Performing jazz music for van Huffel ‘all about an open mind’

Boom Crane performed as part of Humber Lakeshore’s Wednesday concert series. From left to right, Peter van Huffel, Michael Bates and Jeff Davis. Photo by Phil Witmer Boom Crane performed as part of Humber Lakeshore’s Wednesday concert series. From left to right, Peter van Huffel, Michael Bates and Jeff Davis. Photo by Phil Witmer

Phil Witmer
A&E Reporter

Humber College music graduate Peter van Huffel brought his jazz trio Boom Crane to his alma mater this week for the Wednesday Concert Series at Lakeshore campus.

Van Huffel, an accomplished saxophonist and composer, graduated from Humber more than a decade ago and lived in Brooklyn, NY, and Berlin, Germany, for years, networking with other musicians constantly.

“Berlin is different,” said van Huffel. “In Toronto, [other jazz musicians] will mainly play standards. In Germany, everyone will be much freer and improvise more.”

Boom Crane’s hour-long set demonstrated this as van Huffel, bassist Michael Bates and drummer Jeff Davis maneuvered through the tricky musical twists of songs from their 2013 self-titled album. The lack of piano or any other chord-playing instrument in the group freed Van Huffel and Bates to embark on exploratory passages marked by staccato lead lines from the former and percussive harmonic movement from the latter.

When asked what to call their music during one of the question periods dotted throughout the set, all three members responded simply with “jazz”.

“You can put any kind of wording on it but I think, for us, we like to do lots of things — swinging, improvisation, so jazz is all of that,” Davis said.

Following a piece that seemed to change rhythm and feel every other measure, Bates invited several of the attending Humber music students to join him on stage as he workshopped them through the complex changes. Jared Goldman,  23, a fourth-year drumming student, was among the students and said it was “a blast“ to accompany such experienced musicians on stage.

Boom Crane, which has been around in some form or another for three years, came together through chance, random meetings which took place with a similar spirit.

“There’s a lot of different aspects to jazz,” said van Huffel. “It’s all about keeping an open mind.”

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