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The Uncollected Thoughts of Hal Galper

Great Quotes

“ Nothing is real beyond imaginative patterns men make of reality.”

William Blake


“ …the larger world lay not across oceans but within the human mind and heart.”

Greg Iles, “The Quiet Game”


“Many are spoil’d by that pedantic throng,

Who with great pains teach youth to reason wrong.

Tutors, like Virtuoso’s, oft inclin’d

By strange transfusion to improve the mind,

Draw off the sense we have, to pour in new;

Which yet, with all their skill, they ne’er could do.“

William Pope’s “Essay on Criticism,” 1711


“Everybody’s been playing free. Every time you play a solo you’re free to play what you want to play. That’s freedom right there.“

Philly Joe Jones’s comment concerning so-called ‘freedom music.


“If success is measured by acknowledgement, that means you have to go public, and to the extent that you go public you distance yourself from the intimate aspect of your own life. One day you wake up and you realize that this whole aspect of your life has been lost, and you finally understand the cost of what you’ve done.”

From a character in the novel “The Dossier.”


“…it is essential that the study of the history of jazz should include those aspects that are apparently ‘extra musical’ such as sociologic, economic and psychological contexts that are in fact pertinent to the language and tend to condition its substance. One of these is participation. Jazz still relies on the participatory relationship between audience and musician that dates back to it’s African origins. Right from the outset, in Afro -American music ,the audience has been pressed to consider itself as an integral part of the performance experience.”

From Stefano Zenni in the year 2000 publication of Musica Oggi


“When we learn something new, we produce a new thought or make a new connection-we change. We are someone different.”

The Turing Option, Harry Harrison & Marvin Minsky


“It would seem to make sense that every aspiring musician should at some point play drums in order to get a rhythmic clue. Jazz, with it’s time feel derived from poly rhythmic African music, demands that its practitioners of what Mike calls “additive rhythm;” i.e. 2 against 3, 4 against 3, 5 against 4 etc. Once a musician is made aware of these relationships via the drum, major changes take place in their playing. Not only do their their lines begin to flow better and swing, but it becomes impossible for the player to fall out of time.”

From and interview with Mike Longo in Jazz Improv Magazine, Vol. #1, 2000.


Surely you heard the story about the cellist Pablo Casals going mountain climbing with a music lover. About half way up a boulder came down the mountain and barely missed Casals’ right hand. “Good God, Maestro, that was a close call! If that boulder had hit your hand your career might have been over!” Casals shot back, “Yeah, and then I wouldn’t have to play that goddam cello any more.”


“The first night in the band, playing with the great Dizzy Gillespie, I was all over the place with notes. And he just eased over to me and calmly said, “You know, the sign of a mature musician is when you learn what not to play; what to leave out.’ It took me a while to do.

Dizzy loved to teach; he was a natural born teacher. I learned a lot of little things that you wouldn’t get in a music school. The things he would show me, you’d have to practice on the gig. That’s probably what they mean when they say, on-the-job training. I don’t think you could get the full essence of some of the things he showed me by just practicing at home.”

From a Junior Mance interview in January 2002 issue of Allegro Magazine.



I have always maintained that sports at its best and what we do as improvisers have much in common. I was reading the International Herald Tribune while on tour in Europe (excellent sight to have up when you turn on your browser by the way) and there was an article about a specialist who helps athletes gain a proper frame of mind to compete. This particular article was about the New York Yankees’ newest star, Alex Rodriguez. The guy’s name is Fannin and he writes the following: “The Zone is defined as the moment your mind operates completely in the now. You’re on automatic pilot, in the now, your subconscious mind takes over your conscious thoughts. Your pulse quickens. The adrenaline flows. Your eyes double or triple their shutter speed to give you the illusion that everything around you is in slow motion. You possess super strength. You are graceful with uncanny balance and you appear effortless as you move. Your sixth sense of intuition is armed and operating with supreme knowing. You think with clarity and intelligence. You have the feeling of a purposeful calm, when nothing can go wrong. The Score Performance is: S for self discipline; C for concentration; O for optimism (anything can happen); R for relaxation and E for enjoyment.”

A quote from Dave Leibman’s Newsletter


This quote from From Adam Hall’s The Mandarin Cypher is a pretty good subjective description of what “The Zone” feels like while performing.

“Forebrain processing was taking over the gross elements of the task while the primitive creature conditioned itself, the nerve signals triggering the medulla and pouring adrenaline into the bloodstream, the pulse rate and blood pressure rising as sugar flowed in to feed the muscles, the senses increasing in their refinement so that the input of data should receive almost instantaneous assessment by the cortex.”



Excerpts from an article in the online version of the 802 Union magazine by violinist Joseph Gallo. Volume 111 No. 2 February, 2011

“So, how do you play beautiful notes one after the other? I suggest you make a project of revisiting your slow movements and (deceptively simple) lyrical pieces.

Let your best sound be your guide, not your earlier teachings! The spaces between the notes are beauty opportunities.

There should be no aural spaces between notes, only the fat sound carried over from the preceding note.

In the beginning stages of your new approach to playing beautifully you must think and listen as perhaps never before.

Know that only you (perhaps with the guidance of a teacher/coach who is sympathetic with this concept) can open new doors to the magic of beautiful sound.”

Though this article was written by a violinist for violinists Gallo’s advice works for any and every instrument. Editor, HG


“…man’s foremost instinct was not self-preservation, but preservation of the image he wanted present to others.”

J.C. Goddard, The Threat Case


“I was a professional when I got to Ghana,” Galeota says. “I had been working with the opera and the ballet and doing all these jazz gigs. I could really play.” 

But he soon found out what the locals meant when they told him, “This music is no joke, man.”

One evening Galeota joined an ensemble. “They gave me this little bell part to play. It seemed simple, but I couldn’t play it!” Fortunately,an old man sat behind Galeota and touched him on the shoulder every time he got lost, wordlessly guiding him back to the beat.

“Everything is about community [in Ghana],” Galeota says. “You don’t get to go shed in a practice room until you know what you’re doing. You learn and make mistakes right there in the group, in front of your peers. You feel very vulnerable.”

This experience informs Galeota’s perennially popular classes and ensembles. “There’s no room for ego,” he says. “I don’t teach with handouts or written music; it’s strictly oral tradition. I sing the rhythm and make the students clap the pulse and tell me where ‘one’ is.” Once students find the beat,Galeota calls “switch” and has them sing the rhythms with syllables analogous to a rhythmic solfège.

“I have them sing everything first before they pick up an instrument. That way they have internalized the music before they try to present it.” Galeota stresses that these approaches enhance rather than replace Western learning techniques.

A focus on artistic intangibles gives Galeota’s classes a unique vibe. “An African ensemble is only as strong as its weakest player,” he says. “And the better players see it as their responsibility to bring novices up to their level. The music is very egalitarian.”

Students enjoy this collaborative atmosphere. Galeota says this frees them from ego, which is really a by-product of insecurity, and leaves them feeling more secure as musicians. It’s no wonder his classes are so popular.

… “[In Ghana] music doesn’t belong to any one person; it belongs to everyone and is part of life. You’ll see guys working on a roof and they’re all singing.”

Once students understand that in Ghana, music is the lineage of family, a means of public satire, and a form of history keeping, Galeota urges students to consider what their own music means to them.

From an article about Joe Galeota, by Adam Renn Olean, Berklee Today (Summer 2013)


“Thought is the enemy of flow”  Vinnie Colaiuta

Record Reviews

Click to view reviews for our latest CD “Airegin Revisted



Press Kit

Contact Info:

Hal Galper, Box 81, Cochecton, NY 12726

845: 932-8798


On FaceBook

Short Biography

Galper’s 21st century series of trio albums for Origin Records incorporates his development of “Rubato” playing as a means of melding In his fifth decade as a major jazz artist, In his fifth decade as a major jazz artist, Hal Galper continues the innovation that has made him one of today’s most surprising and satisfying pianists. Galper’s 21st-century series of trio albums, with bassist Jeff Johnson and Drummer John Bishop on Origin Records, incorporates his development of “Rubato” playing as a means of melding melodic lyricism with the rhythmic excitement and “sound of surprise” of the bebop tradition, deepening the jazz experience for musicians and listeners alike. The trio’s latest Origin Records release, “O’s Time” is available at originarts.com

A student of the piano from the age of six, Galper entered the Berklee School of Music in Boston on scholarship in 1955 and studied technique with the famous Madam Chaloff. He quickly gravitated to the city’s jazz clubs, supplementing his formal Berklee training by studying the performances of such Boston stalwarts as Jaki Byard, Sam Rivers and Herb Pomeroy. It wasn’t long before Galper had soaked up enough practical jazz knowledge that he was employed as house pianist at The Stables, Lennie’s On The Turnpike, and Connelly’s, leading Boston jazz emporiums.

Beginning his international performing career in a three-year stint with trumpeter Chet Baker, he went on to be an integral member of the bands of Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods. He also worked with Sam Rivers, Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz and John Scofield, among dozens of other major jazz figures. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Galper formed one of his most critically acclaimed groups as a leader in the early 70’s with trumpeter Randy Brecker, his saxophonist brother Michael, bassist Wayne Dockery and drummer Billy Hart, the new Hal Galper Quintet debuted at Sweet Basil in New York’s Greenwich Village, eventually recording four albums including Reach Out, Speak With a Single Voice, Children of the Night, and Redux 78.

Galper’s discography includes 103 albums, with 32 of them under his name. He is a leader not only as a performer but also as an educator, with emphasis on theory, performance and the worldly side of music as a profession. He was a founding member of New York’s New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and recently retired from his 14 year tenure at Purchase Conservatory. His best selling theory of Forward Motion was the first interactive E-book in which its more than 300 musical examples could be played in a computer browser. It offers insights into the workings of melodies, secrets of phrasing and ways of practicing to enhance jazz performance. Both the E-book and hard cover edition of Forward Motion, along with information on his other books and writings, are available at www.halgalper.com.

Long Biography

In his fifth decade as a major jazz artist, Hal Galper continues the innovation that has made him one of the most surprising and satisfying pianists alive. Galper is at the forefront of players reaching audiences through the time-tested magic of swing while integrating adventurous rhythmic and harmonic concepts. The exploration of rubato playing in his trio is uncovering possibilities that deepen the jazz experience for musicians and listeners alike. On the All About Jazz website, reviewer Dan McGlenaghan summarized the Galper effect:

“He has also found two like-minded musical brothers in bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop, versatile and sophisticated players who can keep up with his “Rubato” concept, one of playing loose and free with tempo and harmony—even structure—twisting the familiar forms like a rubber band, then pulling them back and letting them fly free.”

Galper’s albums with Johnson and Bishop on the Origin label have attracted enthusiasm in Jazz Times, Downbeat, JazzIz and a variety of other publications. A typical reaction came in Downbeat’s review of Aerigin Revisited (2012): “…the high level of integration and communication the trio displays is rare and quite thrilling to experience…”

In his work as an educator, Galper’s teaching and writings provide emerging musicians and veteran players with theoretical knowledge to bolster their music making, and with business sense to help them toward professional success. A founding member of the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he still teaches, Galper is also on the faculty of Purchase Conservatory and frequently travels the college lecture-workshop circuit.

His theory of Forward Motion, first published as a series of articles in Downbeat, offers insights into the workings of melodies, secrets of phrasing and ways of practicing scales to enhance jazz performance. “As most problems with playing music are perceptual in nature,” Hal says, “to change the way you play you have to change the way you think.” He gives private instruction in person and in one-on-one lessons via broadband computer connections. His book Forward Motion has been a big seller since it first appeared. The E-book version was the first interactive E-book in which its more than 300 musical examples could be played in a computer browser. Both the E-book and the hard cover edition are available at www.halgalper.com. Galper’s The Touring Musician: A Small Business Approach to Booking Your Band on the Road is a practical guide to selecting and managing musicians, creating budgets, booking engagements and practical matters such as how to deal with the complexities and frustrations of air travel. Details about his all of his publications and educational videos and articles may be found on his website.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts on April 18, 1938, Galper was a classical piano student of from the age of six. In the 1950s he went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston on a scholarship. He absorbed formal jazz training at Berklee and supplemented his academic work by listening to trailblazing local heroes like pianist Jaki Byard, saxophonist and flutist Sam Rivers and drummer Alan Dawson. Soon, he was sitting in at The Stables, the club managed by Herb Pomeroy, one of his Berklee teachers. Before long, he became house pianist at The Stables and at two other Boston jazz landmarks, Connelly’s and Lenny’s On The Turnpike.

Among Galper’s first influences were Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Jaki Byard, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins. From his earliest days as a professional, he was noted for a stylistic range that encompassed not only the bebop that first inspired him but also the free approach pioneered in the late 1950s and early ‘60s by Ornette Coleman. Free jazz was important to the development of his concept, but bop was at the heart of his creative process. He told Cadence magazine, “ I would not be able to play the way I’m playing now if I hadn’t spent all those intervening years, since I heard that first album of Ornette’s, acquiring a firm jazz foundation via absorbing the vocabulary of bebop.”

On his journey through jazz, Hal has played with artists whose range of styles demanded flexibility. Among them have been Johnny Hodges, Roy Eldridge, James Moody, Art Blakey, Lee Konitz and Slide Hampton. He spent six years with his Boston mentor Sam Rivers and worked with Donald Byrd, Joe Henderson, John Scofield, the Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land Quintet and the Brecker Brothers. Galper’s discography includes 99 albums, 32 of them under his leadership.

Reviewers in the mainstream and music press have singled out Galper for his daring ways. The New York Times found his music “adventurous, exploratory;” Billboard, “Four Star;” Record World, “Startling, very exciting indeed’; Downbeat, “energy-driven and versatile.”

That versatility is reflected in Galper’s days as a sideman. His first major engagement was three years as trumpeter Chet Baker’s pianist, followed by three with Cannonball Adderley and ten years touring and recording with the Phil Woods group. Baker said of the young Hal, “He’s a very good player…I like the way he plays and I like the way he writes. I asked him to sit in with me at the Jazz Workshop and hired him—just like that.” The work with Baker put Galper on the road, into important clubs in New York and other cities for the first time, and introduced him to recording. He is on Baker’s Baby Breeze (Verve) and The Most Important Jazz Album Of 1964-65 (Roulette). The 26-year-old pianist was launched.

“I learned a lot from Chet,” Hal says, “about dynamics, restraint, listening and how to play a ballad, but the parting of the ways came when I wanted to play more modern stuff. I couldn’t make it in New York alone and went back to New England in 1966.” Shortly, in an encounter that looked ahead to one of his most important associations, he met alto saxophonist Phil Woods.

“I was with the house band at Lenny’s,” he said. “Phil was the guest soloist and we played a week together. It was love at first beat.”

Back in New York in 1967, he joined Woods for one-nighters and played short engagements with a number of other top players including Byrd, Henderson, Stan Getz, Chuck Mangione and the Al Cohn-Zoot Sims quintet. Now established in the jazz community, leading the freelance jazz life in the jazz capitol of the world, he recorded three albums under his leadership for the Mainstream label, The Guerilla Band, Inner Journey and Wild Bird.

In 1973 Cannonball Adderley was looking for a keyboard player when George Duke was leaving to rejoin Frank Zappa. Galper auditioned by playing for a weekend with the Adderley quintet at Boston’s Jazz Workshop. That led to three years with the band and a practically nonstop round of touring. His primary role was to play electric piano, but he also composed for the quintet (“Second Son” and “My Lady Blue” are among his contributions) and appeared on three Adderley albums, Inside Straight; Love, Sex and The Zodiac; and Pyramid. “I’m still absorbing what I learned from Cannonball’s band,” Hal said. “I loved the high level of rapport and the energy, but I knew that after three years I didn’t need the road. The time had come to develop my own musical identity.” With regret and anticipation, he left Adderley in 1975.

Another factor in his departure was renewal of his dedication to the kind of piano he had spent most of his life playing. “After all, I was an acoustic pianist,” he said. Galper sealed his decision by wheeling his Fender Rhodes to the end of a dock on the Hudson River and tipping it into the water. He remembers watching bubbles rise to the surface as the instrument sank out of his life.

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Galper mapped out a plan that included trumpeter Randy Brecker, his saxophonist brother Michael, bassist Wayne Dockery and drummer Billy Hart. The new Hal Galper Quintet debuted at Sweet Basil in New York’s Greenwich Village. They recorded albums for Steeplechase in 1976 (Reach Out) and Century in 1978 (Speak With a Single Voice). Bob Moses having replaced Hart on drums, they played at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival. Galper described the quintet as, “a very contemporary band. Everyone played with one hundred percent freedom. But after a while, the direction, the concept, became only a part of what I wanted to play.” Ready for more disciplined, more melodic music, he disbanded the quintet in 1978.

A sideman again, Galper toured with Lee Konitz, Nat Adderley, John Scofield and Slide Hampton. Then in September of 1979 he sat in for a week at the Village Vanguard with the Phil Woods Quartet. Woods hired him to be the award-winning band’s pianist-composer-arranger. “What a gig,” Galper said, “ten years recording and touring the world, playing acoustic bebop, a rare and fortunate experience.”

Galper’s discography includes 14 albums as a member of Woods’s band. During his last year with Woods, Galper’s success with Portrait, his trio album for Concord, encouraged him to again strike out on his own. Beginning in 1990, he toured six months a year with drummer Steve Ellington and and bassist Jeff Johnson. They recorded three more albums for Concord, trio CDs for ENJA and Double Time, collaborations with tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi and trumpeter Tim Hagans, and the Galper-Johnson Maybeck Duets on the Philology label. Hal’s ESP-like compatibility with Johnson looked ahead to the transcendent achievements of his new trio.

“Everything is clear in hindsight,” Galper said, “so when I look back at my musical history I see that I’ve always displayed a penchant for ‘broken-time’ or rubato playing, where the beat is maintained but using subdivided or superimposed rhythms.” His mastery of that approach in the context of his trio with Johnson and Bishop produces some of the most intriguing and satisfying music of the 21st century.


Hal Galper Trio

FACULTY (Selected)

 New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music,1986-Current

 Purchase Conservatory, Retired 2014

 William Paterson College, Fall Lecture Series, Current

 Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camps 1980- 1995

Bud Shank Jazz Camp 1992- 1994

Stanford University Jazz Camp 1991

International Visiting Lecturer to over one hundred Colleges and Universities.


Artists Diploma: Berklee College of Music

Distinguished Alumnus Award: Berklee College of Music

IAJE Certificates of Appreciation: 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996

Harvard University Certificate of Appreciation: 1989

 With the Phil Woods Group:

Since 1980, placed in the top three positions in the Down Beat Readers Poll for Best Acoustic Jazz Group, winning first place in 1985.

Since 1980, placed in the top three positions in the Down Beat Critics Poll for Best Acoustic Jazz Group, winning first place in 1988 and 1989.

In 1982, “Birds Of A Feather” was nominated for a Grammy.

In 1983, “Live At The Vanguard” won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz Group (Acoustic) as well as the Grand Pix Du Disc of France.

In 1985, “Integrity: was voted Best International Jazz Record by the Italian Critics Poll.

In 1985, The group won the Golden Feather Award.

In 1987, The group won the National Association Of Jazz Educators Poll.

 Hal Galper’s Trio:

 “Invitation To A Concert” won #2 position in the Jazz Times Critics Poll of the top ten recordings of 1990.

“Redux ’78” won #5 position in the Jazz Times Critics Poll of1991.

“Best of ’91 Performance”, #4 position in top five, Earshot Magazine’s Critics Choice.

“Best of ’91 Performance #8 position in the top ten, The Boston Globe.

“1996 Award For Outstanding Service to Jazz Education” IAJE

Mr. Galper’s composition :”Gotham Seranade” won Billboard magazine’s Certificate Of Achievement in 1990 & 1991. He has over one-hundred original compositions recorded.


National Endowment Of The Arts.

Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Foundation

Arts International Fund For U.S. Artists

The New England Foundation Of The Arts

National Jazz Service Organization

New York State Council Of The Arts

Delaware Arts Alliance

Arts Midwest

Mid-America Arts Alliance

New England Foudation Of The Arts

Southern Arts Federation

Western States Arts Federation

Meet The Composers Fund

Current Recordings


**** – 4 Stars Audiophile Audition (Pierre Giroux)

An animated and unique offering.

Tempo Rubato is a musical term referring to expressive and rhythmic freedom by a slight speeding up and then slowing down of the tempo of a piece at the discretion of the soloist. The Hal Galper Trio is the principal exponent of this musical style which is front and center of their newest release Airegin Revisited. Hal Galper is a startling pianist, who was a post-bop stylist, now uses the rubato method with a percussive denseness to restructure recognizable tunes. As Galper indicates in the liner notes to this release: “for the most part we’re trying to play ‘free’ on structures, a way of playing developed during my six-year apprenticeship with Sam Rivers”. The first offering is George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” on which the trio builds a captivatingly uneven setting of color and tempos in a joyous fashion before acknowledging a brief traditional riff on the composition. Drummer John Bishop and bassist Jeff Johnson are an effective rhythm team who support the textural construct of Galper’s playing. Since he has developed an appreciation of Brazilian harmony, Galper uses this to perfect effect on “One Step Closer” with a nod to Erroll Garner in the process.

Galper will be 75 in 2013 and has been a leader of his own groups for over four decades. In his early career as a sideman, he played with the likes of Phil Woods, Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderley and Sam Rivers. However it was in his time with Rivers that he broke out with his own style and on Rivers’ composition “Melancholia”, Galper gives his mentor his due. Two long compositions dominate the closing cuts of the disc. First we have George Shearing’s bop ode “Conception”, and the other is Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin”, which as most jazz fans know is Nigeria spelled backwards .When Shearing first introduced the piece, he played it at a breakneck tempo. Later on in his career, he played the introduction at a slow pace and then picked it up after the first chorus to a swing beat. Galper chooses to offer it somewhere in-between and it is filled with fluid introspection along with Johnson showing he is a commanding bassist, and John Bishop demonstrating he is a cleverly vibrant drummer. The trio’s version of the Rollins’ tune is a showpiece for the band’s expressive command of pace, tone, and texture as well as being fluently captivating. This release is a deep dive into the rubato concept that the band plays with animation and uniqueness.

by Ken Dryden, All Music Guide

**** – 4 Stars

Hal Galper’s Rubato playing style, which evolved over a period of years before the pianist made it the centerpiece of his group’s performances, has confounded some listeners with its complex, overlapping rhythms where the musicians seem to be playing independently of one another. Yet those who focus on the interaction will recognize that it is just another method of giving familiar songs a new dimension. Galper’s trio with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop went into the studio without preconceived ideas about any of the pieces played, producing stunning results. George Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” opens as an extended improvisation that barely hints at the theme until the performance is nearly over, with Galper’s long, elaborate lines complemented by his rhythm section’s off-center accompaniment. The remaining tracks are all jazz compositions. The late bassist Jimmy Garrison’s “Ascendant” is not common fare, and opens by showcasing Johnson’s terrific chops backed by Bishop’s crisp brushwork, with the leader’s darting piano added later. Galper worked with the late Sam Rivers in the ’60s, so it is hardly surprising that the saxophonist’s “Melancholia” has long been a part of his repertoire. In his notes he shares that his slower rendition of it was to convey his sense of loss after Rivers’ death. The Rubato method works well in this time-tested piece, gradually building in intensity. The contributions of George Shearing have been somewhat overlooked, as though “Lullaby of Birdland” is his only composition that mattered. Galper reminds listeners that Shearing’s intricate bop vehicle “Conception” remains a challenge to jazz soloists, and the trio’s brilliant reconception of it extends its value into a new century. Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin” has long been a jam session favorite, though the trio’s approach slows it down in the introduction while adding to its drama and exotic air before launching into a wild interpretation which constantly shifts both tempo and focus on this jazz standard; Johnson’s edgy arco bass adds a nice touch. Finally, Galper’s “One Step Closer” blends the influence of Brazilian-like harmony with a cascading, cyclical theme into a majestic performance. Hal Galper’s Rubato playing style isn’t for new or casual listeners, it demands total focus to appreciate its nuances. But the rewards are infinite for jazz fans who give it their undivided attention.

More Reviews



by Ron Wynn, JazzTimes

Pianist Hal Galper’s latest release incorporates influences and approaches from multiple camps, a reflection of the versatility he displayed during lengthy stints with Chet Baker and Phil Woods. But it’s a sign of his growth as a player that he does it in a manner that’s neither tedious nor imitative. Galper sometimes opts for the lyrical, fluid sensibility popularized by stylists like Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau. But on other occasions he works in an edgier mode. His trio, like Evans’ and Mehldau’s, is superbly interactive. Bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop function as equals, even if Galper usually establishes the direction.

Galper’s penchant for melodic and harmonic surprise is evident early on. The disc’s second piece, Ron Miller’s “Babes of Cancun,” veers toward the avant-garde, powered by Galper’s darting solo and Johnson’s explosive statements; their work is ably contrasted by Bishop’s steady, emphatic gestures. But while he becomes increasingly animated, Galper never resorts to gimmicks, and his playing remains tight and controlled. He moves even further outside with “Suspension,” one of three Galper originals, and on the eight-minute title track, Galper’s “Trip the Light Fantastic,” the pianist deftly builds drama, with flourishes and expressive runs converging into a memorable and delightful solo. The third Galper piece, “Get Up and Go,” proves just as rigorous as the title suggests.

There are also plenty of distinctive moments in the unit’s treatment of standards. Galper eschews the waltz tempo Evans made famous with his version of “Alice in Wonderland”; instead, he turns the tune into a spirited romp that deftly extends yet doesn’t distort the original’s rhythmic structure. The trio’s rendition of Jules Styne’s “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” is more intimate and reserved, though Galper’s melodic reading is gorgeous. The finale, “Be My Love,” was once a showcase for Mario Lanza’s operatic exploits in the film ‘The Toast of New Orleans.’ The trio’s updated version features Galper ripping his way through another strong solo. It’s an excellent conclusion to Hal Galper’s finest trio date.

More Reviews


by Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

Pianist Hal Galper began his journey into “rubato” playing early on in the new millennium, after a quite vibrant career in the mainstream, playing and recording with the likes of all-star alto saxophonists Phil Woods and Cannonball Adderley, legendary trumpeter Chet Baker and guitarist John Scofield. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. At a show with guitarist John Stowell at Carlsbad, California’s Museum of Making Music back in 2007, drawing a rather conservative crowd—a group of listeners that was expecting, perhaps, a traditional approach to the standards—grumblings could be heard in the folding chaired audience, hushed comments like, “Why doesn’t he play “How Deep is the Ocean” straight? I almost couldn’t recognize it.”

The term “rubato” refers to a flexibility in approach to tempo, the speeding up or slowing down of the rhythm at the artists’ discretion. Nobody does this quite as furiously as Hal Galper, and with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop, he has hooked up with two like-minded compatriots.

Previous Galper recordings in this style include Agents of Change (Fabola Records, 2006), Furious Rubato (Origin Records, 2007), and Art-Work (Origin Records, 2009). All of these are exciting musical adventures, but E Pluribus Unum—with, again, Johnson and Bishop—is the most electrifying of the batch, due certainly to the on-the-edge freshness and vitality of the sound’s live aspect.

Irving Berlin’s “How Deep is the Ocean” opens the show, and it is a turbulent sea, wind whipped and wildly churning. The trio plays with a sense of abandon, but the thread of the familiar melody doesn’t break. Other non-originals include a particularly prickly version of Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane,” and a calamitous reading of Charlie Parker’s “Constellation” to close the show. In between, Galper includes four tunes from his own pen, starting with the searing, headlong “Rapunzel’s Luncheonette,” the reflective but still energetic “Wandering Spirit,” and the aptly-titled “Invitation to Openness.”

The appreciative crowd, the night of this recording at the 2009 Earshot Jazz Festival, accepted that invitation, and E Pluribus Unum permanently documents Galper taking his artistry to a new level.

More Reviews


2009 Jazz Critics Poll by Geoffrey Himes, The Village Voice

Hal Galper / Reggie Workman / Rashied Ali, “Art-Work”


Hal Galper: Art-Work (Origin)

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by Bill Barton, Coda

The Harvard Dictionary of Music defines rubato as: “An elastic, flexible tempo involving slight accelerandos and ritordandos that alternate according to the requirements of musical expression.” Pianist Hal Galper’s liner notes elucidate quite eloquently his theories regarding rubato, parsing the basic pulse, “bending and shaping” the melody and harmony and ñ as he emphasizes ñ “”you have to swing whatever tempo you’re playing either basic, subdivided or superimposed.” The proof is in the pudding as the old clichÈ goes, and this CD swings in a complex circular fashion unlike anything else I’ve heard recently: freedom and form dance on a balance beam with no missteps. Two Miles Davis pieces (“Milestones” and “Miles Ahead”), Trane’s “Naima,” four Galper originals and a lovely introspective composition by bassist Johnson titled “Zen” are on the program. The opening “Milestones” sets the bar high in a bustling, multi-faceted interpretation. There are many highlights, including the aforementioned “Zen” and Galper’s “Chromatic Fantasy.” Bishop’s drumming is unfailingly imaginative and fervid. If you think that there’s nothing “new” or “original” to be heard in the piano-bass-drums trio format this CD will likely change your mind. This is fresh, invigorating music played with passion, soul, precision and razor-sharp intellect.

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Stuart Broomer, Toronto Life / CODA, 2006-10-05

This 2006 release (FABCD#11) can be found on Fabola reords. It might as well be called fabulous records. The music is great and so is the sonic quality of the recording. This CD takes you on a journey of creativity and is a lesson on how to play together as a trio, play great melodies ‘in the moment’, and with phrasing. It will be in my CD player for a while. Digesting this level of playing takes a while. This is not your typical commercial jazz radio station playlist material (3 cuts are over 11 or 12 minutes long). It’s art music, and I mean that in a good way

The music is played with a ‘loose’ feel most of the time, with the drummer and bassist playing around the pulse rather than just stating it in a more typical ding-ding-ding-dica-ding (ride cymbal) way. Every cut draws you in and has something to say. When the drums and bass on a few tunes do break in to a steady pulse, it’s that much more exciting. It reminds me of the steady quartet gig (1980’s) I had with Steve Davis (former Coltrane bassist) where he would sometimes play in a two feel for what seemed a dozen choruses on a tune and I’m thinking “When is he…?”… but how sweet it was when 4/4 came along after that anticipation! About seven minutes in on Liquid Audio (Galper original) it gets really intense. The phrasing of all three players is absolutely beautiful. Hal’s piano voicings have the most amazingly thick but wonderful harmonic crunches, especially in dear Old Stockholm. Dynamics and emotion are also here in abundance, which just makes it that more enjoyable. Although there were many, the piano line at 1:45 through 2:03 was a special moment for me.

The playing is ‘in the moment’ as I said earlier. You know it when you hear it, and you know that’s the best stuff. Sonar, an original by Hal, has a up tempo groove at 3:00 in and then descends into wildness. I listened to this on a NAD stereo with Paradigm Studio 20 monitors and loved the overall sound and mix. One little moment – the 3 rd last chord in E.S.P. seemed like the piano voicing had 1 or 2 extra notes against the bass root that my ears said was not on purpose but this is real jazz and playing at the edge and at this level is fantastic. I also would have like more of the cuts to break out of the loose feel, but that’s my own preference. The title of this CD, the apparent vision, and playing are all in agreement here making Agents of Change a ‘must-have’.

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