December 11, 2017
Fred Van Hove/Roger Turner
Relative Pitch Records RPR 1059
Oddly singular for both the favored piano-percussion duo format and the multiple records on which Flemish pianist Fred Van Hove and British drummer Roger Turner have been featured, The Corner is not only the first time the two have recorded together but the only disc in that format in the pianist’s extensive discography. That said despite the novelty and meeting of different generations of Free Music practitioners, the four improvisations are fluid and distinctive. Part of EuroImprov in its infancy, Van Hove, 80, was one-third of the ground breaking Brötzmann-Bennink-Van-Hove trio of the late 1960s and has worked with nearly every improviser of note since then. Similarly musically promiscuous Turner, 70, has had long-term association with likes of John Russell and Thomas Lehn plus many others.
Recorded live in London, the CD’s two longer – over 20 minute – tracks shoot off in all directions, while the shorter ones vibrate with dissonant euphony. While the very brief “More Light” is pensive and jangly with squirming keyboard tickles and shaded cymbal claps, the slightly longer “Shopped” is more accommodating. It communicates a feeling of calm elation with piano cadenzas producing an attractive melody aided by positioned percussion smacks. The massive introductory “Life Dealers” is kinetic, with upwards slanting piano cascades facing contrapuntal challenges from the percussionist’s compounded clatters, resounds and scrapes. Drenched in a continuous shower of notes and tones, its dynamic coloration is reminiscent of some of Cecil Taylor’s drum duets. As creative as the American piano master, Van Hove isn’t afraid to add a dollop of lyricism, which surprises as it arrives, then vanishes under a hurricane of whorled and whirling glissandi. Raw power is on show, but so is key-in-lock connection between the two. More condensed, “The Hat” continues the dual strategy, although seemingly less stressed Van Hove unleashes dancing fingering on the keys. Piling rolls and pops to mountainous height, Turner blends in with the piano narrative, even as it becomes more tremolo and fortissimo. Finally beautifully verdant, but not soppy connections unite the two, with the finale signaled by a conclusive snare slap from Turner.
Despite this being a first recorded meeting, Van Hove and Turner did everything but work themselves into a musical corner. The duo should come out from this junction more often.
Track Listing: 1. Life Dealers 2. Shopped 3. The Hat 4. More Light
Personnel: Fred Van Hove (piano) and Roger Turner (drums and percussion)