Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic ’77 (Origin Records, 2021)

May 2, 2021 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic ’77

Alright, so here’s a previously unreleased live set performed by a bunch of artists I should probably be more familiar with. This concert was recorded after Galper had just finished a tour with Cannonball Adderley, and he’s joined by Randy and Mike Brecker, Wayne Dockery, and Bob Moses. All six songs are around 10-25 minutes each, and all five musicians simply go off. Opener “Now Hear This” is just nonstop energy for 14 minutes. “Speak with a Single Voice” (the title track to the LP released by the quintet in 1979) is almost twice as long, and while there’s a few moments that seem like pauses for solos, there’s no loss in energy, it’s just configured a bit differently. Galper’s piano playing sounds particularly rabid and multi-limbed here, not to mention Moses’ drumming or Dockery’s intricate bass wrangling. The rendition of “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” isn’t full band, only sax and piano, but both Galper and Mike Brecker push hard into the outer limits, far beyond the gentle love song it seems like at the beginning. And “This Is the Thing” is the most madcap of them all, too much energy for words. The only drawback is the album’s fluctuating audio quality. It clearly sounds pieced together from different sources, and both “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” and “Hey Fool” are particularly patchy, shifting from full-bodied sound to worn-out cassette bootleg (or tinny, watery mp3) without warning. The music itself is stellar, however, and for most of the album, it’s easy to overlook the less-than-ideal fidelity.

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