«Komen & Gaan» (come and go in Dutch) faithfully captures the loose, eclectic and usually eccentric spirit of the Dutch legendary Instant Composers Pool (ICP). This spirit owes much to the unique location of the recording, the Le Brocope gallery, a music venue and a café-restaurant in the tiny village Oldeberkoop in Netherlands’ far North. The architecture of the gallery, its staff and even the gallery’s friendly dogs play a central role in «Komen & Gaan», recorded over two days in October 2020.
The ICP septet missed the 3T’s – cellist Tristan Honsinger, sax player Tobias Delius and trumpeter Thomas Heberer, but was augmented by familiar guests, The Ex’ guitarist Terry Ex (aka Terrie Hessels) and bass clarinet player Joris Roelofs. Both Ex and Roelofs collaborated before with ICP’s musicians – Ex with ICP’s co-founder-musical director-drummer Han Bennink and reeds master Ab Baars, and Roelofs with Bennink. During the recording of «Komen & Gaan», Bennink, pianist Guus Janssen and Ex were situated in the main room of the gallery. Reeds player Michael Moore and Baars, violinist-violist Mary Oliver, double bass player Ernst Glerum and Roelofs were in a smaller room and occasionally joined Bennink, Janssen and Ex – individually and in different line-ups, Janssen and Ex. Trombonist Wolter Wierbos was running constantly between the two spaces and throughout the gallery.
«Komen & Gaan» offers a series of musical games that begins with Baars playing «Lucht», and exploring the meditative, ethereal spectrum of the Japanese bamboo flute, the shakuhachi, in the space of the main hall of the gallery. Glerum’s touching homage to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, «De Linkerschoen, De Rechterschoen», played here in two versions, and the like-minded, ICP’s «Pianola Potpourri» and «Kiksaus» sound all as coming from a different, more innocent and optimist era. Wierbos, Bennink and Oliver abstract one of the gallery’s dogs barking into a playful and conversational free-improvisation on «Komen & Gaan 1», and the following pieces by this title expand this kind of free-associative and open-ended and often openly emotional spirit. Ex and Jannsen enjoy subverting Oliver’s delicate and subtle melody on «MaGuTer» and Janssen quotes Bach («Toccata and Fugue in D minor») on «GuTer» while Ex keeps twisting the iconic melody, playing his guitar with a drumstick and a coffee cup. Misha Mengelberg’s enigmatic «Kroket» is arranged in a reserved, subtle manner and only Bennink disturbs its quiet atmosphere. «HaAbTer» brings together Bennink, Baars and Ex with the unlikely instrumentation of shakuhachi, cajun and electric guitar but produces an engaging improvisation. Moore and Janssen enjoy a chamber duet of «GuJo» and a much more eccentric one with Ex on «MiTer».
ICP always knew how to juggle between discipline and total spontaneity, wide-eyed playfulness and good-natured mutiny, and between vaguely familiar themes yet ones that never settled for easy formulas, and dadaist, wild outbursts, here including quick tours of the premises of the gallery. «Komen & Gaan» keeps this great, inspiring legacy while giving it another subversive twist.
Ab Baars (ts, cl, shakuhachi), Mary Oliver (vio, viola), Wolter Wierbos (tb), Michael Moore (as, cl), Ernst Glerum (b, p), Guus Janssen (p, pianola), Han Bennink (snare dr, cymbal, horseshoe, cajon, jeu de boules), Joris Roelofs (bcl), Terrie Ex (g)