Organism: The Jazz Organ Renaissance
Friday Night Special departs form Ms. Siegel's earlier recordings in that her band is pared down to the bare essentialsin this case, an organ quartet. Upon hearing that, one might be tempted to think that this is going to be a beer drinking, cigarette smoking, greasy affair... but it is anything but. Friday Night Special is a sexy sophisticated date with Ms. Siegel joining Joey DeFrancesco, Houston Person, Peter Bernstein, Russell Malone, and Buddy Williams.
Produced by music maven Joel Dorn, Friday Night Special is bluesy at its base. Janis Siegel purloins Bill Wither's "The Same Love That Made Me Laugh, Made Me Cry" and makes it her own. Houston Person adds a most tasty tenor obbligato to the piece, riding over the swinging landscape produced by DeFrancesco and company. She dovetails Billy Myles' "My Love Is" into Willie Dixon's "My Babe," with an allusion to "Fever" to boot.
Eddy Arnold's "You don't Know Me" gets the finest non-country attention since Ray Charles recorded it on New Sounds in Country and Western Music. The tenor-organ mix heats up these selections like a fever. The combination feels infectiously swinging and smart. Ms. Siegel has an intelligently sexy delivery, seasoned, piquant and full-bodied. Friday Night Special is on the shortlist for jazz vocal recordings in 2003.
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Track Listing: The Same Love That Made Me Laugh, Made Me Cry; My, How Time Goes By; I Just Dropped By To Say Hello; My Love Is/My Babe; Let Me Be Me; Ill Wind; You Don't Know Me; There's A Small Hotel; Make Me A Present Of You; Misty.
Personnel: Janis SiegelVocals; Joey DeFrancescoHammond B3; Houston PersonSaxophones; Peter Bernstein, Russell MaloneGuitar; Buddy WilliamsDrums.
Skip Heller with Dose
The Battle in Seattle 3.13.03
Skip Heller is the West Coast Uri Caine with a much more wicked sense of humor. That comparison should be flattering to both parties, as they were friends growing up on the fertile jazz streets of Philadelphia. Both men like to apply jazz, or simply music, if you will, in the most unlikely places. Mr. Heller's most recent sightings have involved a retrospective ( Career Suicide ) and a new recording ( Homegoing ). Ever searching, Mr. Heller finds himself traveling on The Battle in Seattle from his Hollywood home to Seattle Washington to... Hook up with an amazing rhythm section that plays together all the time, have about ninety minutes of rehearsal, and hit the world's smallest stage...[playing] a bunch of tunes you like but never played...
Hook up with an amazing rhythm section that plays together all the time, have about ninety minutes of rehearsal, and hit the world's smallest stage...[playing] a bunch of tunes you like but never played...
That is the Wild West spirit. One mark of a good musician is to be able to show up and perform the old standard in any key. Heller takes this thinking one step further by throwing in the added thrill of performing a set of songs singularly by the seat of his pants. It is very much to Mr. Heller's credit and an illustration of his considerable talent that everything comes off so well. Instead of supporting songs off of his most recent recording, Heller elects to devote his attention to songs associated with Prince, Miles Davis, Dean Martin, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson Five. He does contribute one composition, a blues called "Emiko." The Battle in Seattle
The Battle in Seattledocuments what Mr. Heller contends is the way his guitar playing really sounds. If this is so, he has much to be proud of. The music is as fresh as a spring strawberry bursting on the roof of your mouth, bristling with ideas, some clever, some genius. Prince's "Sometimes It Snows In April" is transformed into an organ-guitar jazz ballad, equal parts surf guitar, Joe Pass, and Danny Gatton. "Freddie The Freeloader" is taken at a fast clip and incorporates Heller's worldview effectively by passing through a dozen or so guitar styles before ending.
His band, Dose, serves as a great supporting cast: crack rhythm-meisters. Joe Doria's organ playing, understated and refined, allows him to effectively displays his chops without showing off. John Wicks, the next "Funky Drummer," lends an infectious beat to Stevie Wonder's "Fun Day."
The disc highlight is Heller's cover of "Never Can Say Goodbye." He transforms this Motown classic into a rapturous anthem of rock, blues, soul, R&B, country, and, of course, funk. Mr. Heller's guitar playing is very urbane and classy and only in a few places..."completely unhinged like a bastard child of Cecil Taylor and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson." But, then again, that is the gravy.
Visit Skip Heller on the web.
Track Listing: Sometimes It Snows In April; Freddie The Freeloader; Arriverderci, Roma; Fun Day; Emiko; Never Can Say Goodbye.
Personnel: Skip HellerGuitar; Joe DoriaOrgan; John WicksDrums.
Ken Clark Organ Trio