February 21, 2024

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Jazz musician Fred van Hoof, pioneer of European free jazz, dies as pianist and composer

Jazz musician Fred van Hoof, pioneer of European free jazz, dies as pianist and composer

Fred van Hoof was born and raised in Antwerp. Active in music for over 60 years. As a musician, he says he was deeply influenced by the usual sound of Antwerp church bells. Van Hoof played different instruments: piano, accordion, church organ and bell. He was also active as a composer.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he played with German saxophonist Peter Prutzmann and Dutch drummer Han Beiningk. But Van Hoof has also worked in duets and solos. Creating ambiance was pivotal during his concerts, penetrating established musical symbols, far from any form of predictability.

Van Hove is a big name at home and abroad, especially in the field of free music and improvisation. He has inspired many musicians with his musical vision and approach. In his career, he has played with almost all the big names in the jazz world. According to Van Hove, improvised music does not exist until it is actually played, so the artist is all about developing your own sound on your instrument, which cannot be reproduced by someone else.

Van Hoof also literally advocated for his beloved form of music as president of WIM (Working Group for Musicians Improvised), an organization he co-founded in 1973. He campaigned for stadiums and supported adventure music and organized a free music festival between 1973 and 2004 at various locations in Antwerp . The event was actually an anti-festival where free music was promoted, in addition to the already existing Jazz Middelheim. In 2010 he received the Artist Award from SAPAME.

Until his old age, Van Hoof remained musically active, despite health problems. In 2017, he celebrated his 80th birthday on stage. In the same year he received a career award from the radio station Clara. In 2020, director Philippe Courtens presented a documentary about Van Hoof’s career on behalf of the Center for the Study of Flemish Music. Fred van Hoof: An Improvised Life. That photo shows Van Hoof as a relentless artist, at least when it comes to his musical inventory.

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