Fred Van Hove | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Fred Van Hove




The list of records Belgian pianist Fred van Hove has cut as a leader is relatively short (and the list of those that have been issued in the U.S. is even shorter)--which makes his imposing presence on the European free-jazz scene over the last three decades all the more remarkable. Best known as a frequent collaborator of German saxophonist Peter Brštzmann--on screech classics like Machine Gun and Balls--he's able to summon great reserves of stormy violence, as in his thunderous, bass-heavy clusters. But he's equally at home with a more gentle lyricism, demonstrating the influence of classical composers like Chopin and Liszt. Now at long last--thanks in part to his official designation as the cultural ambassador of Flanders--he's developing a presence stateside. He performed earlier this year at the Empty Bottle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music, both solo and in an explosive trio with reedist-trumpeter Joe McPhee and drummer Paul Lovens. And he's released a spate of stunning recordings recently, including the brand-new Suite for B...City (FMP), a sprawling five-part suite rendered with excitement and sensitivity by a nine-piece group that includes saxophonist John Butcher and trombonists Paul Rutherford and Johannes Bauer. Here van Hove will again perform solo, and if the concert he gave this past May is any indication of what's in store, expect to walk away happily pooped. Tuesday, 8 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park; 708-383-8873. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Bill Smith.

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