Count pianist Hal Galper
as another veteran rising like the brightest of stars into a compelling late career zenith. An alumni of saxophone great Phil Woods
' 1980s group, Galper found his inspiration of late with an exploration of the Rubato Style of playing, with its flexible approach to tempo and the disassembling of melodies and putting them, slightly askew, back together again, somewhat in the mode of the Cubist painters. Think Picasso, an image of a human figure in profile, with the entire faceboth eyes, both nostrils, a full mouthshifted to the viewer's perspective, visible from the side view. Like a human halibut. A person with appendages protruding from unfamiliar places on the torso, bent at impossible angles.
That's the picture Galper has been painting musically through six trio albums on Origin Records, beginning with Furious Rubato
(2007), and rollinglike an unbalanced and underinflated tirethrough O's Time
(2014). Five of these six sets featured Galper's long time rubato compadres, bassist Jeff Johnson
and drummer John Bishop
; and with the passage of four years since the release of O's Time
, and considering the consistent idiosyncratic and innovative excellence of their trio work, there was a sense that they had called it a day, that they had nothing left to prove.
The trio is back, in top form, with Cubist
; and they invited saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi
into the fold. It was an inspired addition to the sound. Bergonzi, like Hal Galperand it's an old and common storyis one of those distinctively daring players who doesn't get the recognition he deserves. His horn lends recognizability to the stretched and molded melodies. He can be fierce; his tone is muscular. In the trio's ruminations and maelstroms he can sound like the voice of reason, or like a ranting maniac (with a method to his madness).
This deftly sequenced set begins with two familiar tunes, Miles Davis' always modern-sounding "Solar," and "Israel," from The Birth of the Cool
(Capitol Records, 1957). This is a music always on the edge, leaning over the drop and thumbing its nose at it. They close in like fashion with Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood," and Galper's own "Scufflin,'" the former simply beautiful, the latter cooking as close, with a high flame, to the mainstream as the set gets, until the pianist takes his solo and wobbles off and slows down, as the lug nuts on that underinflated tire begins to loosen.
Centerpieced between the standards at the beginning and end of the disc sit four originals from the pen of the group's bassist, Jeff Johnson. A fine leader in his own right, with a discography that includes a handful of excellent discs under his own name and at least a score of listings as sideman, his compositions prove perfect vehicles for the group, with their more inward atmospheres and Zen flows.
In a long and successful career, and a huge discography, Cubist
proves itself one of Hal Galper's finest.
Solar; Israel; Artists; Kiwi; Cubist; Scene West; In A Sentimental Mood; Scufflin'.
Hal Galper: piano; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor sax; Jeff Johnson: bass; John Bishop: drums
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles
for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today