Like the Rusted Key – Reviews


2010 – Jazz Man “CHOC” Review by Franck Bergerot
Peter Van Huffel Quartet, “Like the Rusted Key”

Philippe Méziat avait attribué un “émoi” à Peter Van Huffell et à la chanteuse belge Sophie Tassignon pour leur “Hufflington” chez Clean Feed. Le nouveau quartette du saxophoniste témoigne du rôle de Berlin comme carrefour et élargit le spectre du jazz new-yorkais tel que représenté sur la collection New Talent. Originaire du Minnesota, Jesse Stacken est à New York un partenaire régulier du trompettiste Kirk Knuffke (également Choc dans ces pages). Samuel Rohrer se fait entendre en Suisse auprès de Malcolm Braff. Miles Perkin s’est fait connaître à Montréal et collabore avec Benoît Delbecq au sein d’un quartette franco-anglo-canadien. Le quartette de Van Huffel s’impose quant à lui par un admirable équilibre entre l’abstraction et la “figuration” mélodique. En ouverture, la ligne claire de Prift déborde progressivement de ses contours par un grossissement du trait qui exalte sa dimension lyrique et son aspiration au débord, tandis que les angularités interrogatives de Tangent superposent ses bégaiements mélodiques à des accents rythmico-harmoniques d’une puissante décontraction. Le saxophone oscille entre des logiques de phrasé évocatrices de Steve Coleman (Enghavevej sur une rythmique bondissante (que ne renierait pas le trio d’Andy Emler) et des expressions plus fauves qui nous rapprocheraient d’une lignée Hemphill- Berne, avec un batteur tenant à la fois de Hank Bennink et de Tom Rainey. Les étirements d’Excerpt Two, les élans rubato de Beast I, le presque rien de Melancholic, la supplique de Beast II, l’inquiétude d’Atonement, l’ascension fiévreuse du saxophone sur Backward Momentum captivent autant par l’indicible sentiment qui nous saisit que par les moyens très organiques que se donnent ces musiciens pour nous étreindre. Les sites et myspace de Peter Van Huffel et Jesse Stacken méritent le détour et nos lecteurs suisses ne manqueront pas d’entendre ce quartette à l’AMR de Genève le 14 mai. k FRANCK BERGEROT

OCTOBER, 2010 – Whole Note Magazine :
“It’s Our Jazz” Review by Geoff Chapman
“One-time Torontonian Peter Van Huffel, who toured his band through Canada this summer, now performs in Berlin after a New York stint. Pity if you missed him – this group is terrific. The alto saxist wrote all 10 tunes on Peter Van Huffel Quartet “Like the Rusted Key” (Fresh Sound/New Talent FSNT361 and they’re an invigorating blast of originality in an era when many struggle to find a singular voice. The ingenious material, mostly out of left field, is well executed by lively colleagues – American pianist Jesse Stacken, Canadian bassist Miles Perkin and Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer – so that at times it sounds like four soloists in action. Pugnacious opener Drift precedes the dark, disquieting Tangent , while other tracks build and release tension, create a multi-hued sonic tapestry and properly judge climactic accents – all evident on Enghavevej. Three pieces with Beast in the title are free jazz assaults, while elsewhere Van Huffel’s mercurial, vibrant tones excite. Havens of calm exist but even on Atonement the music is charged with extreme shifts of mood and velocity.”

OCTOBER 2010 – Cadence Magazine Review by Dave Dupont
Peter Van Huffel Quartet : “Like the Rusted Key”
“Like Anneler, fellow alto saxophonist and composer Van Huffel employs avant-garde techniques and elements of contemporary Classical music to the pieces on Like a Rusted Key. Van Huffel is very much an expressionist. His music has a bite and edge, and often threatens to veer into atonality. Sometimes he just starts there, as on “Backward Momentum.” He also shows a desire for creating the kind of unity found in through-composed music within an improvising ensemble. The closer, “Atonement,” has the leader and bassist Perkin (using a bow) playing together, never wandering more than a few notes from each other as the yearning melody, like the slow movement of a raga, continues to unfold and lap back over itself. “Melancholic” is a series of chords struck and then, over the next 20 or more seconds, left to decay. The piano introduces the idea, but, over the course of the almost 10 minute track, the leader’s saxophone, bowed cymbal, and bowed bass stagger in. These experiments are presaged by the small sounds in the first seconds of Like the Rusted Key, but almost two minutes in Van Huffel introduces a minor melody, safe enough except for the way the penultimate phrase seems to veer away from the tonality, before the song resolves. Perkin extends the piquant melody into his solo over a march beat from Rohrer. By the time the leader solos, the bass and drums are rolling, providing a strong rhythmic current over which Van Huffel blows, leaving space early on for their commentary to shine through. As he does throughout, pianist Jesse Stacken pounds out ringing dense figures. The leader also intersperses freer fragments—those with beast in the title—throughout the set. The session is held together by the leader’s ardor, reflected in his frequent use of minor modes, and the vigorous, colorful playing by all hands. Though clearly well-conceived, the quartet manages to make the music sound raw and urgent. Another intriguing release.”

SUMMER, 2010 – JazzReview.Com Review by Dave Wayne
Peter Van Huffel Quartet : “Like the Rusted Key”
Like The Rusted Key is one of those recordings that approaches the vast array of musics that have been lumped under the umbrella of modern jazz from a dizzying array of angles using a pretty standard instrumentation. Peter Van Huffel, who hails from Canada but is based in Berlin, is an alto saxophonist with a visceral, muscular approach and a distinctive, full-throated sound. Like many players of his generation, he works with (or leads) several very different groups that cover the musical spectrum from chamber-improv (with vocalist Sophie Tassignon), to frenetic free jazz (with his electric trio, Gorilla Mask). The quartet featured on Like The Rusted Key comes from a more traditional place but offers a broad musical palette, breathing swinging, pulsing life into Van Huffel’s seemingly endless wealth of interesting compositional ideas.

‘Drift’ opens the CD with what sounds at first like a particularly strong offering on the ECM label – a stochastic pinging of damped piano keys, bass harmonics and tiny percussion sounds gives way to a chiming piano figure and Van Huffel’s brooding melody. Samuel Rohrer builds a moderate tempo rhythm that isn’t quite rock but isn’t quite jazz either, and supports Miles Perkin’s bass solo perfectly. I really enjoyed the way that Rohrer’s playing builds behind Van Huffel’s razor-sharp solo, which, in turn benefits from pianist Jesse Stacken’s unusual but extremely effective comping. Now, on a typical jazz CD, the remainder of the tunes would be more or less similar in nature. No so on Like The Rusted Key. ‘Intro to Beast’ is a very angular free improv that quickly gives way to the highoctane excitement of ‘Tangent,’ a gripping, dynamic, and somewhat unhinged piece that reminded me a bit of some of John Hollenbeck’s work with the Claudia Quintet. But Van Huffel and his group play with a wild and wooly energy that contrasts sharply with Hollenbeck’s polished, cool efficiency. ‘Enghavevej’ is quite a bit different as well, sporting a jauntily rocking pulse and a melody that straddles the line between cheery and manic. Stacken’s solo here is full of Monk-like wit and derring-do, and Rohrer’s drumming is too busy in the best possible way. ‘Backward Momentum’ is another real stunner – with Rohrer’s seemingly random percussion gradually coalescing into an urgent rhythm behind Van Huffel’s piquant melody. Stacken has another brilliant solo feature before the tune changes into a dark, visceral post-bop romp.

The rest of Like The Rusted Key is similarly impressive, inspired, and varied. ‘Beast I’ and ‘Beast II,’ as ‘Intro to Beast’ suggests, are free-ish pieces with asymmetric, Ornette-like melodies suspended over Rohrer’s slashing cymbals and criss-crossing polyrhythms. ‘Beast II” features some really distinctive, and quite beautiful, playing by bassist Miles Perkin. While I am attracted to the energetic aspects of Van Huffel’s music, this CD also offers some pretty unusual twists on what some might consider the ballad form. The dark, elegiac ‘Excerpt Two’ sounds a bit like a Gregorian Chant, with growling arco and softly malleted drums and cymbals providing a diffuse backdrop to the saxophone and piano. ‘Atonement’ is even darker and more haunting, with a molasses-slow but drop-dead beautiful melody intoned by Van Huffel and Perkin’s bowed bass. The CD’s most unusual track, however, is ‘Melancholic.’ Here, Stacken plays a series of isolated piano chords that have approximately 20 seconds of silence intervening. After about three minutes, Van Huffel picks up one note of the chord and extends it a few seconds out into the silence – venturing out farther each time. As Perkin, almost inaudibly, joins Van Huffel, the pattern is disrupted somewhat as the piano, saxophone, and arco bass begin to operate more independently. While this is not the sort of thing you’d want to listen to in a car, the overall effect is pretty sublime, and seems more akin to the work of Morton Feldman than jazz of any stripe.

Like The Rusted Key is a thoroughly engrossing document of a little-known, but flat-out amazing quartet of musicians who play as if their lives – and ours – depended on it. I came away from from this CD both inspired and impressed. Easily one of the most rewarding listening experiences I’ve had this year. Fresh Sounds, New Talent indeed!

AUGUST 11, 2010 – FNAC! Client Review : Peter Van Huffel et sa promenade musicale pleine de surprises!
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“De par toutes les critiques déjà écrites pour ses albums précédents, l’arrivée de ce nouvel opus a tout de suite capté mon attention.

Peter Van Huffel (saxophoniste alto, canadien et berlinois d’adoption) est accompagné ici par un très inventif Jesse Stacken (pianiste), Samuel Rohrer (batteur trappu et vivant), et Miles Perkin (bassiste, très porté sur l’archet).
Il faut noter d’entrée la grande inventivité rythmique et mélodique et là, ça m’a vraiment scotché ! …”

JUNE 16, 2010 – The Province (Vancouver) Review by Stuart Derdeyn

(Fresh Sound/New Talent)

On his seventh disc, German-based Canadian saxophonist Van Huffel leads his slightly re-jigged quartet through 10 originals. Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer, New York pianist Jesse Stacken and Canuck bassist Miles Perkin (replacing Michael Bates), add feel and flow to every moment on the session too. The opening “Drift,” is aptly named, as the group ebbs and flows into a series of flights exploring the pulsing rhythmic centre of the song. For once, it isn’t wrong to use angular to describe the staccato structure of “Tangent,” where the interplay between Rohrer and Stacken is particularly lively. Throughout, the leader blows hard and heavy, with frequent circular blasts of rising intensity in “Melancholic” that won’t let you go. At just over an hour, this is one intense and rewarding session. And exactly where to put the intermission break in a two set show.


JUNE, 2010 – Jazz ‘N More (Switzerland) Review by Jürg Solothurnmann

Like The Rusted Key: Peter Van Huffel (as), Jesse Stacken (p), Miles Perkin (b), Samuel Rohrer (dr)  (Fresh Sound FSNT 361/Plainisphare)
Der in Berlin lebende kanadische Altsaxophonist Van Huffel ist ein begabter Melodiker mit einem kernigen Ton. Besonders auffällig ist aber die Weise, wie er mittels klaren Aufgabenverteilungen seine kontrastreichen, profilierten Kompositionen mit den Improvisationsprozessen eng verbindet. Mit seinem neuen kanadisch-amerikanisch schweizerischen Quartett präsentiert er zehn Kompositionen mit klaren Ideen, die Errungenschaften von Postbop, Free und Moderner Klassik assimilieren. Im einleitenden „Drift“ ergeben das lange Thema und die Improvisationen eine grosse dynamische Kurve. Daran schliesst sich – total anders eine funkelnde freie Improvisations-Skizze an. In „Tangent“ wird das spezielle Thema mit repetierten Tönen in schnellem Wechselmetrum mit den Improvisationen verschränkt. „Enghavevej“ jongliert über einem pumpendem Rhythmus mit Dolphy-haft verdrehten weiten Tonsprüngen, worauf statisch das elegische „Excerpt Two“ folgt. Bis zum Schluss gehen Van Huffel die Ideen nie aus, und an der starken Realisierung dieser Aufnahmen hat die engagierte Band einen grossen Anteil. Besonders auffällig der Pianist Stacken, der allerlei Trümpfe im Aermel hat. Es lohnt sich, diese CD zu suchen. JS

May, 2010 – All About Jazz New York Review by Stuart Broomer
Peter Van Huffel Quartet, “Like the Rusted Key”
Peter Van Huffel is a Canadian-born alto saxist who recently settled in Berlin after a six-year period in New York. His new quartet reflects all of those geographic connections, bringing together New York pianist Jesse Stacken, a mainstay of Van Huffel’s New York quintet, Canadian bassist Miles Perkin and the Swiss-born, Berlin-resident drummer Samuel Rohrer. To call Van Huffel a ‘composer’ in the casual parlance of jazz is almost a misnomer. He really composes, almost every piece a tautly structured individual work that provides strong thematic material and impetus for the improvising. The opening “Drift” makes subtle shifts in tonality, working from an initial toy-piano tinkling to cover a spectrum from Far- to Middle East and on. The moody “Melancholic” unfolds with a glacial architecture in which sounds and time are suspended while the closing “Atonement” is at once brooding and radiant, the almost liturgical alto line shot through with the bass’ soaring harmonics. It is music of real power, with Van Huffel’s alto always possessed of a focused clarity, a vision of linear necessity. His sense of compositional form and his intense playing are essentially complementary, their interdependence notable on complex structures like “Backward Momentum”. Stacken’s piano is a source of tremendous momentum, his dense, rhythmically explosive playing sometimes invoking the drive and complexity of early Cecil Taylor. He thrives particularly on the pointillistic “Tangent” and in the “Beast” series that arises throughout the CD and which alternately emphasizes tensile formal structures and free improvisation. Perkin is particularly adept at bowed passages and Rohrer is a complete percussionist, whether driving the group dialogues or creating glittering soundscapes with various metal instruments. The band is every bit the equal of Van Huffel’s compositions, creating its own continuous dialogue and highly developed identity to reshape the music into a complete and collective expression.

April 22, 2010 – Tomajazz Review by Pachi Tapiz
Peter Van Huffel Quartet, “Like the Rusted Key”

Tras publicar el pasado año en Clean Feed Hufflignon, su proyecto como co-líder con la cantante Sophie Tassignon, el canadiense Peter van Huffel se estrena en Fresh Sound New Talent con su nuevo cuarteto. El resultado, Like the Rusted Key, es un CD más que interesante, que debiera servir para llamar la atención sobre el trabajo de este saxofonista.
Autor de todas las composiciones, en ésta su séptima grabación, sus ideas llegan a buen puerto gracias a la participación de sus compañeros, entre los que destaca el pianista Jesse Stacken. Con poca prisa, sin mucho ruido, grandes sobresaltos o exhibicionismos vacíos, el disco gana en detalles y profundidad con cada escucha. Un buen ejemplo de todo ello es “Drift”. Esta composición que abre el disco suavemente, y tarda un par de minutos largos hasta que muestra un gran tema, permite a los músicos lanzarse a realizar unos solos magníficos. Otro tema sobresaliente por su desarrollo sorprendente es “Tangent”. Van Huffel corta el solo de Jesse Stacken en su momento álgido lanzando una serie de líneas al saxo incoherentes en apariencia con la música desarrollada por el pianista, pero que de un modo aparentemente natural y sencillo (aunque hay veces en que no hay nada más complicado que la sencillez), se imbrican con él para terminar en una demostración de poderío al alcance de pocos grupos. Un estreno magnífico.

April 12, 2010 – Gapplegate Music Review by Grego Edwards
Peter Van Huffel Quartet, “Like the Rusted Key”
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“The band consists of Peter, Jesse Stacken, piano, Miles Perkin on the upright, and Samuel Rohrer, drums. Each of the ten pieces on the disc are well conceived and has it’s own distinct musical world. They operate in an expanded tonal universe that alternately sets up a kind of modal pulsating groove, or goes flat-out orbital, works out complex rhythmic and melodic cell development, allows space for van Huffel and pianist Stacken to stretch out in free or modal terms, gives plenty of room for group dynamic and interaction, gives out with some free rocking fire, turns in a quiet spacey interlude or two, and kicks out the jams for some total free-energy moments.”

March, 2010 – Culture Jazz Review by Thierry Giard
Peter Van HUFFEL Quartet : “Like the Rusted Key”
(Click here for the original)

Peter Van Huffel : un nom à retenir si, comme nous, vous ne connaissez pas encore ce canadien qui réside à Berlin. Encore un saxophoniste alto direz-vous? Certes mais qui a décidé de poursuivre un chemin escarpé en échappant aux références du genre. Ni Ornette ni Steve Coleman, ni Jackie Mc Lean, ni Lee Konitz (cité plus haut) ne peuvent ici être évoqués. C’est à peine si Anthony Braxton serait une influence perceptible dans les déhanchements du phrasé. Tout cela ne peut être qu’un atout pour nos oreilles.

Mais ce qui emporte définitivement l’adhésion à travers ce disque réside dans une parfaite (et rare) cohérence entre les compositions et la vigueur de l’interprétation. Ce quartet a du coffre, il est charpenté, franchement trapu mais il parvient à faire danser une musique qui repose sur une surprenante texture rythmique (Enghavevej par exemple) mais ne refuse pas aussi des moments intimistes, voire minimalistes. Dans un tel contexte, les membres du quartet sont poussés dans leurs retranchements mais prouvent toute leur valeur !

Avec ce nouvel album, le second pour le label Fresh Sound New Talent, Peter Van Huffel offre sa propre vision d’un jazz contemporain sans concessions, libre et joueur tout en restant accessible (car souvent surprenant). Un disque à découvrir patiemment : il ne révèle toutes ses richesses qu’après quelques écoutes. Un signe qui ne trompe pas !

March 30, 2010 – Step Tempest Review by Richard Kamins
Like A Rusted Key – Peter Van Huffel Quartet
(Fresh Sounds New Talent)

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Alto saxophonist/composer Van Huffel, a native of Canada now living in Berlin, Germany, creates music that insinuates its way into your mind. Not outwardly ebullient, the songs move with a purpose. And, this CD, his 3rd with pianist Jesse Stacken and first with the rhythm section of fellow Canadian Miles Perkins (acoustic bass, toys) and Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer. “Drift”, the longest track in the program. opens quietly with percussion, the staccato piano behind the handsome melody. Slowly, steadily, the song builds in intensity, the fullness of the alto saxophone rising over the simple piano rhythm. A martial drum beat announces the bass solo and then the leader returns, his introspective phrases reflecting the raga-like lines that bassist Perkin played. The directions that the piece takes reminds this listener of Keith Jarrett’s European Quartet from the 1970s (with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielson and Jon Christensen.) But, this group goes its own way with the intensely-rhythmic “Tangent”, moving with an urgency that reflects modern rock and the fire of Cecil Taylor. Pianist Stacken drives through his solo, prodded by the pounding drums and bass. All drop out for the alto sax to move out of time – they return, yet drop away to return again to ratchet up the intensity.
There’s plenty of variety, from the Kurt Weill-like melody and circus atmosphere on “Engehavej”(and when the piece opens further, the music lurches then propels forward) to the mysterious, percussion-driven excitement of “Backwards Momentum” – Rohrer moves like a dervish over his kit beneath Stacken’s driving solo then really pushes the proceedings when Van Huffel takes over. Silence is a key ingredient of “Melancholic”, with the tolling piano chords that slowly lead the piece in until one can notice the light echoing alto and hushed percussion – not much changes save for the intensity of the long notes until the long quiet fade. If one is patient, the work is meditative and calming.

“Like a Rusted Key” is quite the group effort – even though the songs are all composed by Peter Van Huffel, each member of the Quartet is intimately involved in the creation of the music and that intimacy is what shapes the program and makes it work. Stick with it and the rewards are plentiful.

March 29, 2010 – All About Jazz Review by Raul d’Gama Rose
Like The Rusted Key – Peter van Huffel Quartet |
Fresh Sound New Talent (2010)
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“The Berlin-based Canadian alto saxophonist, Peter van Huffel may be one of the most intense performers on this instrument. He creates sharp images with his playing, is exceedingly energetic—in sections of music that demand quieter moments his calmness is most elastic and taut—and although he has a tendency to play with broad glissandi almost throughout Like The Rusted Key, he has an inventive sense of rhythm. In this respect he is like Eric Dolphy, who played with a pulse that originated from the inventions of Charlie Parker, but carried the ideas of that genius into a wholly different sphere of consciousness. While Van Huffel may have some ground to cover before he hits the markers that Dolphy did in his lifetime, he may be half way there already.”

March, 2010 – Downtown Music Gallery NYC, article by Bruce Lee Gallanter

Like The Rusted Key (Fresh Sound NT 361; EEC)

Peter Van Huffel on alto sax & compositions with Jesse Stacken on piano, Miles Perkins on acoustic bass and Samuel Rohrer on drums. This German saxist Peter Van Huffel’s fourth disc as a leader and again he has left us with some engaging music to consider. I was not familiar with the bassist and drummer here, but pianist Jesse Stacken has a fine trio CD on Fresh Sound and a more recent duo CD on Steeplechase. The first piece, “Drift” is the longest and it is appropriately titled. It begins quietly and builds into an elegant somber work with a most hypnotic repeating line, building to a grand conclusion. Jesse erupts at the piano for the short but explosive “Intro to Beast”. “Tangent” is tight and intense with some difficult unison lines for the piano & sax. I dig the way this piece stops and starts and is broken into parts that are somehow connected in the overall structure. Each piece has a different slightly skewered structure or strategy. On “Enghavevej” the rhythm team play this goofy herky-jerky line while the sax and piano spin in circles around one another. There is a fine balance between pieces that are laid back and those that erupt with power and tight interaction, sort of like a suite that works its way through different moods. For tunes like “Beast 1” & “Beast 2”, Peter’s tone is dark and probing like he searching the depths for that inner answer. This is one of those discs that gets better as I spend more time with it, the well-conceived ideas become more apparent with each close listen. Mr. Van Huffel likes to run a couple of lines at once so that the sax & piano and bass & drums criss-cross time and again. You don’t hear the subliminal structure until you dig in. If you take the time to dive in beneath the waves, the wonders will be revealed.

Free Jazz Review by Stef Gijssel Peter Van Huffel Quartet –
Like The Rusted Key (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009) ****

(Monday, March 15, 2010)

(Click here for the original)

I saw this young quartet perform in less than optimal circumstances, in a pub with over two hundred students totally uninterested in the band performing, probably considering them nothing more than background noise to their chats. The four musicians are Berlin-based Canadian altoist Peter Van Huffel, pianist Jesse Stacken, bassist Miles Perkin and drummer Samuel Rohrer, and all four extremely rich in their skills and versatility. They feel as easily at home in pieces with composed themes as they are on total improvisations. “Drift” starts hesitatingly but evolves into a nice theme and strong improvisations, “Tangent” has a great rhythmic drive, a strong unison theme, allowing for great staccato accentuations, then stopping abruptly for an alto solo intermezzo that tears the piece to pieces, and even if the band re-joins, it does seem to get off the ground again, but of course the great theme builds up momentum again to come to its finale. “Enghavevej” is more joyful, “Excerpt Two” is more minimalist, “Backward Momentum” another beauty of composed interplay, “Melancholic” is driven by the slowest piano chord progression ever heard, making it fun and sensitive at the same time, “Beast II” is dark and menacing. The compositions are strong, the voices rich, the sound pallette broad and deep. This music goes well beyond mainstream because of its sometimes raw delivery, wild improvisations, deconstructionist attitude, but the careful attention to themes, structures and arrangement keep the music relatively accessible. This is clever and intense music.

JAZZ SESSION – MARZO 18 : Radio presentation by Gustavo Adolfo Bustamente Mesa, Bogota, Colombia
Peter Van Huffel – “Like the Rusted Key” (March, 2010)

La música se nos antoja por su atmósfera rítmica. Y si de jazz se trata, la afirmación cobra más fuerza y convicción, en especial cuando nos referimos a un cuarteto asentado en New York en los últimos años y con el corazón en el centro más convulsionado y alegre del jazz. Peter Van Huffel es un activo saxofonista y compositor que visita con frecuencia los escenarios europeos, especialmente Berlín, con una melodía y textura sin tacha, integrando un sonido tan creativo como evocativo. En la obra que disfrutaremos hoy “ Like The Rusted Key “ , el quehacer convencional de un cuarteto de jazz se rompe, gracias a una especie de ‘desalojo’ sonoro, donde la fuerza rítmica está presente en la mayor parte de la obra. Este es Peter Van Huffel y su quarteto.

“ El arte no proviene de un mundo inteligible, sino de una configuración sensible “ Estas palabras marcan un claro derrotero para apreciar ésta obra como una acalorada y libertaria suite. “ Like The Rusted Key “ es una producción musical donde la acusmática busca desarrollarse a plenitud, como si abriera puertas a nuevos sonidos. Acaso hay todavía algunos sonidos inéditos? Peter Van Huffel trabaja vigorosamente en sus composiciones, con éste, su nuevo cuarteto neoyorkino, conformado por Jesé Stacken (piano), Samuel Rohrer (batería) y Miles Perkin (contrabajo). Cabe destacar que éste saxofonista creó recientemente en Berlín un singular trío de rock y free jazz llamado “GORILLA MASK”, además de interactuar en diferentes escenarios con artistas de todo el mundo.

La expectación del sonido o el ritual hímnico de desgarradura humana. Así nombramos a ésta producción de jazz, que constantemente cabalga el ritmo llevándonos a zonas inesperadas. Los unísonos de saxo y piano desbordan al melodismo y se instalan en el lugar de lo asombroso y ésta es una cualidad que poco se estimula en el ambiente del jazz clásico o convencional. Dice la prensa berlinesa: “ La música de Peter Van Huffel es descriptiva, explora las melodías y los ritmos. La influencia de otros grandes músicos es asumida con sublime expresión. Los colores y la emoción son el resultado de una intención personal. Su enérgica posición musical es vigorosa y sustancial “. Este es Peter Van Huffel con su obra del año 2009 “ Like The Rusted Key “

Los años que pasa entre New York y Berlín le permiten a éste saxofonista canadiense afianzarse con todo su arsenal sonoro caracterizado por su apertura jazzística. El exigente sello barcelonés Fresh Sound y su vertiente ‘New Talent’ lo ha acogido con éste, su primer trabajo para ésta discográfica, sabiendo de su libre expresividad y personalidad, alternando entre el saxo alto y soprano. Si la música es un modo de contemplar las tinieblas, a la manera de Gustav Mahler, al escuchar a Peter Van Huffel contemplamos lo imposible, o lo posible reinventándose continuamente. Las buenas obras del jazz altivan nuestro irrefrenable espíritu.

Macao Review by Guillaume Grenard Peter Van Huffel –
“Like the Rusted Key” (March, 2010)

(Click here for the original)

Peter Van Huffel est un saxophoniste canadien encore méconnu en France, mais qui ne devrait pas le rester longtemps s’il subsiste un peu de méritocratie dans le monde de la musique. (Petite aparté : amis canadiens, envoyez-nous vos bons jazzmen, plutôt que vos horribles chanteuses).

Il a réuni autour de lui pour ce nouveau projet, le pianiste américain Jesse Stacken, le batteur suisse Samuel Rohrer et le contrebassiste canadien Miles Perkin. Tout cela se passe évidemment à Berlin. Pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué ?

On pouvait donc dés le départ avoir quelques doutes : des musiciens qui, contraintes géographiques obligent, n’ont pas une pratique commune régulière et un instrumentarium pas très original (le quartet traditionnel de jazz). Ces a priori s’effacent dés les premières minutes d’écoute.

C’est d’abord comme compositeur que l’altiste se distingue. Les thèmes sont longs mais retiennent l’attention à chaque instant ; ils sont élaborés et complexes mais ne tombent jamais dans l’académisme ou la démonstration. Les lignes mélodiques les plus hermétiques deviennent chantantes grâce à l’utilisation de l’unisson. Si l’on devait établir une parenté compositionnelle se serait avec Ornette Coleman (notamment sur The beast). Peter Van Huffel mêle dans son écriture plusieurs esthétiques dites savantes (musique contemporaine, recherches sonores post-free) tout en restant attentif à l’énergie qu’apporte la pulsation. Dans des ambiances totalement différentes on appréciera notamment la violence chirurgicale de Tangent (pièce très « Claude Tchamitchian » au passage) et la nostalgie désertique de atonement.

Le son de groupe est cohérent et ne laisse pas deviner la fraîcheur du quartet (seulement quelques mois d’existence lors de l’enregistrement). Les improvisations, toujours habitées, s’enchaînent de manière logique et naturelle. Il n’est pas ici question de juxtapositions de solistes afin de contenter les égos, mais de servir le juste déroulement des pièces. Jesse Stacken s’illustre particulièrement avec des improvisations toujours au plus proche de l’esprit du morceau et un flux énergétique digne de Cecil Taylor (Tangent, Intro the beast). Peter Van Huffel nous prouve avec ce disque que cette vieille « rusted key » qu’est le quartet de jazz peut encore fonctionner pour peu qu’on la manie avec doigté.


Something Else! Review by Pico Peter Van Huffel –
“Like the Rusted Key” (2010)
(Saturday, February 27th, 2010)

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“In my humble opinion, it’s not the improvised (aka “whack”) jazz that seems toughest to compose and render, nor is it the more mellifluous but intricate modern jazz. Rather, it’s the the kind of jazz that successfully combines both approaches. To me, it’s a marvel how a few talented and visionary musicians can be so exploratory and free, and yet leave you with a melody or some sort of a pattern of chords that can remain stuck in your consciousness and sometimes, they’re even hummable. That’s the real beauty of Ornette Coleman’s music and others like William Parker and Henry Threadgill also pull off this neat trick with ease. … Such are the qualities you’ll also find in alto saxophonist Peter Van Huffel.”

The Stash Dauber Review by Ken Shimamoto –
Peter Van Huffel Quartet “Like the Rusted Key”
Thursday, February 25, 2010
(Click here for the original)

Peter Van Huffel is a Canadian alto saxophonist, formerly based in NYC and now in Berlin. He’s got his fingers in a number of pies: his own quartet, a collaboration with Belgian vocalist Sophie Tassignon, and an “angry jazz” trio called Gorilla Mask. His new quartet release, Like the Rusted Key, just dropped on Fresh Sound Records.

Van Huffel’s most stellar collaborator in the new quartet is pianist Jesse Stacken, a leader in his own right. Together, the two men intertwine their sounds as effectively as David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp did in Ware’s great quartet. Both are nuanced players with varied tonal palettes. They let things unfold slowly on the opening “Drift” before revealing a penchant for rhythmic density on “Tangent,” a piece that veers into ’60s “energy music” midway through via Van Huffel’s use of multiphonics. Relentless drummer Samuel Rohrer stays with them every step of the way.

“Enghavevej” has some angular melodic lines that aren’t exactly Monkian or Dolphic, although reminiscent of both precursors, while “Backward Momentum” employs prog rock-like dynamics. The closing triptych of “Melancholic,” “Beast II,” and “Atonement” is contemplative, spacious, and somber, the last tune featuring lovely unison statements by Van Huffel’s alto and Miles Perkin’s arco bass. Like Fieldwork’s Door, the PVH Quartet’s Like the Rusted Key is a cerebral outing that’s not without its visceral moments. It’s a worthy showcase for a group that’s forging a strong identity.

Touching Extremes Review by Massimo Ricci –
“Like the Rusted Key”, February 8th 2010
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“Besides the leader’s alto sax – a voice that appears elegantly tantalizing more than impulsively edgy – the main presence is that of Jesse Stacken, whose pianism is acutely complementary to Van Huffel’s thematic sketches and, just occasionally, slightly biting improvisations. The mix of liquidness and synchronized dissection of otherwise reasonably regular materials – not infrequently tending to resemble certain pages of the ECM book, think Rainer Brüninghaus – is the factor that determines a rise in our level of interest.”