For a few years now, veteran pianist Hal Galper has been experimenting with an approach to jazz improvisation that he refers to as "rubato." This concept, as demonstrated on a series of recordings for Origin Records, uses familiar pieces and song forms and takes rather spontaneous liberty with tempo and tune structure. This may not seem like anything too out of the ordinary for the solo pianist, but within the context of a trio it would appear to be as difficult to pull off as it would be for listeners to digest. Fortunately, Galper has taken up with the willing and able rhythm team of drummer John Bishop and bassist Jeff Johnson. The wonderfully spry trio throw caution to the wind and end up with cohesive, soulful results on Airegin Revisited.
Along with a thorough deconstruction of the Sonny Rollins classic, Galper, a veteran of classic ensembles led by the likes of Phil Woods and Sam Rivers, carves a new path through George Shearing's "Conception" and River's "Melancholia." The pianist's own "One Step Closer" is influenced by the harmonic conventions of Brazilian writers, and perhaps due to the tune's striking chord color features some of the disc's more lyrical playing from both Galper and Johnson.
Johnson and Bishop bookend Jimmy Garrison's "Ascendant" with in-the-pocket drum and bass hipness. Galper enters midway with an inspiring display of single-note lines that weave magically around Bishop's dynamic surges.