The Netherlands’ mighty ICP (Instant Composers Pool) Orchestra mixes freewheeling improvisation and composed material like no other, with every member given the latitude to try to alter the direction of a piece or improvisation. An ICP performance is one of the most exciting experiences in jazz, and it’s also one of the messiest–the music really can be the “sound of surprise” that some call it. Last year leader Misha Mengelberg enlarged the group to a tentet by adding tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius. As Kevin Whitehead has noted in this paper, Mengelberg often adds players to deliberately disrupt the proceedings, as a way of keeping the other members on their toes, but when I got to see the orchestra last December in Amsterdam the reedist’s burly tone was blending in beautifully. Here the orchestra will perform as a group on Thursday, and on Wednesday the players will perform in ad hoc duos and trios. This should make for an ideal setting, considering the many different contexts these musicians collaborate in outside the ICP, and how clumps of them frequently operate within the group. The strings (cellist Tristan Honsinger, violinist Mary Oliver, and bassist Ernst Glerum), the reeds (Ab Baars, Michael Moore, and Delius), and the brass (trombonist Wolter Wierbos and trumpeter Thomas Herberer) all function as self-contained units, sculpting tidy unison lines, adding witty counterpoint, or launching anarchic challenges to the activity of other sections. Drummer Han Bennink, as comic as he is explosive, is a section unto himself. ICP has long doubled as a who’s who of Dutch jazz; between these two gigs we’re getting a veritable Dutch jazz festival. Wednesday, March 26, 8 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. Thursday, March 27, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Francesca Patella.