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Hal Galper Trio: Agents of Change

Dan McClenaghan By

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Pianist Hal Galper spent most of the '80s playing in Phil Woods' quintet, and he spent three years on the road with Cannonball Adderley. He's also worked with Chet Baker and Stan Getz, and he cites bop pioneer Bud Powell as a major influence; so you might expect on his latest offering, the piano trio Agents of Change, some straight-ahead bebop sounds. But there's a surprise in store: a change.

Playing in a "rubato" style, immersing himself in some time-tested standards and three of his own compositions, Galper and company stretch out in the direction of freedom on some deep explorations of familiar melodies. Agents of Change is a very fine and quite unique piano trio outing.

The company Galper keeps here tells a part of the story: bassist Tony Marino was recently heard on Ron Thomas' fluid and exploratory set Doloroso (Art of Life, 2006); drummer Billy Mintz shined on the marvelous free outing Beautiful You (Origin, 2004). On well-known tunes like "On Green Dolphin Street" and "How Deep is the Ocean," the trio delves deep, gets to the core, and then stretches it out. The disc opens with the familiar "E.S.P.," from the pen of Wayne Shorter, beginning in a recognizable mode before the trio moves in the direction of freedom.

The Miles Davis/John Coltrane vehicle "Dear Old Stockholm" is a highlight. The musicians play out the gorgeous melody with a free flowing intensity, turning it into a personal exploration without ever losing the essense of the tune. On Irving Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean," they step lightly and abstractly into the melody, then click into a bouncy groove, sounding almost straight-ahead. Galper's "Waiting for Chet," a lovely eleven-minute rumination on his old band mate, trumpeter Chet Baker, wanders introspectively.

Track Listing: E.S.P.; How Deep is the Ocean; Liquid Audio; Waiting for ChetDear Old Stockholm; On Green Dolphin Street; Sonar.

Personnel: Hal Galper: piano; Tony Marino: bass; Billy Mintz: drums.

Title: Agents of Change | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Fabola Records

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