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Chris Gall: Cosmic Playground

Don Phipps By

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It's easy to hear references to classical music in Chris Gall's style of jazz. After all, he is a trained classical pianist. And those who like a bit of Chopin with their jazz will certainly enjoy Cosmic Playground.

Gall's music also incorporates elements of rock and funk. Offering up strong melodic lines, Gall and his fellow musicians (Henning Sieverts on bass and brother Peter Gall on drums) intermix a confluence of styles on seven original tunes and two covers (the Lennon-McCartney tune "Across the Universe" and the traditional "Sea Lion Woman").

The music is straight ahead. No curves. The tunes stand on their own, and the improvised flourishes of the musical variations revolve above and below the primary themes and motifs. The music bristles with energy without being hurried or pushy. Rhythms are set and energized by Peter Gall's strong drumming. And even though some of the music has a languid feel, the music never lacks passion.

Take Gall's composition "Cosmic Playground," which rolls along like great road music. Or "Arthur Dent Knows," with its classically informed lines and controlled piano lines. Or "Across the Universe," where Gall adds chromatic flourishes on the piano and Sieverts supplies a sensitive poetic bass solo. In each of these pieces you hear classical underpinnings. Gall doesn't run from his background—he embraces it.

Gall includes two originals, "Drumsticks and Fingertips" and "Seven Beat Strut," that provide energetic funk and rock beats. Peter Gall is all over the trap set in the former, and in the latter, he and Sieverts propel the beat laid down in Chris Gall's left-hand chords and right-hand melodic flourishes.

"Gentle Snap" offers a syncopated melody and rhythm. The chromaticism of Chris Gall's melody is bolstered by his brother's excellent work on the hi-hat cymbals. The family affinity is also exhibited in "Hymn" and "Follow the Milky Way, Then Turn Left," where strong empathy between the brothers makes the music compelling.

Thoroughly enjoyable, Cosmic Playground provides tuneful and interesting compositions bolstered by engaging piano lines and supported by strong bass and drum contributions.

Track Listing: Cosmic Playground; Arthur Dent Knows; Sea Lion Woman; Across the Universe; Hymn; Follow the Milky Way, Then Turn Left; Gentle Snap; Drumsticks & Fingertips; Seven Beat Strut.

Personnel: Chris Gall: piano; Henning Sieverts: bass; Peter Gall: drums.

Title: Cosmic Playground | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: GLM Music

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