The Troy Street Observer

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.

Photo of Hal Galper in about 1980
Hal Galper in about 1980

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.

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Dec 17, 1962: World, Meet Tony Williams

Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean opened at Connolly’s on December 17 for a week-long engagement, and as was the custom at Connolly’s then, McLean worked as featured soloist with a local rhythm section. Jim Connolly hired a good one: pianist Ray Santisi, bassist John Neves, and drummer Tony Williams.

Photo of Tony WilliamsSantisi and Neves were obvious choices. They’d already been playing together for nine years, starting as the Jazz Workshop Quartet at the Stable and with all subsequent bands that called that venue home. With Jimmy Zitano, they formed the rhythm section that drove the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra.

Both had been branching out as well. Santisi toured earlier in 1962 with Buddy DeFranco, and Neves spent time in 1961 with Maynard Ferguson, and later worked with the small groups of Stan Getz and Gary Burton. Santisi was in his fifth year teaching at Berklee.

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