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Hal Galper Trio: Trip the Light Fantastic (2011)

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Hal Galper Trio: Trip the Light Fantastic How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

About eighty percent of the jazz piano players out there can fit into one of two schools: that of the introspective, harmonically rich Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
mode; or the more percussive and gregarious Bud Powell
Bud Powell
Bud Powell
1924 - 1966
piano
bebop approach. There's also a small slice of the that pie that draws it primary inspiration from bright and splashy Art Tatum
Art Tatum
Art Tatum
1909 - 1956
piano
/Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
pre-bop playing style, along with various subsets. Then there are those who take a foundation of one of those approaches and craft something quite unique, the path that Hal Galper has taken over the past decade.

A veteran of the groups of trumpeter Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
and alto saxophonist Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
, Galper can certainly claim a bebop foundation. But he has taken that foundation and flown free with it, as documented in his recent Origin CDs— Furious Rubato (2007) and E Pluribus Unum (2010)—where he explored the rubato style of playing, an approach that lends elasticity to time and tempo, and often engenders wildness and abandon.

Galper opens the set with Sammy Fain/Bob Hilliard's "Alice in Wonderland," a tune famously covered by Evans on his masterpiece Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside Records, 1961). This is not a floating Evans version, however; Galper and band mates—drummer John Bishop
John Bishop
John Bishop
b.1959
drums
and bassist Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
b.1954
bass
—take the tune on a furiously tumultuous ride, full of urgency, pushing in the direction of flying out of control, without ever doing so.

Jule Styne's standard "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" is more restrained, a deeply ruminative and intimate conversation between Galper and Johnson that leads into the ominous Galper original, "Suspension," which puts the trio's edgy interactivity and ability to sustain a prickly momentum on full display. The title tune, another Galper original, has a swaying, fractured grandeur, an off-center, freewheeling beauty full of mystery and intrigue.

The trio wraps it up with "Be My Love," a film tune written for vocalist Mario Lanza. Bishop's drums sizzle and detonate unpredictably; Johnson's bass rumbles; and the piano notes careen with a scintillating, headlong freedom, closing out Galper's finest trio outing to date.


Track Listing: Alice in Wonderland; Babes of Cancun; Get Up & Go; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry; Suspension; Trip the Light Fantastic; Be My Love.

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

Record Label: Origin Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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