Fred Van Hove

Passing Waves

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Passing Waves Review

by Michael G. Nastos

There are few, if any other creative improvising pianists who can match or surpass what Belgian native Van Hove has been and continues to be capable of over the past four decades. His amazing sheer ability and wealth of ideas approach Zen, going on and on without end. There are some aspects of this solo piano recording where Van Hove uses extended techniques to create otherworldly space music, but for the most part he plays distinguishable acoustic piano chords and lines in and out of time, melodic, or harmonic concepts. Be prepared for an astounding experience. Van Hove starts with the slowly tumbling melodies, intense with single line, rambling arpeggios on the Niagara-inspired "The Great Falls." Scattered stop-start improvs, quick and lithe, at many times dense and hyperactive all over the keys in 16th note flurries, signify both "In Depth Investigation" and the tone poem for the Windy City where this disc was recorded, "Chic a Gogo," the latter also including wild arpeggios and juggernaut-like stomping, hard edged chords. In 2/4 "Summer's Time" turns the Gershwin evergreen macabre and unrecognizably distended, using slight "Girl From Ipanema" references and choppy, playful, but ultimately Weill-ish circus noir phraseology. "Neat Knead" is exactly what Van Hove is doing throughout this piece, use your imagination. An abstract selection of chords juxtaposition and cluster from both extreme ends of the piano informs "Bizarre Bazaar," very fast execution of purely improvised, romping 16th notes is the basis for "Triple Play," and hands combing back and forth comprise the bulk of the make-up of "A Non-Severe Thunderstorm." At his most melodic, the meditational 2/4-3/4 "Almost Indian Song" is easy to follow even for the uninitiated, while at his most inventive and challenged, Van Hove bounces a billiard ball on the inner piano strings, triggering a trilling effect, sometimes chiming or harp/dulcimer-like, raking and scraping, evoking sitar sounds, straight ringing piano notes, or haunting ghostly overtones in this multi-thematic piece justly titled "Compromising Positions." This is highly recommended for longtime admirers of the extraordinary master Van Hove, while those who seek an utterly unique creative improviser may find a new hero in these 72 minutes of truly original music.

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