ICP Orchestra - Jubilee Varia (1999), 6/10

Jubilee Varia assembles an all-star cast of European musicians as the ICP Orchestra to present a fittingly varied set of performances and sounds. Other than their first recording Groupcomposing this is perhaps their most impressive and certainly among the most interesting. Beginning with the three part Jubilee Varia Suite, we are presented with a stunningly impressive array of improvisation and a superb exhibition of three very distinct experiments of arrangement. Mengelberg and Bennink in the first movement achieve a sparse yet intermittently explosive sound. Then in the second section of the suite we get layers of cello that sound supremely in sync despite their back and forth, dispersed dialogue. The third passage is certainly the most straightforward, sounding like bossa nova, yet there is a unique flavor of injected unpredictability from these horns not present in its original form. Then a slow build unleashes part two of the Jealousy Suite in “Next Subject” where we hear more of what is expected from the group akin to traditional European Free Jazz, although it takes a long few sections of meandering to arrive there. Then, perhaps my favorite, in “Rollo 1” where the orchestra blends an unlikely combination of jazz genres to produce a product resembling almost nothing familiar. I wouldn’t call it chaotic, but it certainly has several twists and turns that make the track amusingly particular and grant it an uncommon sound. A very successful yet bizarre project from ICP Orchestra that has its place among their best exploits in improvisation and live performance.