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Hal Galper Trio: Airegin Revisited (2012)

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Hal Galper Trio: Airegin Revisited How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Hal Galper's Airegin Revisited is exhilarating. The pianist has been working at his artistry for more than a half century, and he is moving surely into the "elder statesman of jazz" category, riding the furious wave of several distinctive and idiosyncratic trio recordings. Galper, like alto saxophonist Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
and pianist Martial Solal
Martial Solal
Martial Solal
b.1927
piano
, has gone deeper into the music than seems possible, taking a great many standards and unleashing them, reshaping the familiar tunes with his unwavering vision into a new art.

Galper has, in recent years, found a new home at Origin Records, offering a discography—Furious Rubato (2007), Art-Work (2009) E Pluribus Unum (2010) and Trip the Light Fantastic (2011)—that gets better and more compelling, with each subsequent release. He has also found two likeminded musical brothers in bassist Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
b.1954
bass
and drummer John Bishop
John Bishop
John Bishop
b.1959
drums
, versatile and sophisticated players who can keep up with his rubato concept, one of playing loose and free with tempo and harmony—even structure—twisting the familiar forms like a rubber band, then pulling them back and letting them fly free.

Opening with an eleven minute-plus take on George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin
1898 - 1937
composer/conductor
's "Embraceable You," the trio shifts shapes and colors, playing with the melody in a joyous exploration that slips, near the end, into a brief straight reading. The floating "One Step Closer," a Galper original inspired by Brazilian harmony, finds Johnson and Bishop laying down a subtle and graceful rhythm, with the pianist going into a sparkling Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner
1921 - 1977
piano
groove in his solo.

Galper did what he calls his "post-graduate work" in Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
1923 - 2011
sax, tenor
' band in the mid-sixties, and played on the saxophonist's A New Conception (Blue Note, 1966). Homage is paid to the teacher on Rivers' "Melancholia." Rivers was a rule-breaker, and student Galper learned lasting lessons, with the trio's version paying homage by slowing things down to evoke a sense of loss at Rivers' passing near the end of 2011.

In another homage, Galper closes the disc with saxophone legend Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
' title track. A fourteen-minute tour de force with, Bishop's cymbals steaming, and Johnson, bowing, it adds a viscous underpinning to an exuberant finale to this stunning album.


Track Listing: Embraceable You; Asscendant; One Step Closer; Ambleside; Melancholia; Conception; Airegin.

Personnel: Hal Galper: piano; Jeff Johnson: bass; John Bishop: drums.

Record Label: Origin Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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