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Moving Forward

V & B Records GAL-B-0003 [53:07]




  1. Serendipidy

  2. Big Sur

  3. Gratitude

  4. Cycle

  5. Moving Forward

  6. Rain Waltz

  7. No Apparent Reason

  8. Cesar

    Brent Gallaher - Tenor sax

    Alex Pope Norris - Trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 1, 2, 4-8)

    Dan Karlsberg - Piano

    Aaron Jacobs - Bass

    Anthony Lee - Drums

    Brent Gallaher's father was a professor of music and Brent himself is involved in jazz music education at tertiary level. Now 48, he can play any of tenor, soprano or alto sax, plus flute and clarinet. In addition, he is an accomplished composer (three of his works can be found on this disc). Cincinnati-based for many years, he has had experience of performing with big bands as well as smaller groups but here opts for the latter in what is his fourth album as a leader for this label. He has, inevitably, been influenced by some of the great saxophonists, such as Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane. He has assembled a group with extensive live performance credentials and, for the most part, like the leader, a background of teaching jazz. A further name needs to be added, however, that of the versatile Kim Pensyl who not only contributes three compositions to the disc but was responsible for the recording, mixing and mastering of the music.

    Two of the three standout tracks come from Pensyl's hand. Big Sur, that scenic highlight of the California coastline, is evoked in an attractive melody and given a rhythmic treatment by the band, with strong solos from Norris and Gallaher and effective interaction between the rhythm section members. Karlsberg makes a distinctive contribution, too. Gratitude , a further piece by Pensyl has a lovely, late night, feel about it. A wistful yet smoochy saxophone sound is complemented by Karlsberg's exploration of the theme, somewhat subdued but very much 'on the money'. I liked the title piece, Moving Forward. The spirit of East Coast jazz permeated this one. There's a bustling tenor, a confident and stylish trumpet solo and Karlsberg bringing power and penetration to the work.

    Alex Pope Norris plays flugelhorn as well as trumpet on the album. For examples of the former, listen to the easy-on-the-ear Cycle or No Apparent Reason, although the second of these, while the longest track on the album, falls short of the best. Far better to savour Norris on the gently swinging Fred Hersch composition, Rain Waltz. Serendipidy, the opening track and a Gallaher original, has a fluency which engages, enhanced by the intuitive collaboration of the group members. Karlsberg has a classical as well as jazz background so it's interesting that his tune, Cesar refers to Cesar Franck, the nineteenth century composer and organist. The pianist and the group as a whole come across well on a fitting finale for the album. He comments that it is 'putting Romanticism into the jazz context'.

    Gallaher and his band, on this evidence, not only know how to swing in a post-bop style but they also handle ballad material well. I enjoyed this latest CD and I'm sure that I won't be alone in that!

    James Poore


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