RICK GALLAGHER

 
 

CD Reviews

Jazziz

Gallagher's music speaks for itself. Sweet Potato Eyebrows features a program rich in originals.... most notably the folksy "Adyn Rebekah" and the funky "People of the World" merit repeated listening. Indeed writing seems to be Gallagher's strong suit. His arrangements of standards like "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and "I Got It Bad" are both clever and engaging, and his throughly reharmonized version of "Amazing Grace" -- nearly unrecognizable at first blush -- is a marvel. Gallagher also enjoys good taste in bandmates and the good fortune to know several strong Pittsburgh players. Trumpeter Delano "Volcano" Choy and saxophonist Eric Defade lend considerable fire to the proceedings, and bassist Paul Thompson (who formerly played with Maynard Ferguson and Stanley Turrentine) nearly steals the show with his loping basslines and full-bodied sound.

All About Jazz.com

...his sense of style and chops are smooth, vibrant, and delivered with much class and maturity...His influences range from the likes of Herbie Hancock to Bill Evans, but the musical style and arrangements possess his own signature... The music speaks for itself with a freshness and vibe that is elegant, contemplative, and holds a deep sense of swing...This is jazz that is thoroughly enjoyable and will definitely add a little spice and flavor to those who appreciate good music.

Pittsburgh Magazine

...an easygoing, organic collection of songs...Gallagher's fluid style is wonderfully melodic throughout and a joy to ingest. Backed by some of the region's best jazz cats with expert engineering by Dino DiStefano, this is an outstanding recording. It's music like this that could bring back people to clubs and away from their DVDs. BUY IT.

CdBaby

Last year's favorite Christmas album at CD Baby is this year's "must have." If you're in the market for a Christmas album at all, don't waste one more minute looking any further than the Rick Gallagher jazz trio. This is Christmas music at its classiest, at its most sophisticated and in its least cliche, least commercial form. This has been the one album I haven't grown tired of and recommend without a second thought; and that's saying a lot after having already listened to hundreds in the last few months, preparing our stock for the upcoming holiday season. This album is both perfect for the elegant holiday party or the family pajama party.

All Music Guide

Like it or not folks -- and what's not to like -- that Season is upon us with all its attendant musical fantasies, sugarplum fairies, and the other appropriate traditional items and trappings of the holy season. So the market will be loaded with releases of jazz, variety pop, classical and Latin, Holiday, modern Latin, calypso and bossa nova mixed in well so the result is a true bouillabaisse a Christmas nog. The thing they have in common is that very little of it will be original material. Rather, it will complie earlier releases designed to create a nostalgic glow for the listener. Gallagher's group mixes it up a bit with a play list peppered by traditional stuff, religious and tunes, and church going material which started out as pop hits and which have now been moving toward the traditional category with the passage of time. Gallagher's quartet recorded this disc in the studio, following up their latest album, "Sweet Potato Eyebrows". As with his earlier material and with the change in music style, Gallagher continues to prove he his is a hardhitting piano player with plenty of go get them rhythm and lyricism. Whether it be playing a block chord version of "O Holy Night", or one of his originals or the National Public Radio traditional verses, "Sing We Now of Christmas", the joy, pathos, exuberance which is generally propagated by a much larger group comes through. Paul Thompson's bass makes some very high level, listenable, ear catching bass noises on this cut. This is a Class A CD released by some very first classy performers and is totally recommended.

Jazz Review.com

Collections of sacred music in jazz format are certainly nothing new. New Orleans bands have done it for decades. In recent years I've reviewed Steal Away by Hank Jones & Charlie Haden and When Saints Go Marching by pianist Bradley Sowash. They were both fine albums! If you liked the previously mentioned music as much as I did, you absolutely must listen to Rick Gallagher on his new disk Peace Be Still. Influenced by Vince Guaraldi, Red Garland, Bill Evans and George Shearing, Rick Gallagher is a pianist to be watched. While I shouldn't refer to a collection of hymns and spirituals as a hell of a record, there is no better way to describe it. Peace Be Still grabs you by the ears and won't let go. The CD has been played many times since it arrived five days ago. Rick Gallagher's powerful attack is reminiscent of the great Don Shirley, the classically trained spiritual specialist of the 1950s. Gallagher tackles a number of traditional hymns of varying age but throws in jazz pieces by Duke Ellington and Horace Silver. Every note rolling off Gallagher's fingers is as pure as jazz can be. Here is an emotional player with a background in classic jazz. He frequently plays with Pittsburgh's Boilermaker Jazz Band. That particular group can play in a New Orleans revival style and has a knockout version of Burgundy Street Blues. Rick's new CD is "anything but" New Orleans revival and is as fresh as tomorrow's breakfast. There isn't a mediocre track on the disk. It's a gem to be savored! Sound samples are available at the artist's website.

All About Jazz.com

Jazz musicians often struggle with the notion of attracting a wide audience without having to sacrifice their creative vision. Pittsburgh pianist Rick Gallagher seems to have figured out a way to produce original jazz with an accessible appeal that maintains artistic integrity. Sugar Shack, Gallagher's fifth solo release, is an inventive, swinging piano trio collection featuring bassist Paul Thompson and drummer Thomas Wendt. Percussionist George Jones joins in on a couple of tracks.

Gallagher is a confident pianist with the perfect blend of technique and finesse. With a mature approach to soloing, he develops his ideas with persistent clarity, emphasizing feeling over flash.

Gallagher's compositions traverse a variety of stylistic samplings. Through ballads, Latin grooves and swingers, the focus is on strong melodic content. The Oscar Peterson-influenced "One Juicy Apple" and the cascading ballad "Everything About Her" stand out as exceptional.

Cover versions of Lennon and McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" and 1980s pop anthem "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," by Tears for Fears, are creatively restructured, blending in nicely to the disc's overall flow.

Gallagher's trio mates display adept professionalism, adapting effortlessly to the disc's stylistic twists and turns. With ample solo space, Thompson demonstrates a lyrical, buoyant bass style, most notably on the lush ballad "Cade's Lullaby." Wendt is a rock-solid drummer who knows how to listen effectively. His crisp cymbal work on "Prayer," a lively waltz, is at once supportive and enticing. Jones adds a funky dose of percussion to "When Morning Comes," a soulful bossa-nova, and "Thick & Skinny," a greasy boogaloo.

As multi-layered as the music on Sugar Shack is, each piece exhibits a common thread of collaborative spirit, void of pretense. Gallagher and company are quite content at performing high quality jazz that is fundamentally joyous and swinging.

Jazz Week

Most musicians only get one opportunity to make a Christmas album, but Gallagher has followed his excellent 2002 A Sleigh, a Song, and a Baby Boy with a terrific new piano trio (plus percussion) collection. As with the first, Gallagher's arrangements succeed by keeping the tune familiar without sacrificing the jazz. Traditional and contemporary tunes are joined by his original uptempo waltz title track. Also check out "Silver Bells," a Latin-tinged "First Noel," Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime," and a bluesy "Joy To The World."

Davis Enterprise

Pianist Rick Gallagher's brand-spanking-new Snowriding (Ridgetone Music 6244) arrived at literally the last second, and I'm sure glad it did. I didnt get to shout 'Stop the presses,' but playing this CD the required minimum of three times 'while still making my deadline' was a bit of a scramble.

 Worth it, though. I covered Gallagher's first seasonal release, A Sleigh, a Song and a Baby Boy, in 2003, and rated it one of the year's keepers.

 This one's even better.

 With ample support from his sidemen - Paul Thompson (bass), Thomas Wendt (drums) and George Jones (percussion) - Gallagher delivers a set of truly tasty jazz: solid solos, well-rehearsed give-and-take between musicians, and inventive arrangements that never stray too far from the melody.

 The song selection is good, as well; "Here We Come A-Wassailing" (cute delivery on that one) and "Caroling, Caroling" don't pop up that often on holiday jazz albums, and this disc also features the first jazz cover I've ever heard of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."It's a clever presentation, highlighted by the just-enough use of background jingle bells.

The handling of "Joy to the World" is equally inventive; the carol emerges as a medium-tempo strut of the sort that would bring the congregation to its feet. "Carol of the Bells" and "Silver Bells" are lively finger-snappers, the latter featuring a lovely bass solo by Thompson.Gallagher includes an original composition, "Snowriding," which boasts Vince Guaraldi-style piano hooks and occasionally echoes that composer's "Skating." Gallagher's work is equally catchy; if this is any example, he should write more stuff.

The album concludes with Gallagher's haunting, solo piano version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear": the perfect way to conclude a sublime collection of music.