It must be gratifying to accomplish everything you set out to do. Pianist Hal Galper says he has done just that. And, after a career that included work with trumpeter Chet Baker and saxophonists Cannonball Adderley and Stan Getz, along with a ten year stint in saxophonist Phil Woods' band (1980-1990), followed by ten years of touring and recording with his own trio, that claim would have been a valid one then, before the dawn of the new millennium. But Origin Records came into the picture in 2007, serving the pianist as a vehicle for the recorded presentation of his deep journey into the rubato style, beginning with Furious Rubatto (2007). Six more Origin Records trio discs followed, ending with The Zone (2019), with a quartet set slipped into the mix—Cubist (2018), with saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi sitting in with Galper and what had become his regular trio with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop.
And that is how to accomplish everything you want to, charge through a satisfying, rock solid career and top it off by spending over a decade putting out your best and most innovative art.
But let us look back, to 1977, at Galper's teaming with the Brecker Brothers, trumpeter Randy and saxophonist Michael, as they were rising to the top as Brecker Brothers, one of the then most exciting new ensembles in jazz. Galper made two early '70s albums with the Breckers, so Live At the Berlin Philharmonic 1977 represents something of a reunion. The two CD set—featuring Galper and the Brecker Brothers, with Wayne Dockery on bass and Bob Moses on drums—charges full bore into a raw, freewheeling straight-ahead jazz-with-an-attitude assault, adrenaline and testosterone bubbling over the top.
The band takes a lot of chances. They roll in that mode, opening with Galper's "Now Hear This." a rip roaring fourteen minutes of envelope-pushing hand-to-hand combat. Randy and Michael are on fire, blistering the air in unison and in their solo spots. Galper pounds the piano keys like a blacksmith hammering a piece of hot metal, making a "Battle of the Pianos" with McCoy Tyner sound like a fine idea.
Two discs, six tunes—all of them extended workouts, including the explosive twenty-five minute runaway train "Speak With A Single Voice." The atmosphere doesn't change; the attitude doesn't waver. These guys came to play some no-holds-barred jazz, with a powerhouse trendsetter in the leader seat.