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Hal Galper Trio: O's Time (2014)

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Hal Galper Trio: O's Time How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

It's hard to be innovative in the piano trio format. The last big change happened in the late fifties and early sixties, with pianist Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' groundbreaking trio featuring bassist Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
1936 - 1961
bass
and drummer Paul Motian
Paul Motian
Paul Motian
1931 - 2011
drums
. The democratization of input and interplay changed the trio game, and countless groups have worked on refining that Evans approach ever since. A more recent development has been bombast and the inclusion of rock and poplar tunes into the jazz piano trio endeavor—with varying degree of success. Rubato playing, the stretching of the varying of tempos, in a three way improvisational way, is pianist Hal Galper's contribution to piano trio innovation.

O's Time is Galper's fifth recording in the rubato style on Origin Records. His trio, with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop, perfected their approach with 2011's Airegin Revisited. The current offering rolls that artistic peak out on a high plateau, twsiting the familiar (John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
"Like Sonny," Charlie Chaplain's "Smile") into different shapes, revealing different sides to the melodic threads.

"Coltrane's "Like Sonny" opens the set. The three voices bounce off each other like a cocktail party conversation, synchronous and discordant at the same time. And like that party, as the drinks flow, the volume rises toward the raucous, without, on this tune at least, actually going there. Then there's the Zen serenity of a Johnson bass solo, sparely comped by Galper.

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter's "Wildflower" has a "fractured then put back together" feeling, turbulent drums from Bishop behind Galper's relative restraint. "O's Time," written by Galper in honor of alto saxophonist/free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, moves away from the concept of restraint. It rolls and tumbles and sounds like, at its peak, a piano trio stuffed into a burlap bag and pushed down the stairs, with the players hanging on tight and still keeping the tune from chaos. And Charlie Chaplain's much-covered smile sounds like they're set up on the back of a flatbed truck, careening ninety miles an hours down a winding mountain road.

Exhilarating! The Hal Galper Trio shows the others guys what innovative is all about.

Track Listing: Like Sonny; Wildflower; O's Time; Moonglazed; Smile; Our Waltz.

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

Record Label: Origin Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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