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Peter Van Huffel/Michael Bates/Jeff Davis: Boom Crane

Mark Corroto By

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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?

Such is the music of Boom Crane. Van Huffel's background, like that of his bandmates, is in the eclectic. He leads the hardrock/free-jazz band Gorilla Mask and performs in House of Mirrors, a modern chamber music ensemble. Bates is a member of the saxophonist's quintet and a quartet he leads with vocalist Sophie Tassignon. He got his start in hardcore punk, drifted to jazz and released Acrobat: Music For, And By, Dmitri Shostakovich (Sunnyside, 2011) and several stellar discs with his band Outside Sources (with Jeff Davis) on Greenleaf Records. The drummer, with a classical music background, has recorded covers of Black Sabbath's music with the band Rocket Engine and is an in-demand drummer for groups that include Kirk Knuffke, Tony Malaby, Eivind Opsvik and Kris Davis.

"Fast and Flurious" evokes an Albert Ayler themed anthem that is injected with a speed metal cocktail. The trio thrives in the muscular world of rapid changes and balanced participation. Bate's bass is conspicuous throughout; he (and Davis) do more than keep time. On "Equilibrium," he aggressively leads the piece through multiple sections, and on the ballad "Tower In The Trees," he stalks Van Huffel's clarinet with a sinister walk. The clarinet resurfaces in "Quasar," the gentle (yes, they sometimes lay down arms) chamber ballad.

What is significant here is Boom Crane's attitude, which is dutifully backed up by the band's musicianship. They can navigate the sly time shifts of the swinging compositions "Automatic Vaudeville" and "Boom Crane," the title track, both drawing from classic jazz but played with the reverence fitting a band of insurgents.

Track Listing: More; Jest; Automatic Vaudeville; Not a Living Soul; Tower in the Trees 3:29; Boom Crane; Slipper Hero; Talk to Me; Quasar; On Equilibrium; Fast and Flurious.

Personnel: Peter Van Huffel: alto saxophone, clarinet; Michael Bates: bass; Jeff Davis: drums.

Title: Boom Crane | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


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