Ictus & Octurn [Brussels]
Le Grand Gamelan
Le Grand Gamelan is the title of a suite composed by Bo Van de Werf of the Octurn jazz ensemble for an imaginary gamelan group comprising the eight musicians of Octurn and the five percussionists from Ictus.
Octurn is one of Belgium’s leading jazz ensembles. It is a collective that builds up its repertoire project by project. For example, it plays pieces written by its own musicians and gives carte blanche to composer friends (Frederic Rzewski, Patrick Zimmerli, Denis Pousseur and others), which reflects a similar attitude to that taken by contemporary music ensembles.
Jazz ensembles and musicians such as Aka Moon, Steve Coleman and Octurn persist in probing the limits of tonal music. Again and again they discover something to adapt and readapt to form flexible material from which they can again produce fresh and lively improvisation. These extremes of tonality are met by a many-layered rhythmicality.
Fine timbres, a rich range of sound, cyclical and layered rhythmicality, percussionists acting as a single instrument... this can all be summarised in the word ‘gamelan’. Despite the integration of several elements from the range of Balinese instruments, one should not expect any overly literal references. The spirit of the ‘gamelan’ is evoked by the expanded percussion section, which brings about a resonance of rhythm and harmony reminiscent of Olivier Messiaen (marimba, vibraphone, celeste, gongs, glockenspiel and tubular bells, and traditional elements of the gamelan).