wolter Wierbos (on trombone), Thomas Heberer (on trumpet), and Michael Moore and Ab Baars (on clarinet and saxophones). Ultimately, it is the originality, the humor, and the wackiness of it all combined with the consummate musicianship, that entertain and impress. The excellent liners by Kevin Whitehead are a plus.

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