Misha Mengelberg, Jazz Pianist and Co-Founder of ICP Orchestra

Jazz in Haarlem (1960) – Watch on YouTube

Misha Mengelberg was an avant-garde jazz pianist whose influences included Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols. He recorded his own interpretations of both artists, but was also a prolific composer on his own. Along with Willem Breuker (reeds) and Han Bennink (drums), Mengelberg started the ICP (Instant Composers Pool) Orchestra in the 1960s. Performers would come and go from that group, but Mengelberg and Bennink were often at the core.

Born in Ukraine, Mengelberg spent most of his life in the Netherlands, where he attended the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In the early 1960s, his trio (with Bennink) backed Johnny Griffin, Eric Dolphy and Cecil Taylor and performed at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival.

To hear how Mengelberg and the ICP Orchestra interpreted Monk, here are a few takes of  “Four In One,” including one by Monk himself.

Thelonious Monk (Genius of Modern Music: Vol. 2 (Rudy Van Gelder Edition))

Misha Mengelberg Quartet (Four In One)

ICP Orchestra (Herbie Nichols/Thelonious Monk)

“If Thelonious Monk had been born 20 years later in Europe, he may indeed have been Misha Mengelberg.” – Thom Jurek, All Music Guide to Jazz

Misha Mengelberg, June 5, 1935-March 3, 2017

“Hypochristmutreefuzz” on Spotify