Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ICP Orchestra a Hit in Pittsburgh

Wow. Weer Is Een Daag Voorbij!

"Another Day Has Come and Gone," the translation of the exclamation above, is actually the name of the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra's latest self-released album on ICP Records, but also it's a pretty accurate description of today's activities - except that today has come and gone in Pittsburgh with an amazing and historic performance captured in our hearts and our minds.

Luckily my day started around 11 AM. I knew I had to (and could) sleep in today, in order to have the energy to do all the shopping, lifting, carrying, ordering of food, hosting, setting-up, tearing-down, and other general stuff associated with putting on a show of this size and nature.

What size and nature, you ask? Well let's just say that the ingredients in play were Manny Theiner, an ensemble of 10 rambunctious Dutch & American musicians (including Han Bennink - known for his stage antics - which tonight included hitting the drum set with metal poles, hitting certain metal poles on other metal poles, using his chair as a drum stick of sorts, and whooping up and down like a seagull who has just zeroed in on a good meal), a 300-person hall, and finally a motley audience of Pittsburgh intellectuals, students, punks, and bums - all of whom got in for free (no thanks to Amy Stabenow, Concert Manager for the school of music).

Big thanks go to Manny Theiner for telling me about ICP's availability, doing all publicity/postering as well as writing the excellent article for CP (also thanks to Aaron Jentzen for publishing said article), Dave Pellow for booking the room and providing the bass amp, Liz Vaughan for doing all the contracting and logistical work she is so grand at, the percussion department (Paul Evans, Mikey L, Mikey P, and the red-haired dude whose name I always screw up), DJ for his sweet bass, Harold Walls and Riccardo Schulz (and their man Eric) for the sound equipment and expert help in Kresge, Chris from AB Tech for sound-checking and setting up the stage, and Spencer and Dan from AB Coffeehouse for the extra flow to make this show happen.

It was a crazy day with all the running around, finding drums, bass, amps, and getting the musicians fed before the show, but a beautiful performance ensued nevertheless. And the people surely came out! The concert included both pre-composed and "instantly composed" music; a variety of timbres from cacophonous to mellow. I definately heard Ellington and Tizol's "Caravan," Ellington's "Solitude" (with a beautiful free Johnny Hodges-esque alto feature by Michael Moore), and Monk's "Criss Cross" in the program. They did almost all the possible combinations of players on different tunes, with various group members often wandering the stage and backstage aimlessly. But I was particularly taken with Walter Wierbos (the trombonist), who changed his shirt twice on stage and often walked around with camera in-hand taking pictures of other members of the band as well as the audience while the music was going on.

Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink, the ICP's two remaining co-founders (the other Willem Breuker departed the ensemble long ago), did two duos. The latter one happened to be the second encore which ended the concert. The two men, arm-in-arm sang a heart warming vocal duo (Misha humming and growling with his signature boll-weevol growl).

Misha, Mary, Tristan, Ernst, Thomas, Han, Walter, Toby, Ab, Michael, and Susanna (their tour manager and booking agent) are probably all in bed now, but my head is still spinning from tonight's performance. Over 200 people were there! That's a big deal for a friggin improvised music show in any city, let alone Pittsburgh.

P.S. I really still have that Henry Threadgill concert w/ Zooid in my mind (from when I was in Philly) and I look forward to working with Mark Christman and Ars Nova in the coming months when I move to Philly - I learned tonight from Susanna that they will be there during next year's US tour.

Ok, g'night.

Now listening to: ICP Orchestra - Kneushoorn (from BospaaDJe Konijnehol II)

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Uncle Abrascha (Albert) Lotters died last Wednesday. He was born in the Ukraine in 1910, fled the Bolshevik Revolution at 7 with his parents, went to university at Ghent, later fleed the Nazis to Paris, then Spain, then the Dominican Republic. He was a civil engineer who worked on irrigation projects in the jungle of Hispaniola before a fortuitous eye injury allowed him to come live in the US. There he lived and worked in New York, working on projects including the Chrysler building, and the 1964 World's Fair grounds at Flushing Meadows. When his first wife passed in 1968 he was soon introduced to Joyce Stern and soon they were married. They were married 36 years. He died March 8, 2006 in Port Washington, NY. He was 95.

Burial is a strange thing - a very scary thing. It's hard not to picture the body inside the coffin pleading not to be covered with dirt. At Jewish burials it is customary for the bereaved to cover the coffin with the initial layer of dirt. Said layer must cover the coffin completely so that it is no longer visible. This is supposedly supposed to ensure that animals and other things don't get into it and for the family members' peace of mind.

Jews mourn for seven days. It's called "sitting shiva." Shiva means seven. It is sad but you get to eat a lot of food and pray quickly compared to most other services. I hope Aunt Joyce eventually lets the tears flow. It was very strange to see her not cry.

Also, Tony Soprano died tonight on the Sopranos. More on that later....

Now Listening to: Junior by Aceyalone w/ RJD2