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The Complete Vogel Recordings

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Album Review

The Complete Vogel Recordings collects the total LP output of Belgian free jazz piano improviser Fred Van Hove for the European label Vogel Records. Recorded between 1972 and 1974, this recording includes two solo albums, Fred Van Hove and Live at the University, plus one duet album with tenor saxophonist Cel Overberghe, Een Tweede Vogel, and both sides of an extremely rare 1973 Van Hove/Overberghe single. All three albums are exceedingly rare, and the two solo albums are intriguing showcases of Van Hove's early improvisatory style, which matches the restless explorations of Paul Bley and the playful melodicism of prime Bill Evans to John Cage's avant-garde philosophies. The prepared-piano pieces mostly feature the sound of a box of ping-pong balls dumped on top of the strings, which creates an interesting, occasionally amusing, effect of sympathetic vibrations as they bounce up and down on nearby strings as the hammers hit. However, the most satisfying recordings are the duets with Overberghe, which range from standard saxophone and piano improvs to more intriguing experiments with tape music and musique concrete, and even some artsy attempts at a sort of free jazz fusion, with Van Hove and Overberghe overdubbing bass and drums (neither of which they're proficient at) onto pre-existing duets. The results often sound like particularly chaotic rehearsals by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, which is a good thing. Those familiar only with Fred Van Hove's later work — which would be most of his fans, as these albums were impossible to locate for decades — will find The Complete Vogel Recordings a fascinating history lesson.


Born: 19 February 1937 in Antwerp, Belgium

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Fred Van Hove studied theory, harmony, and piano at the Music Academy in Belgium and began playing professionally in 1964. He experimented with various jazz and dance music idioms before adopting free improvisation as his principal mode of expression. Van Hove began playing with saxophonist Peter Brötzmann in 1966. Their collaboration took different forms, eventually settling into a trio format with drummer Han Bennink, which lasted approximately five years. The solo format would become important...
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The Complete Vogel Recordings, Fred Van Hove
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