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Hal Galper

Lecturer Emeritus in Music

In his fifth decade as a major jazz artist, Hal Galper continues the innovation that has made him one of today’s most surprising and satisfying pianists. Galper’s 21st-century series of trio albums, with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop on Origin Records, incorporates his development of “Rubato” playing as a means of melding melodic lyricism with the rhythmic excitement and “sound of surprise” of the bebop tradition, deepening the jazz experience for musicians and listeners alike.

A student of the piano from the age of six, Galper entered the Berklee School of Music on scholarship in 1955 and studied technique with the famous Madam Chaloff. He quickly gravitated to the city’s jazz clubs, supplementing his formal Berklee training by studying the performances of such Boston stalwarts as Jaki Byard, Sam Rivers, and Herb Pomeroy. It wasn’t long before Galper had soaked up enough practical jazz knowledge that he was employed as house pianist at the Stables, Lennie’s On The Turnpike, and Connelly’s, leading Boston jazz emporiums.

Beginning his international performing career in a three-year stint with trumpeter Chet Baker, he went on to be an integral member of the bands of Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods. He also worked with Sam Rivers, Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz, and John Scofield, among dozens of other major jazz figures. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Galper formed one of his most critically acclaimed groups as a leader in the early ’70s with trumpeter Randy Brecker, his saxophonist brother Michael, bassist Wayne Dockery, and drummer Billy Hart. The new Hal Galper Quintet debuted at Sweet Basil in New York’s Greenwich Village, eventually recording four albums, including Reach Out, Speak with a Single Voice, Children of the Night, and Redux 78.

Galper’s discography includes 103 albums, with 32 of them under his name. He is a leader not only as a performer but also as an educator, with emphasis on theory, performance, and the worldly side of music as a profession. He was a founding member of New York’s New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and retired after 14 years on the faculty of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College.

Galper’s best-selling theory of Forward Motion was the first interactive E-book in which its more than 300 musical examples could be played in a computer browser. It offers insights into the workings of melodies, secrets of phrasing, and ways of practicing to enhance jazz performance.