Jasper van ’t Hof
pianist, keyboardist, synth, pc sampling, composer (1947 Enschede, NL)
The child of a jazz trumpeter and a classically trained singer and pianist, his great interest in music became evident at an early age. The groundwork was laid with private piano lessons. At the age of fourteen he wrote his first compositions and became increasingly interested in jazz. His parents would have liked to send him to a conservatory, but JASPER VAN’T HOF preferred to play live. At nineteen he was already participating in various jazz festivals and raking in prizes.
He celebrated his first great European success with the band ASSOCIATION P. C., founded in 1969 by VAN’T HOF along with the Dutch drummer Pierre Courbois and the German guitarist Toto Blanke. The bassist was sometimes the Dutchman Peter Krijnen, sometimes the German Sigi Busch. The band produced a synthesis of jazz and rock never before heard in such high quality and acclaimed as a sensation at the Berlin Jazztage of 1971.
“Eighty percent of ASSOCIATION P. C. was electronics”, JASPER recalls, and he accordingly soon belonged to the circle of jazz musicians interested in exploring the sound possibilities newly created by the electronic instrumentarium. This he undertook in a formation founded in 1973 with Charlie Mariano and Philip Catherine, the group’s name – PORK PIE – alluding to an old Lester Young number. Of the two excellent albums that came out of this collaboration, the second one, TRANSISTORY, was dedicated to the bassist Peter Trunk who had died in a car accident in New York in 1974. It was also very much in the Trunk spirit that PORK PIE merged the technical-artistic virtuosity of jazz with the dynamic extroversion of rock.
JASPER VAN’T HOF recorded his first solo album, THE SELF KICKER, in 1976, following the dissolution of PORK PIE, and it was already a clear avowal of faith to fully developed melody and precisely conceived music; it is still one of JASPER’s favourite albums today. This period also witnessed a number of duo contacts with musicians like Archie Shepp, Manfred Schoof, Wolfgang Dauner, Zbigniew Seifert, Toto Blanke, Stu Martin, Alphonse Mouzon and Bob Malach. And solo performances by JASPER VAN’T HOF were also not rare during those years: as a keyboarder with “all the works,” but often alone at the concert grand as well.
Interestingly and curiously enough, the readers of a jazz magazine elected JASPER VAN’T HOF as “Europe’s second-best synthesiser player” in 1978, despite the fact that he had played piano, e-piano and organ exclusively until that time – albeit frequently connected to various kinds of electrical effect devices.
The year 1984 marked the founding of the Afro-European formation PILI-PILI. Its first album was a major success, above all in the dance and pop scene. The legendary fifteen-minute title track “Pili Pili”, which gave the band its name, resounded from the approximately 160,000 copies sold of this firstling, raising it to the status of a cult number. VAN’T HOF worked primarily in Germany, due perhaps to the proximity of the border, perhaps also to his marriage to a German woman of Hamelin.
PILI-PILI’s success has taken VAN’T HOF on eighteen concert tours to date; the band appears on stage in Germany twenty to thirty times a year. PILI-PILI was a stepping stone for Angelique Kidjo, now an internationally successful ethnopop singer who worked with JASPER VAN’T HOF in his band for four years and recorded a number of CDs with him. The members of PILI-PILI include Marion Klein (Bielefeld), also a musician in the ethno band Dissidenten, the bassist Frank Itt of Hamburg and the trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. The band is VAN’T HOF’s most continuous project and celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2004.
Under the title OPERANOIA, PORK PIE underwent a revival in 1992 with Philip Catherine, Charlie Mariano and Don Alias.
JASPER VAN’T HOF has published his some seventy albums almost exclusively with German record companies. It was not until recently – on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday – that major tribute was paid him in Holland for the first time, in the form of the renowned BIRD AWARD. The two organ CDs recorded in Italy two years ago received wide recognition, and in the meantime VAN’T HOF has played the church organ at well-known classical music festivals.
In April 2003, twenty-five years after his first piano solo CD, a new studio solo CD appeared finally. It was recorded in November 2002 in the broadcasting hall of Radio Bremen. The main theme is the explainable, mathematical and recurrent aspect of music, inspired by Gödel, Escher and Bach, who traced this formula back to its origins in mathematics, painting and music, respectively. The title of the new CD is AXIOMA (JARO 4250-2) – also an anniversary album for JARO, namely our 150th!