Peter Van Huffel, Andreas Willers + Oliver Steidle – The Scrambling Ex (2015)

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Whether it’s the clever, impish fun of Boom Crane or the hardcore out-jazz slam-dance of Gorilla Mask, Peter Van Huffel will always figure out something interesting and edgy to play, and his strategy is to matter-of-factly build a new band with new players. His latest off the wall collaboration is with guitarist Andreas Willers and drummer Oliver Steidle and this Berlin-based trio calls themselves The Scrambling Ex.

Accordingly, there’s a record to capture this sound, one that trades out a standup bass with Willers’ sometimes scorching/usually unpredictable electric guitar, and playing originals that strike a balance between creatively arranged patterns with wide open, three-way improv. With all this dynamism going on, a bass part would almost be getting in the way.

The freedom accorded by this setup gives them plenty of options. “Case of Need” is a compacted can of thrash jazz whoop-ass, paced by Willers’ tortured guitar and Steidle’s free range drums. They take a breather on “Happenstance,” where Peter Van Huffel’s clarinet sets a solemn mood. “Princess” prances with a merry melody, peppered with free asides.

Steidle steals the show on “Tangent” with unrelenting snare bashing that launches Huffel and later, Willers, rushing up and down scales at a volatile, frantic pace dictated by the drummer. Meanwhile, “Flegenfoet” rocks hard but maintains a jazz sensibility because Peter Van Huffel and Willers clash and create the sparks from that.

The Scrambling Ex is now on sale, from FMR Records. Like other Peter Van Huffel projects, this one embarks on an adventure into the wilder areas of jazz. Pick up a copy here and go on a sonic safari.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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