Hal Galper Live at the Stable, 1962
Pianist Hal Galper was a busy guy in Boston in 1962. Much of that activity centered around the Stable, the cellar club on Huntington Avenue, where Galper practiced his craft almost every night. Tuesdays and Thursdays, he played with Herb Pomeroy’s big band, while on weekends he worked with Varty Haroutunian’s small groups. On Mondays, he was a regular in trombonist Gene DiStasio’s Quintet, and their music is the subject of today’s post.
In April 1962, everyone knew the Stable had a date with the wrecking ball. The Commonwealth was razing the building to make way for a turnpike on-ramp. The musicians played on, though, and one Monday night, an unknown person captured DiStasio’s Quintet on tape. That recording ended up with Ray Santisi, and is now the fourth installment in my Santisi tapes project. It was Hal Galper, by the way, who replaced Santisi in the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra in 1959.
After transferring the music from the original 1/4-inch tape to a digital format, I sent a copy to Galper, knowing full well that musicians often take a dim view of being asked to listen to the way they played “back then.” But he was game, and in January 2017 we talked by phone about the music and his time in Boston.
“I left Berklee in 1958, because the schoolwork was getting in the way of my practicing. And I needed that time. I was studying with Madame Chaloff, and practicing six hours a day, six days a week. Up to that point, I’d been playing a lot but my chops were getting slower and slower, and my hands were getting stiff, and basically she saved me technically—really helped me get my chops together. I studied with her for about three years.”
“By 1962, the year of this recording, my chops sounded pretty good. So it must have been working! In fact, I was listening to my solo on “The Blues,” and at one point I start playing what appear to be double-time lines, for two or three choruses. I’m still playing that!”
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