Tuesday, March 28, 2017

George Freeman - 1974 - Man & Woman

George Freeman
Man & Woman

01. Till There Was You 5:07
02. You've Changed 5:53
03. I Ain't Got Nobody 4:31
04. Groovy Lady 4:49
05. Funny How Time Slips Away 5:08
06. Squeeze Me 6:04
07. Stardust 4:00
08. Georgia On My Mind 6:07

Bass – Bobby Cranshaw
Drums – Bernard Trapps (tracks: B2, B4), Buddy Williams (tracks: A1 to B1, B3)
Electric Piano – Kenny Baron
Guitar – George Freeman
Piano [Acoustic], Electric Piano – Harold Mabern Jr.

While Man & Woman embraces a mellower approach than guitarist George Freeman's other Groove Merchant dates, it's by no means the late-night boudoir record its erotic cover suggests -- the stripped-down, nuanced sound instead adheres to a relatively straightforward soul-jazz formula, more focused and earthbound in its orientation than the average Freeman session. Teaming here with pianists Harold Mabern and Kenny Barron, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Buddy Williams, the guitarist embraces the change of pace, settling comfortably into the music's slow, slinky grooves -- not only are his solos as imaginative as before, but they also boast a rippling sensuality otherwise absent from his previous records.

George Freeman - 1973 - New Improved Funk

George Freeman 
New Improved Funk

01. New Improved Funk 2:26
02. Daffy 3:34
03. Happy Fingers 4:30
04. All In The Game 4:31
05. Big Finish 6:25
06. Guitar Lover Man 3:16
07. Good Morning Heartache 5:02
08. Some Enchanted Evening 5:12
09. Confirmed Truth

Bass – LeRoy Jackson (tracks: A3 to A5)
Drums – Marion Booker (tracks: A1, A2, B1 to B3), Bob Guthrie (tracks: A3 to A5)
Featuring, Tenor Saxophone – Von Freeman
Guitar – George Freeman
Organ – Bobby Blevins (tracks: A1, A2, B1 to B3)
Piano – John Young (tracks: A3 to A5)

The title says it all in three words, but New Improved Funk demands further elucidation. It's a fun house ride that veers sharply from funk to jazz to soul and back again, its scattershot approach nevertheless proves the best showcase George Freeman's guitar ever had. Recorded with two separate backing groups, New Improved Funk sprawls all over the stylistic map, and virtually the only common denominator from track to track is Freeman's guitar. He further confounds expectations with skronky solos and blissfully psychedelic interludes that go nowhere, but then the journey is more important than the destination here anyway. Somehow this mess still comes together, galvanized by Von Freeman's fiery tenor sax and its undeniably impressive gutbucket grooves. Everything that it's advertised to be.

George Freeman - 1972 - Franticdiagnosis

George Freeman 

01. Franticdiagnosis 19:06
02. The Bump 7:50
03. Free-Man 8:20
04. God Bless The Child 5:15

Congas [Congos] – Billy Connors
Drums – Gary Jenkins
Drums [Bass Drum], Cymbal – Eddie Moore
Flute [Alto] – Dave Hubbard
Guitar – George Freeman
Organ – Caesar Frazier
Percussion, Percussion [Gores], Cowbell, Tambourine – Donald Rivers
Synthesizer [Arp] – Charles Earland
Tenor Saxophone – Von Freeman

A legendary bit of funk – and a killer record from one of the most unique guitarists ever! George Freeman's got a sound and a style unlike any other player we can think of – an approach to funky guitar that's often got a really hard touch on the strings, and which gets nice and noisy at the best funky moments. Freeman's probably best known for the few obscure records he cut with Groove Holmes, but this album's his out and out masterpiece – a rare one-off session cut in the funky Philly scene and supervised by DJ Sonny Hopson – and featuring a rare mix of players that includes Cesar Frazier on organ and Charles Earland on Arp! The mix of organ and Arp is really incredible – especially on the side-long jammer "Franticdiagnosis", which runs for nearly 20 minutes, and is one of the most messed-up funky jazz jams of the 70s! Other players include Von Freeman on tenor sax and Dave Hubbard on alto flute – and the album features the legendary jazz dance track "The Bump", plus the cuts "Free-Man" and "God Bless The Child".

George Freeman - 1971 - Introducing George Freeman Live with Charlie Earland Sitting In

George Freeman
Introducing George Freeman Live with Charlie Earland Sitting In

01. Stormy Monday Blues 3:04
02. A Very Good Year 2:49
03. 3 O'Clock In The Morning Blues 6:42
04. Let It Be 3:52
05. Something 3:51
06. Getting To Know You 3:34
07. Funky Walk 3:28
08. Wine And Roses 3:04
09. Girl Talk 4:15
10. Strangers In The Night / Old Folks 6:14

Guitar – George Freeman
Organ – Charles Earland

A good friend sent me a cop of this one years ago, and I have absolutely no information about this album, the only thing I found online was an entry in discogs, even Rateyourmusic has no entry for it.
SO, if you know more about this album please let me know.

By the way ... I love the cover version of Let It Be!

George Freeman - 1971 - Birth Sign

George Freeman 
Birth Sign

01 Mama, Papa, Brother 5:33
02 Cough It Up 5:20
03 My Scenery 5:55
04 Must Be, Must Be 5:32
05 Birth Sign 5:22
06 Hoss 7:00
07 My Ship 6:45

Drums – Billy Mitchell
Guitar – George Freeman
Organ – Robert Pierce, Sonny Burke
Tenor Saxophone – Kalaparusha-(Maurice McIntyre), Von Freeman
Trombone – Lester Lashley

Jazz guitarist George Freeman is the least prominent of his famous family from Chicago, primarily because he stayed home and was a breadwinner for his wife and children. Nonetheless, Freeman has been an important member of the Chi-Town soul-jazz movement that helped foment that style. In his early professional years starting in the late '40s, Freeman recorded with the territory bands of Joe Morris from 1946 through 1949 and with Tom Archia in 1947 and 1948, and was asked to support touring musicians coming through town, including Lester Young and Charlie Parker, recording with Parker for the Savoy label (although uncredited until after the fact). In the mid-'50s, he started a long association with organist Richard "Groove" Holmes, and though relatively undocumented, did appear as a sideman and song contributor on the World Pacific and Prestige labels with Holmes. While working with Gene Ammons and Shirley Scott, Freeman decided against any more road work. His debut album, Birth Sign, was recorded in 1969 with help from organists Sonny Burke and Robert Pierce. George Freeman is the brother of tenor saxophonist Von Freeman and drummer Eldridge "Bruz" Freeman, and the uncle of Chico Freeman.
He has worked with members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, and Lester Lashley) and extensively with his brother Von Freeman (who has also played piano on his dates), and he occasionally puts down the guitar to play saxophone himself. In the '70s, as soul-jazz was merging into disco, he produced three albums for Sonny Lester's Groove Merchant/LRC company -- New Improved Funk, Man and Woman, and All in the Game. Recording companies ignored Freeman for nearly 20 years before Joanie Pallatto and Bradley Parker-Sparrow signed him to their Southport/Orchard label, issuing Rebellion in 1995 and George Burns in 1999. His only other major-label effort, At Long Last George, was released by Savant Records in 2001. Over the years, George Freeman has stayed in Chicago, and has worked with an impressive array of great jazz artists, including Ben Webster, Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Criss, Johnny Griffin, Jimmy McGriff, Les McCann, Eldee Young, Harold Mabern, Kenny Barron, Bob Cranshaw, Buddy Williams, Kurt Elling, Rene Marie, John Young, Red Holloway, and the Deep Blue Organ Trio, and lesser-known Chicagoans Lou Gregory, Lloyd Wilson, Ron Cooper, Maurice Brown, and Michael Raynor.

Chicago electric guitarist George Freeman was a quintessential sideman when backing bands led by Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Gene Ammons, and Shirley Scott. This is his debut recording, done in the height of the soul-jazz era circa 1969, featuring his famed brother Von Freeman on tenor sax for four tracks, drummer Billy Mitchell throughout, and either Sonny Burke or Robert Pierce on the Hammond B-3 organ. At times Freeman's sound traces to no single individual source, though it is steeped in Chi-Town blues and a progressive stance that is apart from the Wes Montgomery/George Benson school of the day. Freeman's individualism is heard to best effect as he rocks out with a bit of distortion and loose associations on the boogaloo "Mama, Papa, Brother," while during the title track you hear pinched, lemon-sour notes under a tribal village groove that approaches Native American beats. Burke, a truly unsung hero of the organ, burns for long stretches during the ultra-slow standard "My Ship" and slides through the changes of "Hoss," which is clearly based on the changes of "Sweet Georgia Brown." Von Freeman is completely in tune with his brother when they play in perfect tandem on the soulful "Cough It Up," fluttering à la Charlie Parker, while ramping down on the ballad "My Scenery," where the saxophonist plays a remarkable, in-tune, enjoyable solo. The cut separate from the rest, "Must Be, Must Be," includes AACM members Lester Lashley and Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre on trombone and tenor sax, respectively. It's an easy blues elevated by the horns and Pierce's fleet multiple note lines rivaling Jimmy Smith, representing the ultimate modern confluence in what was happening at that time in Chicago. Too bad the world never really heard enough of George Freeman, and although this is a small taste, it is a more than adequate amuse-bouche.

O'Donel Levy - 1977 - Time Has Changed

O'Donel Levy 
Time Has Changed

01. Time Has Changed
02. Have You Heard
03. Dancing Girl
04. Butta
05. Sophisticated Disco
06. Love Will Never Die

Bass – Marcel Turner
Drums – Robert Wyatt
Flute – George Young
Guitar – O'Donel Levy
Percussion – Jimmy Maelen
Piano, Synthesizer – Robert Butta
Saxophone, Flute – David E. Smith
Trumpet – Jimmy Wilson
Vocals – Aleta Greene

Recorded at Flite 3 Recording Studio, Baltimore and Mediasound Studios, New York.

Little known album. Space deep funk jazz with vocals cut - "Time Has Changed"! Very much in the vein of Gary Bartz's 'Music Is My Sanctuary'. Rare guitar-led funky jazz album that came out on subsiduary of Miami's TK records.
The time has changed really, big production, the funky guitar groove sometimes shines through the slick instrumental cloud and somewhere must even be Robert Wyatt on drums!

O'Donel Levy - 1976 - Windows

O'Donel Levy 

01. Panama Red 6:31
02. I Believe In Miracles 5:43
03. Freedom And Good Times 5:27
04. I'll Sing From My Window 5:34
05. Moisturizer 6:15
06. Green Machine 5:15

Bass – Gary Grainger
Drums – Stafford Levy
Guitar, Written-By – O'Donel Levy
Percussion – Jimmy Maelen
Piano, Synthesizer – Charles Covington
Saxophone, Flute – David E. Smith, George Young, Lew Delgatto
Strings – Frederick Buldrini, Guy Lumia, Harold Kohan, Jesse Levy, Julian Baker, Norman Carr, Richard Locker, Richard Maximoff, Richard Sortomme, Tony Posk
Strings, Horns, Arranged By, Conductor – Brad Baker
Trombone – Barry Rogers, Joe Randazzo
Trumpet – Jimmy Wilson, Lewis M. Soloff, Randy Brecker
Vocals – Aleta Greene

Recorded at Track Studios (a.k.a. Track Recorders), Washington D.C., August 1976.
Overdubs and mixing at Media Sound Studios, August 1976.

Following on the heels of George Benson's crossover blockbuster Breezin', Windows casts O'Donel Levy in the same mainstream, fusion-inspired mold, complete with vocals. To Levy's credit, the album never feels like a sell-out bid, and if anything, the mellow context underscores the chromatic beauty of his singular guitar aesthetic. With its bold, lush arrangements, the album at times boasts a cinematic splendor calling to mind the blaxploitation sound. Inasmuch as funk is ever subtle, Windows is ripe with nuance and resonance, yet never falls prey to the sleepiness of smooth jazz.

O'Donel Levy - 1973 - Simba

O'Donel Levy

01. Bad, Bad, Simba 7:16
02. Kilimanjaro Cookout 4:53
03. Playhouse 4:37
04. Sierra Lonely 5:34
05. Sad, Sad, Simba 6:07
06. Joni 5:10
07. Nigerian Knights 5:06

Bass – Tony Levin
Drums – Steve Gadd
Electric Piano – Warren Bernhardt
Flugelhorn – Alan Rubin, Burt Collins, Cecil Bridgewater, Lew Soloff
Flute, Piccolo Flute, Baritone Saxophone – Eddie Daniels
Guitar – O'Donel Levy
Percussion – Jim Madison
Trombone – Bill Watrous
Trumpet – Burt Collins, Ernie Royal, Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff

Recorded July 2-3, 1973

Simba is one hot album of funky soul-jazz. O'Donel Levy had played with Richard "Groove" Holmes and Jimmy McGriff on other albums for producer Sonny Lester's Groove Merchant label, and even had one released under his own name (Black Velvet), but this was something different. Black Velvet had a couple Levy originals, but relied heavily on cover tunes. For Simba, Lester brought in Manny Albam to supply both the tunes and the arrangements, and it makes all the difference in the world. The songs are catchy and funky, and play to Levy's strengths as a player. The arrangements are fantastic, played by a who's who list of '70s session men (including a young David Sanborn and Tony Levin, who throws down throughout). It's a shame that the Albam/Levy partnership didn't last longer, because later in the same year Levy had a follow-up (Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky) without Albam, and it was back to another album of unremarkable covers. Simba is the O'Donel Levy album to own.

O'Donel Levy - 1973 - Friday the 13th - Cook County Jail

O'Donel Levy
Friday the 13th - Cook County Jail

01 Freedom Suite, Part I 8:58
02 Freedom Suite, Part II 15:45
03 Green Dolphin Street 5:51
04 Everything Happens To Me 5:41
05 Cherokee 4:29

Recorded At – Cook County Jail

Bass – Mickey Bass (tracks: 1, 2), Sam Jones (tracks: 3 to 5)
Drums – Louis Hayes (tracks: 3 to 5), Marion Booker Jr. (tracks: 1, 2)
Guitar – George Freeman (tracks: 1, 2), O'Donel Levy (tracks: 1, 2)
Organ – Jimmy McGriff
Piano [Electric] – Cedar Walton (tracks: 3 to 5)
Saxophone – Lucky Thompson (tracks: 3 to 5)

This album contains two separate sets that were both performed before inmates at the Cook County Jail one day in 1972. Organist Jimmy McGriff and his quintet (with guitarists George Freeman and O'Donell Levy, bassist Mickey Bass and drummer Marion Booker, Jr.) performs his lengthy two-part

"Freedom Suite," generating a great deal of heat. Lucky Thompson, mostly on soprano, jams on three standards with keyboardist Cedar Walton, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes. Thompson's hot playing (particularly on "Cherokee") makes this album worth searching for.

O'Donel Levy - 1973 - Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky

O'Donel Levy
Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky

01. Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky 3:20
02. Marbles 6:25
03. Will It Go Round In Circles 3:20
04. Livin' For The City 4:59
05. Sideshow 4:48
06. Willow Weep For Me 6:20
07. Hey, Love! 3:17
08. Are You Foolin Me 3:07

Drums – Hugh Walker
Guitar – George Davis
Guitar, Vocals – O'Donel Levy
Keyboards, Synthesizer – Charles Covington
Percussion – James H. Madison (tracks: A1, A3), Ralph MacDonald (tracks: A1, A3)
Saxophone – David William Sanborn* (tracks: A1, A3), Joseph Temperley* (tracks: A1, A3)
Trombone – Michael Gibson (tracks: A1, A3)
Trumpet – Lewis M. Soloff (tracks: A1, A3)
Vocals, Percussion – Judd Watkins

Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky, O'Donel Levy's follow-up to his excellent Simba, is something of a letdown in comparison. Simba featured a bunch of solid tunes, written and dynamically arranged by Manny Albam. Although both albums were produced by label head Sonny Lester, without Albam's input these sessions seem somewhat lost. The title cut is not a direct ripoff of the Allen Toussaint tune, but it is fairly derivative. The second tune is a direct ripoff. "Marbles," credited to Levy, is actually a John McLaughlin tune, from his album Devotion, and it's downhill from there. Billy Preston's "Will It Go Round in Circles" is taken at breakneck speed, and let's just say Levy is better off sticking with instrumentals. "Livin' for the City" gets a heavy wah-wah makeover, but is one of the better tracks on the album. The rest is just unremarkable. "Sideshow" shows the ballad side of Levy's playing, and the standard "Willow Weep for Me" is treated as a pretty straight blues. None of this is awful; it just lacks the great tunes and arrangements of its predecessor. Unless you simply can't get enough O'Donel Levy, skip Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky and stick with Simba.

O'Donel Levy - 1972 - Dawn Of A New Day

O'Donel Levy 
Dawn Of A New Day

01. Dawn Of A New Day 4:11
02. Baa Waa 3:39
03. I Wanna Be Where You Are 3:31
04. Where Is The Love 2:33
05. People Make The World Go Round 4:40
06. Maiden Voyage 5:48
07. Super Woman 4:41
08. I Want To Make It With You 3:42
09. Goin On To Detroit 4:16

Bass – George Russell
Drums – Chester Thompson
Guitar – O'Donel Levy
Organ, Electric Piano – Charles Covington
Trombone – William Watrous, Eddie Burt, Wayne Andre
Trumpet – Burt Collins, Cecil Bridgewater, Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm

Dawn of a New Day expands the Baroque funk horizons introduced on the brilliant Breeding of Mind, O'Donel Levy's previous collaboration with arranger Manny Albam. A bigger, bolder effort, Dawn's panoramic sound also borrows much from blaxploitation cinema. Joined by collaborators including trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater and organist Charles Covington, Levy's remarkable leads seem to cut and paste elements from across the history of jazz guitar, most closely recalling the lean, mean genius of Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. His solos are graceful yet muscular, each note crackling with energy. The material here is also excellent, sidestepping the usual Groove Merchant soul and pop warhorses in favor of material including "Maiden Voyage" and "People Make the World Go Around." Levy's originals are also strong, in particular the title cut.

O'Donel Levy - 1972 - Breeding Of Mind

O'Donel Levy
Breeding Of Mind

01. We've Only Just Begun 3:55
02. It's Too Late 3:33
03. Breeding Of Mind 3:10
04. Cherries 4:00
05. On Broadway 3:34
06. Ideal 3:58
07. Never Can Say Goodbye 5:15
08. Let's Stay Together 3:08
09. The Chocolate Horse 3:15
10. Angel Eyes 4:29

Bass – Eric Ward
Drums – Chester Thompson
Guitar – O'Donel Levy
Organ – Charles Covington

Breeding of Mind pairs guitarist O'Donel Levy with arranger Manny Albam for a genre-defying set that embraces elements of jazz, funk and baroque pop -- the end result is soulful and sublime, couching Levy's uncommonly expressive tone in a series of bold, lush contexts that underline the sophistication of his craft. Backed by bassist Eric Ward, organist Charles Covington and drummer Chester Thompson, Levy transcends the limitations of Groove Merchant warhorses like "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "We've Only Just Begun" with aplomb, winnowing deep inside their familiar melodies to reveal new layers of loveliness, but Breeding of Mind is undoubtedly best served by originals like "Cherries" and "The Chocolate Horse," which address contemporary funk sensibilities with remarkable imagination and intricacy.

O'Donel Levy - 1971 - Black Velvet

O'Donel Levy
Black Velvet

01. Watch What Happens
02. Granny
03. I'll Close My Eyes
04. Nature's Child
05. Love Story
06. Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
07. I'll Be There
08. Misty
09. Call Me
10. You've Made Me So Very Happy

Bass – Alarza Lee Collins
Congas – Nathaniel Rice, Jr.
Drums – Chester Thompson
Electric Piano, Organ – Charles Covington
Guitar – O'Donel Levy
Percussion – William Thorpe
Saxophone [Tenor], Flute – Arthur 'Fats' Theus
Trumpet – Billy Skinner

As its title portends, Black Velvet boasts a smooth, rich texture absent from O'Donel Levy's subsequent Groove Merchant sessions -- its mellow, stoned-soul sensibilities nevertheless complement the guitarist perfectly, affording him the space to weave a series of righteously beautiful solos. Like so many Groove Merchant efforts, the album relies far too much on the pop charts for material -- pap like "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "I'll Be There," and "Theme from Love Story" turns up like bad pennies -- but the arrangements are lovely, spotlighting contributions from organist Charles Covington, reedist Fats Theus, and trumpeter Billy Skinner. Levy also proves himself a composer of some distinction, contributing a pair of charming originals, "Granny" and "Nature's Child."

Hal Galper - 1980 - Ivory Forest

Hal Galper 
Ivory Forest 

01. Ivory Forest 7:36
02. Continuity 6:32
03. My Dog Spot 6:31
04. Monk's Mood 5:58
05. Yellow Days 3:48
06. Rapunzel's Luncheonette 9:36

Bass – Wayne Dockery
Drums – Adam Nussbaum
Guitar – John Scofield
Piano – Hal Galper

Recorded October 31, 1979 and November 1, 1979, Ludwigsburg

Although a quartet is listed on this set (pianist Hal Galper, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Wayne Dockery, and drummer Adam Nussbaum), only three of the selections are performed by the full group. Galper's "Continuity" (one of four of his originals) is a piano/guitar duet; Galper also duets with Dockery on "Yellow Days," but sits out altogether on Scofield's solo rendition of "Monk's Mood." Well-played, if not overly memorable, modern mainstream music.

This album is officially by the Hal Galper Quartet, but the front cover (of the CD edition, at least) has only "Hal Galper -- John Scofield" printed, as if they shared equal billing. Whatever the case, the personnel is Hal Galper, piano & composer of the four originals here, Scofield, guitar, Wayne Dockery on acoustic bass and future John Scofild Trio drummer Adam Nussbaum. The commements below concern Scofield's participation in the session, but before I make them I'll say that Galper is a fantastic, tasty pianist who, like Jim McNeely and Alan Broadbent, is unfortuately overlooked by the larger jazz audience.

The first piece is an unacompanied guitar solo (a rarity in the Scofield catalog) where Sco plays "Monk's Mood" (by Monk, of course). The 1965 Spanish popular song Yellow Days follows (it's best known, with its English lyric, as a Sinatra tune) and it is the only tune of the six not to feature Sco (Nussbaum is out too--it's a piano/bass duet).

Then comes the four Galper originals, quartet numbers all except "Continuity," which is a guitar-piano duet.

Scofield's sound and playing are superb--this is before he found the Roland Jazz Chorus amp sound, and the tone he gets on these early dates to me is just timeless. Sco, told Bill Milkowski in 1990, speaking of another late-70s session of his, "The sound of the guitar was not really together then. I've gotten much more adept at dealing with effects to fatten up my sound and get a wider variety of tones and colors. But basically, I hear all the same sort of stuff I do now." With all due respect, I beg to differ about the sound and it's "togetherness". With his cleaner tone, all the nuances of his amazing touch are brought forward--you aren't listening through the veil of a chorus effect. Perhaps it's just a matter of what context he's in--on recent albums like "Überjam," the guitar processing seems entirely appropriate and enhances his sound. On the other hand, in a more classic jazz setting like this date or his fabulous early-1980s trio records with Steve Swallow, I'm so glad he chose to use the sound he used.

Hal Galper - 1978 - Speak with a Single Voice

The Hal Galper Quintet
Speak with a Single Voice

01. Speak With A Single Voice
02. I Can't Get Started
03. Waiting For Chet
04. Blue And Green
05. Now Hear This

Bass – Wayne Dockery
Drums – Bob Moses
Piano – Hal Galper
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Michael Brecker
Trumpet – Randy Brecker

Recorded Live In Feburary, 1978 at ROSY'S in New Orleans, LA. US

The Brecker Brothers (tenor saxophonist Mike and trumpeter Randy) join pianist Hal Galper, bassist Wayne Dockery, and drummer Bob Moses for a set of high-quality modern hard bebop. The Breckers spent much of the 1970s in the studios, so this LP (not yet reissued on CD) gave one a rare opportunity to hear them during the era playing in a noncommercial setting. The quintet performs three Galper originals (including the Chet Baker tribute "Waiting for Chet") and "I Can't Get Started," while the leader performs "Blue and Green" unaccompanied. A fine session that has unfortunately become quite obscure.

Hal Galper - 1977 - Now Near This

Hal Galper 
Now Near This 

01. Now Hear This 8:19
02. Shadow Waltz 6:11
03. Mr. Fixit 5:02
04. First Song In The Day 9:02
05. Bemsha Swing 6:09
06. Red Eye Special 5:32

Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Tony Williams
Piano – Hal Galper
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Terumasa Hino

Recorded February 15, 1977

Hal Galper has had a long, distinguished career as a jazz pianist, bandleader, composer and educator. While the pianist has made a flurry of recordings over the past few years, record labels are beginning to mine the wealth of material he produced during the '=1970s. Now Hear This was first issued by Enja in 1977 and subsequently reissued in its original form, though this edition sports a redesigned cover and a bonus track. Galper's inspired quartet includes trumpeter Terumasa Hino, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Tony Williams. The title track, which was recorded by its composer with a different quintet during the same decade, benefits from the stripped-down quartet and a decent piano (something not available for the live Century LP Speak With a Single Voice (1978)and reissued as the Double Time CD Children of the Night).

"Now Hear This" is one of Galper's most infectious works, as the pianist launches into a furious solo, with Hino's contribution followed by Williams' simmering break. The playful "Red Eye Special" suggests a bit of McCoy Tyner's influence, punctuated by Hino's searing trumpet. Galper builds "First Song of the Day" upon a simple repeated riff, intermingling thunderous chords and lightning runs in his solo, while both Hino's and McBee's features are equally full of fire. This expanded reissue includes a previously unreleased alternate take of it, which is a bit shorter but no less intense than the master. In addition to Galper's five originals, he includes a sauntering, sassy interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing." This is easily one of Galper's best recordings of the 1970's.

Hal Galper - 1976 - Reach Out!

The Hal Galper Quintet
Reach Out!

01. Reach Out 9:17
02. I'll Never Stop Loving You 7:18
03. Spidit 6:00
04. Waiting For Chet 8:12
05. I Can't Get Started 3:15
06. Children Of The Night 13:13

Bass – Wayne Dockery
Drums – Billy Hart
Piano – Hal Galper
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Michael Brecker
Trumpet – Randy Brecker

Hal Galper was on a tear during the 1970s, writing a number of adventurous post-bop compositions and getting regular opportunities to record them. This 1976 studio session for Steeplechase features the pianist with trumpeter Randy Brecker, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, bassist Wayne Dockery, and drummer Billy Hart. The turbulent opener, "Reach Out," must have been incredible to hear in a live setting; this studio version features an intense, constantly searching solo by the leader, as well as impassioned solos by the Brecker Brothers. Michael switches to flute for the brisk "Spidit," which blends post-bop and elements of Latin jazz. Galper, a former sideman for Chet Baker, penned the multi-faceted "Waiting for Chet," possibly to represent the tumultuous life of the troubled trumpeter; in this song, Michael starts on flute but switches to tenor sax. The leader arranged terrific interpretations of two Gershwin standards. Ending the CD is the extended composition "Children of the Night," in which everyone solos, though everyone drops out as Wayne Dockery delivers a stunning performance. This is easily one of Hal Galper's best recordings.

Hal Galper - 1973 - Inner Journey

Hal Galper 
Inner Journey

01. Inner Journey 7:04
02. Invitation To Openness 6:27
03. P.M. In The A.M. 5:04
04. Joy Ride 4:12
05. My Funny Valentine 5:20
06. Taking The Coltrane 4:26
07. Wandering Spirit 4:31

Acoustic Bass – Dave Holland
Drums – Bill Goodwin
Piano – Hal Galper

Hal Galper's third album as a leader, which also was his third and final recording for the Mainstream label, finds him making a bit of a change. It was at this point in his career that he made a clean break from playing electric piano at all, becoming exclusively an acoustic pianist. With bassist Dave Holland and drummer Bill Goodwin (the latter with whom he would be reunited for a few years when he replaced Mike Melillo in Phil Woods' group) Galper delves extensively into a challenging set of originals, beginning with the introspective, driving "Inner Journey." The leader's approach to the standard "My Funny Valentine" is far darker than typical arrangements, with plenty of twists thrown in for good measure. At the end of the disc, on both the album jacket and the record label, the last two songs are not heard in the order shown in print. Galper's cerebral "Wandering Spirit" precedes, not follows, Duke Ellington's "Take the Coltrane" (which is misidentified as "Taking the Coltrane"). The pianist's rapid-fire treatment of Ellington's blues riff takes an adventurous path, with plenty of solo space for Holland and a series of breaks by Galper and Goodwin. With the demise of Mainstream, this LP is getting more difficult to acquire and it remains one of the very best recording from Hal Galper's early days as a leader.

Hal Galper - 1972 - Wild Bird

Hal Galper 
Wild Bird

01. Convocation 7:05
02. Wild Bird 8:03
03. Change Up 5:04
04. This Moment 11:40
05. Whatever 7:14

Bass – Charles LaChappelle, Victor Gaskin
Drums – Bill Goodwin, Billy Hart
Electric Piano – Hal Galper
Guitar – Bob Mann, Jonathan Graham
Soprano Saxophone – Michael Brecker
Tenor Saxophone – Michael Brecker
Trumpet – Randy Brecker

Hal Galper - 1971 - The Guerilla Band

Hal Galper 
The Guerilla Band

01. Call 6:05
02. Figure Eight 7:37
03. Black Night 3:16
04. Welcome To My Dream 4:50
05. Rise And Fall 9:05
06. Point Of View 5:49

Bass – Victor Gaskin
Drums – Charles Alias, Steve Haas
Electric Piano – Hal Galper
Guitar – Bob Mann
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Mike Brecker
Trumpet, Trumpet [Electric Trumpet], Flugelhorn – Randy Brecker

Bebop is nothing new to Hal Galper. Weaned on Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Jackie Byard, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins, he has played with many of the be-bop masters. He spent three years on the road with Chet Baker, three with Cannonball Adderley and ten years with the Phil Woods group. His list of credits also includes playing with Johnny Hodges, Roy Eldridge, Slide Hampton, James Moody, Art Blakey and Lee Konitz as well as with Sam Rivers, Donald Byrd, The Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land Quintet and John Scofield, among others.

Galper's music has always been wide ranging and original. He has played the full scope of his musical heritage from the post-be-bopists to the ultra-modernists. Reviewers have found his music "adventurous, exploratory" (New York Times), " Four Star" (Billboard), "Startling, very exciting indeed" (Record World), and "energy driven and versatile" (Down Beat Magazine).

As a scholarship student at Berklee School of Music in the '50's, Hal first discovered 'the music' while hanging out at Herb Pomeroy's club, The Stables, hearing local Boston musicians like Jackie Byard, Alan Dawson and Sam Rivers. Galper started sitting in and became the house pianist at The Stables and later on, at Connelly's and Lenny's On The Turnpike, Boston clubs of '50'sand '60's vintage.

" For a time, I was a free player. It became obvious that this wasn't in vogue in Boston when my fellow musicians ran off the bandstand holding their ears...so, in 1960, I went to Paris to see what was happening there. I played four gigs in two months and returned to Boston discouraged with music. I didn't play for two years." "

Through the Boston grapevine, Galper learned that Chet Baker was coming to town and looking for a piano player.

Chet on 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 in Boston and hired him... just like that." "

Playing with Chet gave Hal's career some firsts... his first road band jazzgig... his first recordings (The Most Important Jazz Album Of 1964-65 and Baby Breeze).. his first playing experience in top circuit, big city clubs...his first residence in New York City. "I learned a lot from Chet 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 New York alone and went back to New England in 1966."

Hal recalled that his first playing experience with Phil Woods came about this time. " I was with the house band at Lenny's in Boston. Phil was the guest soloist and we played a week together. It was love at first beat!"

In 1967, He realized it was time to go back to New York again and was reunited with Woods for a couple of one-nighters. He played short engagements and one-nighters with Donald Byrd, Stan Getz, Chuck Mangione, Joe Henderson and Al Cohn and Zoot Sims and recorded three albums for Mainstream under his own name, The Guerilla Band, Inner Journey and Wild Bird.

In 1973, rumor had it that Cannonball Adderley was looking for a new keyboard player to replace George Duke. Galper's audition was held on the bandstand at the Jazz Workshop in Boston, Playing one set a night for the weekend of Cannonball's engagement. It turned into a highly spirited three year playing stint, performing and touring fifty out of fifty two weeks of each of those years.. Hal wrote tunes and recorded three Quintet albums, Inside Straight, Love, Sex and The Zodiac, and Pyramid for the Quintet. "I'm still absorbing what I learned from Cannonball's band. I loved the high level of rapport and the energy...but I knew after three years that I didn't need the road. The time had come to develop my own musical identity. "He made the difficult decision to leave the Quintet in 1975.

Another major realization was that he had been avoiding the acoustic piano and the responsibilities of it. "I had to go back," he said, "after all, I was an acoustic pianist." As a symbol of his commitment to himself, he wheeled his Fender Rhodes to a dock on the Hudson and threw it into the river, watching the bubbles rise as it sank.

In the next year and a one half, supported by a NEA grant, plans were carefully laid out. Randy and Michael Brecker were in that plan and Wayne Docker and Billy Hart completed the Hal Galper Quintet. A successful debut at Sweet Basil in New York and two records for Steeplechase (Reach Out) and Century (Speak With A Single Voice) brought the band to the attention of New York audiences, major East Coast club owners and the producers of the 1978 BerlinJazz Festival. "This was a very contemporary band. Everyone played with one hundred percent freedom... but after a while," Galper Says," the direction... the concept became only a part of what I wanted to play." He ended the Quintet in 1978, ready to play a more disciplined, melodic kind of music.

Back on the road again as a sideman, Hal toured with Lee Konitz, Nat Adderley, John Scofield and Slide Hampton. Sitting in for a week at the Village Vanguard with The Phil Woods Quartet in September of 1979 led to the inception of Hal's 10 year stint (1980-1990) as pianist-composer-arranger with this award-winning group. "What a Gig," said Galper. "Ten years recording and touring the world, playing acoustic be-bop... a rare and fortunate experience!".

The 10th. year anniversary also marked the Concord Jazz release of Galper's successful trio album, "Portrait"... "after 35 years of playing, mostly as an accompanist and some-time leader, I realized that many people had not heard me play the way I really can play, especially in the trio setting."

Encouraged by the success of "Portrait", Hal left the Woods group in August 1990 to start touring and recording with his new trio with (Steve Ellington on drums and Jeff Johnson on bass.) Say's Galper, " A choice rhythm section that plays with a big beat and is sophisticated enough to go in any direction. We are really developing our own sound and identity and I'm enjoying playing the piano more than I ever have before.". From 1990-1999, Hal's group was on the road six months a year. They recorded four trio albums for Concord, two quartet albums for ENJA (with special guest Jerry Bergonzi) a trio album (Live at Vartan Jazz), another live trio album "Fugue State," a quintet album "Let's Call This That" for Double Time Records. and a live duo recording with Jeff Johnson called "Maybeck Duets on the Philology label

Galper is internationally known as an educator. His theoretical and practical articles have appeared in six of Down Beat Magazines editions and his scholarly article on the Psychology of Stage fright, originally published in the Jazz Educators Journal, has subsequently been reprinted in four other publications. His new book "The Touring Musician, A Small Business Approach to Booking Your Band on the Road (Billboard Books) is fast becoming the last word on the subject. As a founding member of the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he still teaches, Hal is also on the faculty of Purchase Conservatory. He extensively travels the College lecture-workshop circuit.

I've been on a non-stop '70s Fender Rhodes electric piano LP collecting frenzy so this was definitely a lovely dig during a recent trip to California. One of the defining Rhodes jazz-funk records of the era, keyboardist Hal Galper's debut as a leader can be a tricky Mainstream Records title to track down, especially in minty shape like this WLP [White Label Promotional] copy. Galper's aggressively driving approach here has a powerful, swirling quality that's complex, modal and quite adventurously funky at times. The Guerilla Band is a searching and furious Fender Rhodes keyboard workout akin to the work of The Awakening's Ken Chaney on Black Jazz Records, another master of the instrument, or perhaps a slightly more fast-paced Eddie Russ approach. "Figure Eight" sounds exactly like its title, full of crisscrossing angular swoops of Bob Mann's searing electric guitar and Galper's fuzzy keyboard lines swimming amidst electric bassist Victor Gaskin and drummer Charles Alias's space-funk bottom. Slickster L.A. studio stalwarts the Brecker brothers make early recording appearances here and actually sound nicely textural and 'in the pocket' with little overblown schmaltz compared to their blaring later efforts. Mysterious, mesmerizing music and superior to Galper's other (but still very highly desirable) LPs on the Mainstream label.