Blowing Session! Let's Call This That
comes closer to the old Blue Note blowing sessions than any recording I have heard in a long time. First are the musicians. Veteran Hal Galper has assembled a crack band whose members have an obvious empathy for one another. Each is exciting and innovative in his own right. Trumpeter Tim Hagans has been all over the map during the past two years. RED Records stalwart Jerry Bergonzi has enjoyed his share of exposure recently and contributes his expansive tenor on this outing. The rhythm section of Jeff Johnson and Steve Ellington has been all over the map. This assembly promises a great deal and delivers it all.
Synthetic Method. Music like this is analogous to cooking. On one hand, there are those cooks who must follow strictly written recipes, measuring each ingredient exactly. On the other hand are also cooks who have an idea of the direction they wish to go and wing it along the way. The former method will produce reliable results without much room for improvement while the latter method has the capacity to produce true brilliance when execute by the talented. The music on this disc reveals a refined and exploratory craftsmanship manifesting in both the head ensemble playing and solos. The band deftly handles Sam River's vision of Blues Bebop ("Let's Call This That") opening the disc, expressing the tune as the primal romp River's intended it to be. They close with Bird's "Constellation", deconstructing it in the same way Miles Davis and his famous quintet did "Ah-Lue-Cha" on Milestones. In this spirit, Galper is bombastic and exact throughout, banging out block chords that always seem to fit. Hagans and Bergonzi follow this lead, playing heads ready to spin out of control, but not quite doing so, and soloing with both conviction and abandon.
I would not want to listen to this music all of the time. But, it does offer an important break too much of the highly structured music ( a la Wynton Marsalis). Galper and coworkers provide a glimpse at the vitality this music has the capacity of express. Recommended.
Personnel: Hal Galper: Piano; Jerry Bergonzi: Tenor Saxophone; Tim Hagans: Trumpet; Jeff Johnson: Bass; Steve Ellington: Drums.