Rubato is a difficult to define term, but it can be described as taking liberty in the tempo to obtain a certain feeling or mood. It is more common in classical solo pieces, but pianist Hal Galper, along with Jeff Johnson and John Bishop explore this abstract musical concept in a jazz trio setting on Furious Rubato.
As the title suggests, the trio uses rubato throughout the album. While playing, each member of the band can change the tempo at any given time. As Galper explains in the liner notes the main rule for playing in this unique style is just "let the melody be your guide".
Galper, Johnson, and Bishop pull off the rubato brilliantly most of the time. They use it in a way that propels the music forward. They are able to play off each other and stay in sync with one another. A superb showing of the group’s ability is on "Naima". They are able to accelerate the tempo during the pinnacle of the piece which makes it sound more dramatic and meaningful. But at times, such as on the opening track "Milestones," the technique can make an uneasy overall sound.
Galper takes most of the melodies. He plays dense, rich chords and exceptional melodies. Jeff Johnson interplays with Galper, playing licks on the bass. Bishop does not take the traditional drummer’s role of laying down a groove. Instead, he creates another layer of sound with rhythmic figures and effects.
Hal Galper, Jeff Johnson, and John Bishop play innovative music using an interesting approach on Furious Rubato.