Dutch Impro Academy 2019 at the Royal Conservatoire

This year’s Dutch Impro Academy will be a MISHA-DIA, hosted at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, 5 days intensive time with ICP! To resume the week, the students and teachers will give a concert on Friday at Studio Loos in The Hague from 8 pm onwards.



2019 Teachers


Ab Baars

Dutch musician-composer and bandleader Ab Baars (1955) performs on tenor saxophone, clarinet and shakuhachi. He focuses mainly on Ab Baars Solo, Baars-Buis, Fish Scale Sunrise, Perch Hen Brock & Rain, Ab Baars Trio, Duo Baars-Henneman and the ICP Orchestra. In reviews, Baars’ music has been characterized as joyfully obstinate, but surely appealing and as colourful as it is astonishing. It embodies the best typically Dutch improvised music has to offer. Although he seldomly uses recognizable song forms or ongoing swing rhythms, the music stays catchy, because it is stripped to the essence and clearly presented.

Influenced by the American saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, whom he worked with in 1986, and by his participation in the Monk Project (performed by the Instant Composers Pool, directed by Misha Mengelberg), Baars adopted a very personal style, or ‘ab music’ as Misha Mengelberg calls it.

At the age of 15, Ab Baars began playing the saxophone in the Philips Marching Band and other local bands in the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. From 1976 to 1981, he studied saxophone with Leo van Oostrom at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music. He was granted a scholarship by the Dutch Ministry of Culture in 1989 to study with clarinettist-composer John Carter in Los Angeles. That same year Baars was presented with the prestigious Boy Edgar Award. In 2005, Baars set out playing the shakuhachi (a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute) and took lessons with Kees Kort, Christopher Blasdel and Takeo Yamashiro.

So far, Ab Baars has worked with improvisers such as Han Bennink, Jaap Blonk, Alberto Braida, Anthony Braxton, John Carter, The Ex, Cor Fuhler, Ben Goldberg, Tristan Honsinger, François Houle, George Lewis, Michael Moore, Sunny Murray, Sonic Youth, Fabrizio Spera, Cecil Taylor, Roger Turner, Ken Vandermark, Veryan Weston, Wolter Wierbos, Michiyo Yagi, poets H.C. ten Berge and Diane Régimbald, dancers Beppie Blankert, Hisako Horikawa, Masako Noguchi and Katie Duck’s Magpie Company.



Wolter Wierbos

Wolter Wierbos is considered one of the world’s leading trombone players. He has played throughout Europe, Canada, USA and Asia. Wierbos has many awards to his name, including the Podiumprijs for Jazz and Improvised music and the most important Dutch jazz award, the VPRO Boy Edgar Prize.

Like many Dutch brass players Wierbos started out in a ‘fanfare’ (brass band), switching from trumpet to trombone when he was 17. “It looked good, and the trombones walk in front….” His interests range from precise chamber jazz to throbbing post punk and contemporary composed and improvised music.

Described as “a phenomenon, both a humorous importer of every style into his template-free, fat-backed sound, and a tireless spy in the house of brass”, he is equally at home using the classic trombone vocabulary or enthusiastically giving a round-trip tour of his horn, from buzzing mute mutations and grizzly blurts to purring multiphonics. He is also “a very good instant composer, good at keeping it moving and not taking it too seriously”.

Since 1979 he has played with numerous music ensembles: Cumulus (with Ab Baars and Harry de Wit), JC Tans & Rockets, Theo Loevendie Quintet, Guus Janssen Septet, Loos (Peter van Bergen), Maarten Altena Ensemble and Podiumtrio. He led his own band, Celebration of Difference, and has been involved in theater, dance, television and film projects. He has been invited to play with the EX, Sonic Youth, Gruppo Sportivo and the Nieuw Ensemble (led by Ed Spanjaard).


Han Bennink

In the niche-oriented world of major-league jazz, it’s almost unfashionable to be so multi-faceted a player as Han Bennink. Bennink is one of the unfortunately rare musicians whose abilities and interests span the music’s entire spectrum, from Dixieland to free. His straight-ahead playing is absolutely convincing — his time is solid, his sense of swing strong, and his technique flawless. He also possesses the requisite qualities of a free jazz virtuoso; Bennink’s ability to interact quickly and creatively with horn players and pianists is great, as is his ear for timbral contrasts. What ultimately makes Bennink special is his manifest love for the music, a love that inclines him to tear down the cardboard walls that too often separate different schools of jazz. At his best, with colleagues who share his all-encompassing stylistic embrace, Bennink plays the continuum of jazz as an instrument unto itself.

Bennink began playing drums while in his teens under the influence of his father, a classical percussionist. He played with hometown musicians in the early ’60s. Between 1962 and 1969, Bennink backed local American jazz greats like Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, and Eric Dolphy on their visits to Holland (he was the drummer on Dolphy’s Last Date album, from 1964). In 1963, he formed a quartet that included pianist Misha Mengelberg, which played the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival. In the mid-’60s, Bennink began to play free jazz with the likes of Mengelberg and Willem Breuker. In 1967, those three founded the Instant Composer’s Pool, a not-for-profit organization designed to promote the Dutch jazz avant-garde. Around that same period, Bennink began continuing associations with the saxophonist Peter Brotzmann, guitarist Derek Bailey, trombonist Alex Schlippenbach, trumpeter Don Cherry, and the Globe Unity Orchestra. In the ’70s and ’80s, Bennink led and played as sideman on a number of sessions on the FMP, Incus, and Soul Note labels; he made a notable contribution to Steve Lacy’s Herbie Nichols tribute album, Regeneration, with Mengelberg, bassist Kent Carter, and trombonist Roswell Rudd. In the late ’80s, Bennink started, with cellist Ernst Reijseger and saxophonist Michael Moore, the Clusone Trio, which has since become perhaps the percussionist’s most ideal performance vehicle. Both Reijseger and Moore share Bennink’s extraordinarily wide range of musical interests, to say nothing of his absurdist sense of humor. It is, in fact, Bennink’s rather whimsical theatricality that mitigates — for some, at least — the seriousness and depth of his art.

– Chris Kelsey, AllMusic.com


Guus Janssen

Guus Janssen (1951) studied piano and composition at the Sweelinck Academy of Music in Amsterdam. His music is difficult to categorize. It can be a composed improvisation (Brake for pianosolo) or an improvised composition (parts from his Violin Concerto or his opera Noach). Music is like life itself, sometimes it asks for fast decisions and sometimes it needs to be thought over a lot.

As a pianist and harpsichordist he performed in various groupings with musicians from John Zorn to Gidon Kremer. Since the early 1980’s he has led his own ensembles, ranging from piano trios to an 11 piece band and opera orchestra. As a soloist, he has appeared at many international festivals, playing mainly his own compositions and improvisations. In addition, he has performed with many of the leading Dutch ensembles and orchestras.

Janssen received the Boy Edgar Award, 1981. His compositions, quite apart from the pieces written for the Janssen ensembles, range from piano music and string quartet to symphonic work; they have been widely played by, amongst others, the Kronos Quartet, the Schönberg Ensemble, the Ebony Band and the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest.

So far Janssen has composed four operas in collaboration with Friso Haverkamp: ‘Faust’s Licht’ (1988/1993), ‘Noach’ (1994), ‘Hier’ (2000) and ‘Blue, a Pinnocchio in reverse’ (2010). In 2015 he composed the opera ‘Koeien operamisha’ for the ICP Orchestra with a libretto by Cherry Duyns, both music and texts base don material of Misha Mengelberg. The opera had its premiere in the Holland Festival followed by a very well received tour along dutch theatres.

In 2012 Janssen was honoured with the prestigious Johan Wagenaar Award for his whole oeuvre and in 2015 he received the ‘Art Award’ from the Foundation Adriaan Roland Holst.


Michael Moore

Michael Moore was born and raised in Eureka, California, the son of a semi-professional musician. He studied music at Humboldt State and in 1977 graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard and Gunther Schuller, and was a classmate of Marty Ehrlich’s. Moore played in a wide variety of musical contexts – especially those in support of theatre and dance groups. By 1982 he was a regular member of Misha Mengelberg’s Instant Composers Pool and had relocated to Amsterdam. He remains active in ICP to this day. He also was member of Georg Gräwes Grubenklang Orchester.

Aside from ICP, Moore is perhaps best known as one-third of the Clusone 3 (aka Trio Clusone and Clusone Trio), along with cellist Ernst Reijseger and drummer Han Bennink. Originally meant only to play a single date at a festival in Clusone, Italy, the trio toured irregularly for several years and recorded six CDs, including one of freely-interpreted Irving Berlin compositions.

Moore’s first recording as a leader was in 1992 but it was with 1994’s Chicoutimi that he began to earn serious recognition as a composer. The drummerless trio on this CD (Fred Hersch, piano, and Mark Helias, bass) was inspired by the duo recordings of Lee Konitz and Gil Evans, and recalls in places the legendary Jimmy Giuffre trios of the early 1960s.

Moore continues to play in a very wide variety of musical contexts. Another group in which he plays – Jewels and Binoculars, a collective trio with bassist Lindsey Horner and drummer Michael Vatcher – is devoted to interpretations of Bob Dylan songs.

In 1986, Moore won the VPRO/Boy Edgar Award, regarded as the most prestigious jazz award in the Netherlands. In 1991, he founded Ramboy records to document his music. The label had 22 releases as of August 2006.

Moore started his Jazz Quintet in 2005. In this quintet, Moore pairs himself with accomplished Dutch players: trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, pianist Marc van Roon, bassist Paul Berner, and drummer Owen Hart, Jr. In October 2005, the Quintet recorded the album Osiris.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (violin, viola, hardanger fiddle) was born in La Jolla, California, and studied at San Francisco State University (Bachelor of Music), Mills College (Master of Fine Arts) and the University of California, San Diego where she received her PhD in 1993 for her research in the theory and practice of improvised music.

Her work as a soloist encompasses both composed and improvised contemporary music; she has premiered works by among others, Richard Barrett, John Cage, Chaya Czernowin, Brian Ferneyhough, Joëlle Léandre, Liza Lim, George E. Lewis, Richard Teitelbaum and Iannis Xenakis. Oliver has worked alongside improvising musicians such as Han Bennink, Mark Dresser, Cor Fuhler, Jean-Charles François, Tristan Honsinger, Joëlle Léandre, George E. Lewis, Nicole Mitchell, Andy Moor, Misha Mengelberg, Evan Parker, and Anthony Pateras.

As a soloist and ensemble player, she has performed in numerous international festivals including the Darmstädter Feriendurse für neue Musik, Donaueschinger Muziektage 2002, Bimhuis October Meeting, Vancouver and Toronto Jazz Festivals, Ars Electronica, Ars Musica, London Musicians Collective Festival, Münchener Biennale, Salzburger Festspiele and Maertz Musik festspiel in Berlin.

In 1994, she was an artist in residence at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart where she added, through their generosity, the hardanger fiddle to her instrumentarium. For the past twelve years, she has been based in Amsterdam where she has worked locally and internationally with various ensembles such as Instant Composer’s Pool (ICP) Orchestra, Magpie Music and Dance Company, AACM Black Earth Ensemble, Scapino Ballet, Elision Ensemble, MAE, Het National Ballet and Xenakis Ensemble. Currently she teaches at the Hogeschool voor Kunst, Media en Technology and a member of ICP Orchestra, Ammü (with Han Bennink on drums, Johanna Varner on cello and Christofer Varner on trombone) and Magpie Music Dance Company. Recent projects include the 6th Room with light designer Ellen Knops and dancer Michael Schumacher, Trio! with clarinetist François Houle and contrabassist Torsten Muller and a duo Jomo with cellist Johanna Varner.