Exploring Jasper van ’t Hof

When one looks at his LP covers and listens to the great variety of productions, it is quite surprising to read a – clearly Dutch – name like Jasper van ’t Hof. Ranging from fusion jazz to ambient electronics and tribal house music, the Dutch composer has an interesting discography worth checking out.

 

Born in Enschede, The Netherlands in 1947 to a jazz trumpeter and a classically trained pianist, van ‘t Hof’s interest in music was palpable from an early age. He took private piano lessons and developed a great fondness for jazz music, dabbling in both play and composition. In his early twenties he started experimenting with the possibilities of electronic sounds. These are clearly discernible in his collaborations with Charlie Mariano and Philip Catherine as Pork Pie, and then in 1976 in van ‘t Hof’s first solo album The Self Kicker.

A good number of duo performances and recordings including Archie Schepp, Alphonse Mouzon and many more followed. These performances gave van ‘t Hof the opportunity to travel around the world and gain lots of inspiration for new music. A collaboration with Markus Stockhausen in 1980 resulted in the beautifully mysterious Aqua Sanza (which has just been reissued by Archeon Recordings!). Two years later in 1982, a sci-fi inspired ambient solo album Visitors emerged.

During a tour through Africa’s Congo, van ’t Hof was inspired by tribal rhythms and upon his return, the Afro-European formation Pili Pili was born. Named after a spicy pepper the group fused European Jazz and an African rhythm section. A member of the group, Angélique Kidjo, went on to become an ethno-pop sensation in the 90s. Mostly active in Germany, the group’s 12” single Pili-Pili was a big hit on European dance floors in 1985.

To date, Jasper van ‘t Hof has about seventy albums to his name. So next time you start digging for records don’t let the Dutch name fool you. You may very well have found some beautiful music by a brilliant composer.

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Jasper van ’t Hof

Associations

The Selfkicker, MPS recordings, 1976. The deep bass and loose drums combined with the melodic vocals make this a head nodding deep cut not to forget.

2.

Markus Stockhausen / Jasper van ’t Hof

Aqua Sansa

Aqua Sansa, Fran Recordings, 1980. Opening with some mystic mallets on top of a drum machine loop, slowly building towards a hypnotic roller coaster including echoing trumpets; this is a true experimental trip. Well-deserving of its reissue.

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Jasper van ’t Hof

Tropic of Cancer

Visitors, Pop Eye, 1982. Keeping the drums simple, this album is all about the spacious melodies. I imagine a morning TV cartoon about a space traveler who is lost on an unknown planet. At times uplifting, at times melodramatic.

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Jasper van t’ Hof

Pili-Pili

Pili-Pili, Keytone, 1984. A 15 minute mid-tempo drum salvo accompanied by arpeggiating synths and African vocals. The piano adds a strange yet comfortable melodic layer upon the rhythmic overload.

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Jasper van ‘t Hof

Pili-Pili – ilé

Hoomba-Hoomba, Virgin, 1985. The swinging percussion and vocals build towards a solid house beat flowing with Angelique Kidjo’s beautiful voice. The bassline and the reverb-drenched snare make this a dance floor hit. Oh... wait till that strange Sega Megadrive Rock-ish double-time part comes in at 3:35!

1. Jasper van ’t Hof Associations
2. Markus Stockhausen / Jasper van ’t Hof Aqua Sansa
3. Jasper van ’t Hof Tropic of Cancer
4. Jasper van t’ Hof Pili-Pili
5. Jasper van ‘t Hof Pili-Pili – ilé

Notable mentions:
Jasper van ‘t Hof / Alphonse Mouzon – Poobli (1978)
Sigi Schwab / Chris Hinze / Jasper van ’t Hof – Total Musik (1982)
Jasper van ‘t Hof / Joachim Kuhn – Cheops (1983)
Pili Pili / Jasper van ‘t Hof – Smiling Lingala (1984)
Jasper van ‘t Hof / pili pili – boogaloo (1994)