Peter Van Bergen

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Unlike their American counterparts, European free jazz musicians typically move in "new music" circles without fear of losing their credibility as jazz artists. It seems as if the stateside preoccupation…
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Unlike their American counterparts, European free jazz musicians typically move in "new music" circles without fear of losing their credibility as jazz artists. It seems as if the stateside preoccupation with maintaining jazz's stylistic purity is not an issue with the music's practitioners on the other side of the Atlantic. The Dutch saxophonist Peter van Bergen is a prime example of this; not only does he regularly collaborate with some of the world's finest and best-known free jazz musicians (for example: Cecil Taylor, Misha Mengelberg, Anthony Braxton, Han Bennink), he also is an accomplished performer of contemporary composed music by the likes of Louis Andriessen, Guus Janssen, Georg Katzer, Huib Emmer, Cornelis de Bondt, and Paul Termos.

Van Bergen studied at the Royal Music Conservatory in The Hague from 1980-1985 and with the renowned improvising saxophonist Evan Parker from 1990-1992. He's been a member of the Maarten Altena Ensemble since 1985 and has performed with the European Improvisers Orchestra, the John Carter Project, and Cecil Taylor's European Orchestra. In 1987, van Bergen received the Dutch national Podium Prize for Jazz and Improvised music. Van Bergen's wide-ranging experimental performance group LOOS is an example of his stylistic breadth; the group, founded by the saxophonist in 1982, incorporates the most modern technology with music and other creative disciplines (dance, theater, visual). LOOS maintains four permanent -- if not necessarily discrete -- areas of activity, which are roughly: music that's composed and improvised, wind music that's composed, improvised electronic music, and "all kinds of concepts," meaning, one supposes, whatever else they can think of. The organization has organized many festivals and released a number of CDs on various labels, including the Chicago-based Okkadisc. In 1985, LOOS received the Ooeyevaer Prize by the City of The Hague and in 2000 was awarded the GeNeCoPrize (Dutch Composers Prize). The organization has plans to begin its own record label in 2001.