ICP Orchestra | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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ICP Orchestra

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On his group's wonderful new album, Aan & Uit (ICP), jazz pianist Misha Mengelberg demonstrates there's probably no one better at bringing out--and balancing--the push and pull between order and chaos in a large ensemble. His original "De Sprong, O Romantiek der Hazen" uses the ICP Orchestra's lush palette to create gorgeous Ellingtonian colors, but over this beautiful arrangement Mengelberg sings indecipherably, in a cranky, monkeylike croak. He derails the song's balladlike feel by hammering dissonant, jagged figures on his piano, and drummer Han Bennink helps out by dropping his trademark snare bombs. The rest of the tunes aren't quite so openly at war with themselves--there's even a relatively straight reading of "Barbaric," an obscure Hoagy Carmichael swinger recorded in 1930 by Irving Mills & His Hotsy-Totsy Gang. But Mengelberg is interested in bizarre juxtapositions, and his disruptive tendencies keep the group ready to respond to changes or challenges in an instant. The other members--cellist Tristan Honsinger, violinist Mary Oliver, bassist Ernst Glerum, trumpeter Thomas Heberer, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, and reedists Ab Baars, Michael Moore, and Tobias Delius--routinely intersect, mesh, and tangle on wild improvisations that never come fully unglued. With his theatrical playing, Bennink in particular always gives a crowd a good time--and makes sure the band never gets lazy. Wednesday 3, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $15, $8 students.

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