In his album notes, pianist Galper writes that he was unaware of what "an interesting and unique composer" his longtime bass-playing associate Jeff Johnson is. The three pieces that Johnson contributed to Cubist leave no doubt about his writing ability. The title tune plus "Kiwi," "Artists" and "Scene West" give Galper, Johnson and drummer John Bishop plenty of challenging material. They make the most of it. Galper's post-bop credentials with Cannonball Adderly, Chet Baker and Phil Woods, among others, are part of his solid history. A few years ago he began to explore the challenges and charms of time-play, rubato, bypassing strict tempo—"stealing time," as the Italians sometimes put it. The approach requires that all hands feel the time or non-time at the same intensity, with the same flexibility. Galper, Johnson, Bishop and tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi feel it together. "Scene West" is thirteen minutes of slowly building intensity capped by a bear-growling Johnson bass solo. Galper rounds out the album with compatible pieces not written by Johnson; Miles Davis's "Solar," Johnny Carisi's "Israel," a relaxed Ellington "In A Sentimental Mood" with another superb Johnson solo and laid-back, adventurous Bergonzi, and Galper's own "Scufflin'," which has stretches of Bishop in strict time that is not entirely unwelcome.
Cubist is a stimulating experience throughout.