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Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center is celebrating 40 years of new music in Buffalo, and it is marking the occasion by welcoming back pianist Fred van Hove. Born in Belgium in 1937, van Hove is a legend in free jazz circles. He will be collaborating in Hallwalls with New York City drummer Lou Grassi.

Van Hove plays not only piano, but also accordion and church organ. His career has straddled a number of continents and he is particularly celebrated in Japan, where a three-day Van Hove Festival was held. He has collaborated with painters of note and has held workshops and residencies in England, Germany and Belgium. News Critic Jeff Simon, describing a rare appearance Van Hove made in Buffalo in 1999, recalled that a London paper called him “a sort of Liszt for the rave generation.” Simon added: “Van Hove’s music doesn’t swing. Rather, it pounds at times, with a kind of rhythmic force that is vaguely familiar but doesn’t exactly duplicate any other piano sound at all.”

Grassi, like Van Hove, is a master of collaboration, with partnerships with such artists as Johnny Hartman, Sheila Jordan, Urbie Green and Borah Bergman. The two join forces at 8 p.m. Sunday in Hallwalls (341 Delaware Ave.). Admission is free, with a donation of $10-$20 suggested.

– Mary Kunz Goldman