ICP Orchestra // Code Girl // Negro Leo // The Killing Popes

ICP Orchestra // Code Girl // Negro Leo // The Killing Popes

Thursday, 4 November 2021, 5.00pm

Amsterdam’s ICP Orchestra, a paragon of European improvised music, is preceded by a special duo performance of Han Bennink and Pat Thomas, while drummer and composer Oli Steidle uses The Killing Popes to refract post-bop, free jazz, noise, and ambient music through post-club soundscape. São Paulo polymath Negro Leo gives a taste of his contemporary take on Brazil’s Tropicália aesthetic, and Mary Halvorson presents the latest album of her song project Code Girl.

Live concert in Berlin / ca. 25 min

Pat Thomas & Han Bennink
Pat Thomas | piano
Han Bennink | drums

Commissioned by Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin

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Live concert in Berlin / ca. 50 min

ICP Orchestra: “Komen & Gaan”
Amsterdam’s venerable Instant Composers Pool Orchestra has endured many losses, none greater than the death of co-founding pianist Misha Mengelberg in 2017, but somehow it has consistently reinvented itself and improvised new pathways. Last year, an amended version of the group released the stunning “Komen & Gaan”, a deft riposte to Covid restrictions that featured a line-up without its non-Netherlands-based members joined by two guests – guitarist Terrie Ex and bass clarinetist Joris Roelofs – adapting to circumstances without a hiccup. The album seamlessly blends standards and group improvisations, at once retaining and overturning history with the same mix of reverence and insouciance. Although still fueled by the legendary drummer Han Bennink, who started the group with Mengelberg and reedist Willem Breuker, ICP works because all of its members share Bennink’s sense of mischief and tradition. Of course, one never knows what ICP will perform until the group takes the stage, but with Bennink, violinist Mary Oliver, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, reedists Michael Moore and Tobias Delius, bassist Ernst Glerum and trumpeter Thomas Heberer, reunited with Ex and Roelofs, there is little doubt that they will make the experience memorable. The program begins with a special duo performance between Bennink and Pat Thomas, the superb British pianist of أحمد [Ahmed].

Mary Oliver | violin, viola
Michael Moore | clarinet, alto saxophone
Tobias Delius | clarinet, tenor saxophone
Joris Roelofs | bass clarinet
Thomas Heberer | trumpet
Wolter Wierbos | trombone
Terrie Ex | guitar
Guus Janssen | piano
Ernst Glerum | bass
Han Bennink | drums

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Live concert in Berlin / ca. 50 min

Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl: “Artlessly Falling”
Mary Halvorson, perhaps the most distinctive guitarist of her generation and a regular presence at Jazzfest Berlin in recent years – artist in residence in 2018 and a performer in last year’s New York-Berlin online exchange –, presents her eloquent song-based project Code Girl. Last year, the sextet released its superb second album “Artlessly Falling”, which chronicled a huge leap in the guitarist’s ability to compose for vocalists, and featured no less than the legendary Robert Wyatt on three pieces, while the core sextet has never sounded more sophisticated and tuneful. Halvorson used a variety of poetic forms as compositional frameworks, building in structural variety. The melodies intoned by lead singer Amirtha Kidambi sound as organic as they do elegant, and they are effectively enhanced by the harmony singing of tenor saxophonist Brian Settles. The rhythm section of bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, who also work with Halvorson in the trio Thumbscrew, provide an agile foundation for the singers and the instrumental frontline, which also includes the marvellous trumpeter Adam O’Farrill – grandson of the great Cuban bandleader Chico.

Mary Halvorson | guitar
Amirtha Kidambi | vocals
Adam O'Farrill | trumpet
Brian Settles | tenor saxophone
Michael Formanek | bass
Tomas Fujiwara | drums

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Video contribution from São Paulo / ca. 10 min

Negro Leo: “Schwarzfahren”
Few current musicians working in Brazil have adapted the voracious stylistic reach once practiced by the musicians of the Tropicália era like Leonardo Campelo Gonçalves, better known as Negro Leo. In his own peculiar fashion, he subscribes to the principles of autonomous Brazilian cultural production laid out by poet Oswald de Andrade in his 1928 essay “Manifesto Antropófago”, interpreting them through a post-Tropicália lens. His music leapfrogs all over the map, with an abiding commitment to experimentation whether he is unleashing torrents of noise or singing a bossa nova curdled by dissonance. He is seriously prolific, releasing ten albums over the last decade, with each one defying expectations. His work collides electronics and acoustic instrumentation, suggesting Jorge Ben for the experimental set, although the only path he follows is the one he blazes each time he takes the stage. His practice is driven by an improvisational mindset, and he frequently departs from his written material with on-the-fly disruptions, creating spontaneous sonic quilts of free association. From his home in São Paulo, he presents new work shot by his equally talented wife, the singer Ava Rocha.

Negro Leo | composition, piano, voice, programming, turntable, video direction
Ava Rocha | video direction, camera, editing
Sergio Machado | drums
Pedro Dantas | electric bass
Lucas Pires | lettering
Renato Godoy | mixing, mastering
Angela Novaes (QTV) | executive producer
Mariana Mansur (QTV) | executive producer

Commissioned by Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin in cooperation with Manoela Wright & Juliano Gentile

This video contribution is part of Jazzfest Berlin – São Paulo
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Live concert in Berlin / ca. 50 min

The Killing Popes featuring Jelena Kuljić & Natalie Sandtorv: “Ego Kills”
The internationally acclaimed drummer and composer Oli Steidle is a ubiquitous fixture on Berlin’s experimental music scene, blithely disregarding boundaries between jazz, noise, and electronic music. He started The Killing Popes back in 2013, and the ever-changing project has been an ideal clearing house to combine his multifarious interests in a single, hard-hitting endeavour. Now partnering with the British keyboardist and producer Dan Nicholls, Steidle recently released the second Killing Popes album “Ego Kills”, a blistering sonic assault that refracts post-bop and fusion through an electronic music prism. Fleshed out by the slashing saxophone lines of Philipp Gropper, the timbre-shifting electric guitar of Frank Möbus, and the snaking, floor-rattling bass of Phil Donkin, the music pulverizes club grooves into stuttering, stop-start jags, layering live and sampled phrases and fragments atop the beats. Steidle and Nicholls inventively operate as live remixers within tune-based performance, redirecting rhythm with the glee of improvisers. The endeavour is further enhanced by the vocals of Jelena Kuljić and Natalie Sandtorv, both accomplished jazz singers who occasionally flip the script with tone-setting spoken word and sultry crooning.

Oliver Steidle | drums, composition
Dan Nicholls | keyboards, composition
Frank Möbus | guitar
Philipp Gropper | saxophone
Phil Donkin | bass
Jelena Kuljić | vocals
Natalie Sandtorv | vocals

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