Boom Crane – Reviews


January 15th, 2015 – Touching Extremes, Italy –
click here for full article

Boom Crane – review by Massimo Ricci
“After nearly a year from the release of Boom Crane, and having this commentator granted a sizeable amount of analysis to its content over the last days, what the mind sees is a contradiction of sorts between the album’s title – implying a devastating power, on paper – and the disciplined lucidity that permeates the trio’s interplay, aligning the music to areas not exactly neighboring with blaring fury and crumbling walls.

This CD is, by all means, an illustration of how jazz can evolve bit by bit through the addition of compositional factors unheralded in such a context (say, a fast alteration of both tempo and velocity inside an apparently natural swinging constitution, as occurring in “Automatic Vaudeville”). It is also a way to inspire the listener to abandon – at least for an hour or so – the classic “glass-in-the-hand, head-oscillating-to-the-pulse” attitude concomitant to analogous environments.”

December, 2014 – Freejazz Blog, US – Albums of the year
Boom Crane #7 – list by Troy Dostert

October 15th, 2014 – Tomajazz, Spain –

Boom Crane – review by Pachi Tapiz
“Tras Boom Crane están el saxofonista (y aquí clarinetista) Peter van Huffel (líder de los potentes Gorilla Mask), el contrabajista Michael Bates y el baterista Jeff Davis. En su estreno homónimo en Fresh Sound New Talent, los tres músicos despliegan una propuesta potente compuesta por temas propios (todos ellos aportan tanto piezas individuales como temas colectivos) que suena plenamente actual. Boom Crane es un power trio que se inspira en la música y en músicos de la talla de John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk u Ornette Coleman. “More Room” suena potente y deja clara la propuesta del grupo desde el inicio del disco. Tras la monkiana “Jest”, se suceden “Automatic Vaudeville” y “Not A Living Soul” con un swing inapelable en el que hay espacio para unos grandes solos, como el que protagoniza el contrabajista en la segunda de estas piezas. Tras esta demostración de potencia inicial, el grupo cambia de registro con el tiempo medio “Tower In The Trees” (en la que Peter van Huffel cambia su habitual saxo por el clarinete), y el blues que da tanto el nombre al grupo como el título a su estreno discográfico. En este momento las credenciales ya están presentadas. En los últimos cinco temas se vuelven a suceder piezas potentes (que no dejan de mirar a la apertura que proporciona el dejarse llevar por los terrenos del free) y tiempos medios. Como colofón, el tema de clara inspiración ornettiana “Fast And Flurious”. Magnífico el estreno de este grupo, que muestra la variedad de terrenos por los que se mueven tanto Peter van Huffel (especialmente si se compara este con algún otro de sus proyectos), como Michael Bates y Jeff Davis.”

October, 2014 – Whole Note / Jazz Word, Canada- &

Boom Crane – review by Ken Waxman
“Providing an unassailable musical instance of Equilibrium, “a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced” – also the title of one composition on this incisive CD – is the intuitive skill of two expatriate Canadians and one American. In fact, such is the dexterity ofthe trio in negotiating moods and tempos on Boom Crane’s 11 selections that Boom Crane (the band) sounds like a full-time working group. In truth the three convene infrequently, since Kingston, Ontario-born alto saxophonist/clarinetist Peter Van Huffel is in Berlin; while B.C. native, bassist Michael Bates lives in Brooklyn as does Yank drummer Jeff Davis. Actually titled On Equilibrium, the track perfectly syncs vibrating reed slurs, beefy string pumps and drum pops, but that’s only one of the trio’s attributes. Besides Van Huffel’s warm clarinet tone used on a couple of occasions to wiggle out unmatched balladic interpretations, his biting alto lines equally illuminate bop, blues and experimental forays. Sharp and tense, the title tun is a stop-time blues which distends without ever splintering and features Blake’s comfortable but commanding strumming. Dissonant Slipper Hero showcases hollow breaths forced through the saxophone alongside double-stopping arco string buzzes until Davis’ amiable swing beat helps guide the others towards an electrifying communicative finale.

On Automatic Vaudeville apparently The Jazz Messenger must operate in that venerable tradition, since Bates’ walking bass and Van Huffel’s buoyant note jumps reference hard bop. Later reed squeaks and string pops confirm the tune’s modernity, plus the time is slyly doubled until variations lead back to the initial theme. But perhaps the most characteristic track is Not A Living Soul. Another exercise in shifting tempos, its centrepiece is Bates’ dark, extended bass solo. It separates with skill the herky-jerky, flutter-tongued sax-led beginning and the blended conclusion of graceful cymbal vibrations, supple reed trills and bass string resonations.

A notable debut disc that calls for celebration not boom lowering on the trio, the CD’s tunes and the band can be experienced in Toronto this month.”

July 5th, 2014 – Perfect Sounds, Norway –

Fave Music January to July 2014. Top 35 Albums: by Chris Monsen
“A late discovery in the S/B/D trio format is Berlin based Canadian Peter Van Huffel’s Boom Crane (Fresh Sound New Talent), who together with bassist Michael Bates and drummer Jeff Davies whips up some very exctiting freewheeling and booming yet catchy and at times even funky postbop that has hardly left my stereo in week.”

June 30th, 2014 – Free Jazz Blog, Belgium/USA –

Review by Antonio Poscic
“Every once in a while I’ll start asking myself about what I expect from new music. Should each record try to break new grounds, establish various paradigm shifts, or is it enough to want more of the same, more of the music that I’m comfortable listening to? The great thing about albums such as Peter Van Huffel’s Boom Crane is that it brings a bit of both of those things to the table and makes me forget the question I was pondering over in the first place. It makes me just enjoy the great tunes.

Boom Crane is a frolic record and a debut album that any band could wish for. The trio of Peter Van Huffel on alto saxophone and clarinet, Michael Bates on bass, and Jeff Davis on drums indulge in an incredibly joyful, powerful display of a multitude of styles within jazz whilst also adding touches of their own in the mix. Something old, something new, something unexpected, “Boom Crane” is, at its best, an incredible explosion of sound and expression sprinkled with many twists and surprises. The musicians build and drive their music with sudden tempo changes and weird time signatures, while also playing with the most diverse jazz idioms which, in turn, results in a fusion of epochs and forms, from post-bop to swing. This is not free jazz in the strictest sense, but it surely does feel liberated…”

June 2014 – Jazz Magazine, France – Rayon Disques

Tiens donc : deux albums qui sortent sur le même label, enregistrés à quelques mois d’intervalle dans le même studio par le même ingénieur du son, par deux trios à la configuration identique constitués de musiciens issus de la même génération évoluant dans la même zone géographique, avec des influences et préoccupations esthétiques très semblables, et avec un répertoire constitué uniquement de compositions personnelles… Le fait que “Boom Crane” désigne un collectif (Peter Van Huffel, Michael Bates, Jeff Davis) et que l’’autre album, “Gone”, soit publié sous le nom du contrebassiste David Ambrosio ne constitue pas non plus une réelle différence : dans les deux cas, tous les musiciens composent, et le saxophoniste se retrouve protagoniste principal, Peter Van Huffel penchant du côté d’Ornette et de Kenny Garrett, Loren Stillman plus vers Lee Konitz. Dans les deux trios, on a affaire à des musiciens qui, selon l’expression convenue, ont “le défaut de leurs qualités” : maîtrise instrumentale impeccable, connaissance solide de la tradition et de ses ramifications post-hard bop, libertaires sans vraiment aller jusqu’au free, swing et qualités d’écriture indéniables. On serait tenté de faire un rapprochement avec la génération des jeunes lions revival des années 1980, à ceci près que la plupart des musiciens présents sur ces deux cd se retrouvent également impliqués dans des contextes beaucoup plus expérimentaux de la scène underground new-yorkaise (musiques électro, influences du rock indépendant…). Une musique qui sent le diplômé et qui ne fait pas vraiment avancer le schmilblick. • PASCAL SÉGALA

June 5th, 2014 – Step Tempest, USA –

Review by Richard B. Kamins
“Boom Crane” is the name for the trio that includes Peter Van Huffel (alto saxophone), Michael Bates (bass) and Jeff Davis (drums) – it is also the name of the trio’s debut CD on the Fresh Sound/New Talent label.  As someone brought up on great trio recordings such as “The Freedom Suite” by Sonny Rollins (with Max Roach and Oscar Pettiford) and “Air Time” (the cooperative trio of Henry Threadgill, Steve McCall and Fred Hopkins), I must admit to measuring every sax trio I have heard since then on those albums.

To my ears, Boom Crane rates high because their approach fuses the 2 styles heard on the albums and makes it sound new and quite.  The rhythms section plays with great verve throughout, offering the saxophonist not only a solid foundation but excellent sparring partners…

June 3rd, 2014 – Something Else Reviews, USA – by S. Victor Aaron
“There are a lot of expectations that come from a trio where each player has already established himself as a leader and composer, and so the Boom Crane band — Peter Van Huffel, Michael Bates and Jeff Davis — has a lot to live up to. Upon first hearing the muscular bass of Bates, Davis flogging a persistent swing beat into submission and Van Huffel topping it all off with a layer of cool refreshing alto sax, I quickly got the feeling that this band was gonna be as good as their individual names advertised.

And that was just from the first song…”

June 1st , 2014 – All About Jazz, USA – by Glen Astarita

Berlin-based saxophonist, composer Peter Van Huffel is the lead voice on Boom Crane’s debut outing, featuring the dynamo rhythm section of New York residents, bassist Michael Bates and drummer Jeff Davis. As one would anticipate, the saxophonist imparts his creatively focused, restless nature into the grand schema. He’s a mover and shaker via his unwieldy theme- construction exercises, spiked with off-center time signatures and animated voicings, often flanked with iron-fisted chutzpah and exceptional fluency. Hence, the musicians go full steam ahead by integrating a free-form hue into these byzantine and rather unconventional jaunts.

The element of surprise underscores the album. On “Automatic Vaudeville,” Bates launches a sturdy walking bass line, summoning a mid-tempo swing vamp, and followed by Van Huffel’s sanguine phrasings amid an easy-going gait. He establishes a sinuous melody and takes his time, but as history would dictate, he re-energizes the primary motif; raises the pitch, and takes matters to the next level. The trio shifts into double-time and cycles through fiery pulses, resulting in yet another source of interest. Here and throughout the program, the musicians tender the antithesis to common jazz fare along with their superb musicianship, wily digressions and striking interactions.

May, 2014 – LongPlay, Poland –

BOOM CRANE – Peter Van Huffel / Michael Bates / Jeff Davis (Fresh Sound/New Talent) – Review by Robert Ratajczak

May 8th, 2014 – All About Jazz, USA – Review by Mark Corroto

Pity the neighbors of the jazz trio Boom Crane. It’s not that their garage band approach to music making is off-putting or offensive, it’s that the ferocity of their approach is just so demanding. Saxophonist Peter Van Huffel’s New York trio of Michael Bates (bass) and Jeff Davis (drums) release this, their inaugural recording, as a purely leaderless effort. Each player contributes music here, and thankfully the engineer has mixed the sound to feature this egalitarian trio.

The disc opens with “More Room,” the only wholly free jazz piece on the recording. That’s significant because the remainder of the music is rigorously form-fitted compositions that threaten to implode, or maybe explode?

May 2nd, 2014 – Culture Jazz, France – Review by Thierry Giard

Nous suivons depuis 2010 le saxophoniste canadien (installé à Berlin) Peter Van Huffel. Son disque “Like the Rusted Key” avait reçu un Oui enthousiaste ! Tous ses projets sont dignes du plus grand intérêt et celui-ci a été enregistré dans le New Jersey avec Michael Bates, contrebassiste connu en France pour son travail avec le collectif Imuzzic et l’excellent batteur Jeff Davis. La formule du trio sax-basse-batterie est souvent périlleuse mais avec des musiciens de cette trempe, c’est un vrai régal. Michael Bates donne le ton dès l’introduction et prépare la voie pour le saxophoniste qu’il pousse dans ses retranchements. Un jeu à trois sans temps morts place cette musique, pourtant exigeante, à un haut niveau.

April, 2014 – Dragonjazz, Belgium – Review by Pierre Dulieu

Les trois premiers titres More, Jest et Automatic Vaudeville génèrent une intensité cyclonique. A la fois abstraite, précise et nerveuse, la musique évoque une foule de références qui vont de Jackie McLean à Ornette Coleman en passant par Steve Coleman. Le contrebassiste, le batteur et le saxophoniste alto entretiennent une relation marquée par des années d’écoute et d’échange si bien que les interactions sont portées à un niveau maximum d’incandescence, renforçant la cohésion et la densité de ce jazz urbain qui grouille de vie à l’instar de cette mégapole newyorkaise où il est né. Sur Not A Living Soul, Van Huffel a accroché bout à bout de multiples sections aux tempos variables qui s’enchaînent comme les épisodes imprévisibles d’un feuilleton speedé. Dans cette arcane sonore, le saxophone part en errance sans retenue ni filet avant d’exploser tel une scène ultra-violente d’un long métrage de Quentin Tarentino. La composition défile ensuite comme un road movie où se succèdent périodes intenses et moments de calme précaires. Après ce flux torrentiel, Tower In The Trees apparaît comme un interlude bienvenu. Interprété à la clarinette, la composition explore un univers vaguement mystérieux, installant un climat un peu inquiétant dont on regrette seulement qu’il ne dure pas plus longtemps. Le trio continue par la suite à délivrer avec véhémence un jazz moderne et pétri de références à ce que cette musique offre de plus novateur, mais aussi imprévisible et varié. Ainsi, en vrac : le titre éponyme rappelle le discours de Coltrane période Impulse!; Slipper Hero est rehaussé par un beau solo à l’archet de Michael Bates; Talk To Me, qui débute comme une ballade, tombe dans un crescendo hallucinant bâti autour du phrasé prolixe de Van Huffel; Equilibrium est une autre composition à tiroirs alternant guerre et paix dans une construction sophistiquée; et le bien nommé Fast And Furious, qui clôt cet album, n’est qu’un cri libertaire en parfaite communion avec celui de cet indomptable du free jazz que fut Albert Ayler. Et puis, au milieu de tout ça, il y a cette fantastique improvisation collective sur ce thème cosmique intitulé Quasar d’où se détache une clarinette tout en rondeur d’ébène, enfin sereine et apaisée. Un grand merci au label Fresh Sound qui ose encore donner la parole à des formations aussi novatrices, brillantes et captivantes que celle-ci.