Biography

“Saxophonist Peter Van Huffel may be one of the most intense performers on [his] instrument…” (Raul d’Gama, All About Jazz). He has played an active role in many of the world’s top jazz scenes, and has performed and led numerous tours across Europe, the US and his native Canada. Steve Smith of Time Out New York refers to Peter as “a compelling melodist with a fiery outward- bound streak and a penchant for layering opposed rhythms in quirky, compelling ways…” and Wilbur MacKenzie of The New York City Jazz Record (formerly All About Jazz-NY) has said “Van Huffel’s playing… is richly nuanced, with melody and texture seamlessly integrated to create colorful and evocative statements.”

A prolific saxophonist, clarinetist and composer, Peter Van Huffel appears frequently in all sorts of ensembles and musical settings with musicians from around the world. His primary project – the punk-jazz trio GORILLA MASK with bassist Roland Fidezius and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner – has been active since 2009 and has performed at many of the most recognized venues across Europe and first toured across Canada in 2013. They released their debut CD, “HOWL!”, in 2012 on the German label “Between the Lines”, and have since released two more albums with the acclaimed Portuguese label “Clean Feed Records” – “Bite My Blues” (2014) and “Iron Lung” (2017) which was also released in LP format. Each of Gorilla Mask’s releases has received rave reviews, as well as honourable mentions and features in radio and print media around the world.

Peter’s latest musical endeavour is an octet project featuring an international cast of musicians based in and around Berlin. The compositions and musical direction of his octet stem from two previous ensembles which he co-led with Belgian vocalist Sophie Tassignon: the Berlin based House of Mirrors – a chamber style group featuring pianist Julie Sassoon and bassist Meinrad Kneer (originally Miles Perkin), which can be heard on their 2014 release “Act One”; and HuffLiGNoN with bassist Michael Bates and trombonist Samuel Blaser, which released it’s debut album on “Clean Feed” in 2008 to outstanding reviews including a Disque d’Émoi from France’s Jazz Magazine – one of the magazine’s top monthly mentions. The Peter Van Huffel Octet was premiered in April 2017 in Berlin, and has plans for more upcoming performances and an album release in 2019.

In 2009, Peter developed an international quartet featuring musicians from all over the globe who came together in Berlin and Cologne to record Peter’s second disc for Fresh Sound Records, “Like the Rusted Key”. In 2010, this international quartet, (featuring New York pianist Jesse Stacken, bassist Miles Perkin, and Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer), followed the release of their critically acclaimed CD with a series of four tours across Europe and a cross-Canada tour which included performances at some of Canada’s top jazz festivals. Previously, Peter led the New York based PVH Quintet with Jesse Stacken, Scott DuBois, Michael Bates and Jeff Davis during his 2002-08 NYC residency. The group held regular performances at such New York staples as the 55 Bar, The Tea Lounge and the Cornelia Street Café, and toured Canada frequently. They can be heard on Peter’s 2007 Fresh Sound Records release, “Silvester Battlefield” and on their 2005 independent release “On Common Ground”.

Aside from GORILLA MASK, Peter is currently active with a slew of other projects including the Berlin duo KRONIX with Canadian-Ukrainian guitarist Alex Maksymiw – which released their debut CD on Fresh Sound records in early 2016; the New-York based trio BOOM CRANE, featuring Michael Bates (bass) and Jeff Davis (drums) which released its debut CD in 2014 (also on Fresh Sound/New Talent); the Berlin based collaborative trio The Scrambling EX with legendary German guitarist Andreas Willers and NYC drummer Devin Gray; the Meinrad Kneer Quintet; and most recently Lunar Mansions – a collaborative quartet with American guitarist Dan Nettles, bassist Roland Fidezius and Irish drummer Sean Carpio.

Aside from Peter’s extensive discography as a bandleader, he can be heard on the 2006 release by the New York trio ANIMAL FORUM; two discs by NYC based guitarist Lily Maase; a re-scored DVD/CD release of the Buster Keaton film “Steamboat Bill Jr.” by guitarist Dan Nettles as well as Dan’s recent vinyl releases “Inside Voices” and “Outside Choices” (2015) with his regular ensemble Kenosha Kid; the 2014 release GrunGrauBraun on Gligg Records by the German ensemble HUM; and his debut CD from 2003, “Mind Over Matter” featuring his early Toronto-based ensemble. Peter also performs frequently with a number of other musicians from Europe, North America and beyond in variety of improvised and original-music settings.

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Musician / Composer