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Hal Galper: Now Hear This

Ken Dryden By

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Hal Galper has had a long, distinguished career as a jazz pianist, bandleader, composer and educator. While the pianist has made a flurry of recordings over the past few years, record labels are beginning to mine the wealth of material he produced during the '=1970s. Now Hear This was first issued by Enja in 1977 and subsequently reissued in its original form, though this edition sports a redesigned cover and a bonus track. Galper's inspired quartet includes trumpeter Terumasa Hino, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Tony Williams. The title track, which was recorded by its composer with a different quintet during the same decade, benefits from the stripped-down quartet and a decent piano (something not available for the live Century LP Speak With a Single Voice (1978)and reissued as the Double Time CD Children of the Night).

"Now Hear This" is one of Galper's most infectious works, as the pianist launches into a furious solo, with Hino's contribution followed by Williams' simmering break. The playful "Red Eye Special" suggests a bit of McCoy Tyner's influence, punctuated by Hino's searing trumpet. Galper builds "First Song of the Day" upon a simple repeated riff, intermingling thunderous chords and lightning runs in his solo, while both Hino's and McBee's features are equally full of fire. This expanded reissue includes a previously unreleased alternate take of it, which is a bit shorter but no less intense than the master. In addition to Galper's five originals, he includes a sauntering, sassy interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing." This is easily one of Galper's best recordings of the 1970s and very desirable to have in this expanded, brighter sounding 24bit edition.

Track Listing: Now Hear This; Shadow Waltz; Red Eye Special; First Song In The Day; Mr. Fixit; Bemsha Swing; First Song In The Day (Alt. Take).

Personnel: Hal Galper: piano; Terumasa Hino: trumpet, flugelhorn; Cecil McBee: bass; Tony Williams: drums.

Title: Now Hear This | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Enja Records

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