Farewell Misha Mengelberg
“Improvisation is useless unless it’s conceivable and fun”, are Misha Mengelberg‘s words, the Dutch pianist, composer and great improvisor who died today, at the age of 81.
One of the founders of Instant Composers Pool, the Dutch orchestra and record label for promotion of avant-garde, improvised jazz. Today, the ICP is the oldest record label ran by musicians, and the ICP Orchestra which he led for 20 years, is one of Europe’s most creative big orchestras in the past few decades.
Among his merits is STEIM (STudio for Electro Instrumental Music), a research center for the development of instruments which he founded as well, and he is the founder of the Bimhuis concert hall which he established in 1974 in a former furniture store situated close to the Red Light District, together with a group of musicians.
He collaborated with musicians like Gary Peacock, Derek Bailey, Peter Brotzmann and Anthony Braxton. Among his regular collaborators Han Bennink is standing out, with whom he collaborated since his first album in 1966.
Director Cherry Duyns made a documentary named Micha etc. (Misha enzovoor) in which this unique artists was portrayed through a retrospective of a part of his opus, the influence he had on music history, and through his progressive dementia condition.
We had the honor of listening to Misha Mengelberg in 2008 in Sarajevo, within Jazz Fest’s special program Flying Dutchmen, where he held a solo concert, a duet performance with Han Bennink and introduced his quartet with guest trumpeter Dave Douglas.