Throughout the course of the development of the jazz art form, many devotees have chosen to express themselves about jazz through the medium of “criticism”. Others have chosen to lecture in an academic setting. The bulk of these people are not actually performing musicians, having chosen a different direction in which to express themselves.
In both American and European colleges, jazz educators tend to focus on a combination of role teaching, ensemble playing, and cohesiveness within a musical unit for the purpose of winning competitions. Practical experience as a performing improviser and soloist is almost nil. And, many young musicians are never placed in a position to work with professional jazz players or to work on their soloist chops. This is part of the reason why I structure my own jazz workshop to create that sort of an environment, using working musicians rather than academics to convey information from the most basic to the most advanced.
Once in awhile, that rare guy comes along who can do both - make the music and communicate about it as well. Some years ago at my workshop I had the pleasure of hearing a pianist play superbly and then stand up and completely dissect himself and what he had just created. This man had obviously spent years both playing and thinking deeply about what he plays, and here he was on stage actually talking about it in a way that other musicians and students could understand! His name, of course, was Hal Galper.
Not only can Hal enlighten and entertain with his words about this abstract art form, he can play the hell out of the piano, which is why you are listening to this cd. I first met Hal in 1980 when we both accidentally ended up playing with Chet Baker at Fat Tuesday’s in New York City. (That session was later released on a Fresh Sounds Cd #FSRCD131.) Hal first visited Port Townsend with the Phil Woods Quintet, later returning with his own trio and as a member of the faculty at the workshop. He has been a frequent visitor ever since, both lecturing and performing. This is the location where this CD was recorded.
The festival that year started on Friday afternoon with student performances, and continued Friday night with faculty concerts and artists featured in various clubs around town. On Saturday afternoon, the first of three presentations in the Hangar, officially known as McCurdy Pavilion, took place. The first group to perform was a bit more “fusion” oriented than our mainstream audience was prepared for. Thus the stage was perfectly set for the Hal Galper Trio to come out on stage and do that thing - SWING! Did the audience like it! Take a listen to the applause on the CD. It was a perfect start to a great weekend.
Put your ears to this recording and enjoy a marvelously talented trio in a warm and natural setting with a responsive audience -the Hal Galper Trio at Port Townsend Jazz Festival.
Bud Shank - September 1995
On behalf of Hal, Steve, and myself, allow me to say that it is with great pride that we bring you this music. It is the product of a unique and increasingly rare process; a steady band staying on the road, taking the music to the people, and using the countless bandstands as our laboratory. Hal deserves great credit for having the vision and fortitude, not to mention the wisdom, for understanding this process from the grass roots and using his vast experience to be our friend, confidant, collaborator, and teacher.
For my part, the roughly two and one half years with this great trio proved to be a period of great musical and personal growth for me personally. The three of us developed a great love for one another during that time and I feel that those emotional bonds that we forged over time are evident in the recorded music contained herein.
If this music makes you pat your foot and smile, our mission will have been realized.
Todd Coolman - September 1995