Forward by Dave Leibman
Hal and myself go back to the first loft I had on west 19th Street. In fact I remember a session with Bob Moses, Randy and Mike Brecker doing some fusion stuff back in 1969. He is definitely one of the senior citizens of jazz having served his time with greats like Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods. Hal has recorded some remarkable music, ran his own trio from top to bottom meaning music, bookings, PR et al, for most of the 1990s; authored a book on the touring musician that is a goldmine of information; been one of the prime sources of straight forward talk in the jazz education business and most important, a great pianist to have playing alonsgside you. It has been my pleasure many times to “hit” with Galps.
Hal is from the generation slightly ahead of mine having done his early apprenticeship years in the 60s, when there were few jazz books or courses to take part in. But like myself, Hal thought through a lot through the years about how to articulate his specific musical ideas. The material in this book has been in the works for decades with articles, pamphlets, etc., along the way explaining parts of the philosophy from time to time. I have in my collection Hal’s notes from the early 80s about forward motion, pentatonics and upper structures. But alongside the desire to explain the music, he also possesses a great gift for writing in such a way that you feel like he is there in front of you giving the lesson. His language is clear, precise and thoughtful with a pervasive sense of humor throughout as well wonderful stories from the real jazz world that underscores his points.
Galps sums it up in his own words at the beginning of Chapter Three: “Improvising is the reordering of the notes of a scale into their strongest melodic possibilities.” “Forward Motion” is chock full of ideas that most improvisers never thought of in such detail in order to achieve this “reordering”, or put simply theme and variations ad infinitum. What Hal concentrates on for the most part is the very subject that is least discussed in texts of any sort, which is the use of rhythm, jazz rhythm to be exact, in order to improvise countless ways on a given line. We are used to books of variations based on pitch changes, harmonic super-impositions, syncopation, etc., all harmonic and melodic ideas that Hal does touch upon also. But with his emphasis on the upbeat and half time as the important mechanisms for feeling jazz rhythm along with other concepts, Galper offers countless ways of manipulating both simple and more complex material for unlimited possibilities. The forward motion theory uses concepts of displacement, sequential reordering, unusual accent points, appogiaturas strategically placed and more.
There are some ingenious ideas throughout. One in particular was very interesting: try using the rhythms only of a complicated head like “Confirmation” but in the context of another tune and chord cycle for freeing up one’s patterned ways of thinking. His comments on King Oliver’s admonishment to Louis Armstrong about the importance of melody before one attempts embellishment and even some insight into Bach’s use of “FM” make for entertaining reading. And the truly innovative aspect of Forward Motion is the interactive part. Students will be able to hear and play along with the written examples. Hal is up on the techno scene for sure!
I am so pleased that someone has addressed these ideas, especially on rhythmic issues in a coherent, unified and practical manner with abundant examples to play. Even glancing at this book will generate new ideas for improvisers at any level.