Preview: Evan Parker writes about the Might I Suggest? ICP week at the Vortex

ICP Orchestra

Preview: Evan Parker writes about Might I Suggest? and the ICP (Instant Composers Pool) week at the Vortex (29th Jan – 2nd Feb 2013)

My first knowledge of Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg was of course their fantastic playing on Eric Dolphy’s Last Date, but I first met and played with Han in 1968.  We were both invited to Wuppertal to be part of Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun band. Willem Breuker was also there and after that first meeting I got invited to the Netherlands for various projects under the ICP banner in the early days of their formation. ICP at that point was just Misha, Willem and Han and they were busy making records and organising concerts with invited guests which was my role on several memorable occasions.  A few years later Willem broke away to form his own label BVHaast and his own large group the Kollektief.

In the next five or so years there were many exchanges between Germany, the Netherlands and England much of which was documented on record.  I think Han and Misha’s first trip to the UK was made in response to an invitation from students at the Edinburgh College of Art. I wish we had recorded those concerts.  The students responsible went on the become life-long friends and indeed to be very distinguished in their chosen fields: Alan Johnston eventually became Professor at that same College of Art, Graeme Murray ran the Fruitmarket Gallery after establishing his own Gallery and Iain Patterson became a lecturer at the College and of course continued to draw and paint.  Han became very friendly with Iain and for many years would visit Scotland for holidays.  Alan went to Germany on a DAAD scholarship and lived in Wuppertal…In fact the network of friendships, collaborations and connections would take a book to do justice to.

In 1970 we started Incus records.  This was as a direct consequence of having seen how Peter Brötzmann. and ICP were doing things for themselves and in the grand tradition on musicians’ labels. In association with Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley and Mike Walters we set up Incus and I made the first record, The Topography of the Lungs. This has been one of my most successful records and when it was reissued on CD it also sold its first pressing very quickly. The second pressing is still in print but selling well. Han and I have always stayed in touch and while we now only play together occasionally it is always a feeling of friendship that goes all the way back to those early days. Misha and I were invited by Graham Mckenzie and Raymond Macdonald to make the first record for a new label they were planning.  Their plans were shelved when Graham became Director of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Raymond founded the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.  They offered me the tapes back and I issued them on psi (my new label formed after leaving Incus). This CD is either called Broken Chair or This won’t be called broken chairdepending how you read it. In response to this record we were invited to play at Jazz em Agosto at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon and the reviews were so positive that we were then invited to play at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam on earlier this month.  It will be great to have Misha in London.

On Thursday January 31 I will play a trio set with Han and John Edwards at the Vortex as part of the Might I Suggest? ICP week.  This will be another chance to refresh the friendships that have lasted so long.  Advance sales for the week are good and it will be a great opportunity for the London audience to hear small groups led by individuals from the ten piece playing with London based musicians of their choosing and then the full ten piece playing for two nights.


Categories: miscellaneous

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