Belgian jazz musician Fred Van Hove has left us after a 60-year career.


Jazz musician Fred Van Hove, a pioneer of free improvisation in Europe, has passed away just before his 85th birthday. Born in Antwerp in 1937, he studied classical music at the Academy of Merksem, but after 1960 it was jazz that fascinated him and soon became a real passion to which he devoted the rest of his life.

He was propelled into the world of jazz during a performance at the Lazy River Jazz Festival in Kortrijk, in which he played with the ensemble of the Antwerp-based Mike Zinzen. In 1968, he formed a legendary trio with saxophonist and clarinetist Peter Brötzmann and drummer Han Bennink.

A pianist as well as an accordionist and organist, he turned to the radio and composed for theatre and cinema. He also taught improvised music in various European countries, such as France, England and Germany. Van Hove is considered one of the European pioneers of free music, more specifically free jazz, which is improvisation that does not respect the traditional rules of harmony and melody. In this form of improvisation, Fred Van Hove mainly played the piano, surrounded by a few musicians.

He performed in concert one last time on 7 May 2004, at the Festival Jazz À Liège. He died at the end of an exceptional 60-year career.