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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Skip Heller: Songs With Memories: Skip Heller and Friends Play Floyd Tillman

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It would be oh so tempting to say the music impresario Skip Heller has found his niche with Songs With Memories: Skip Heller and Friends Play Floyd Tillman but with his next recording, more likely than not, he would prove that statement ludicrous. Heller's 2012 Fakebook II: That's Entertainment (Weatherbird) was a sequel to his 2004 recording of “standards" Fakebook (Hyena Records), the two bookending a number of recordings documenting Heller's curious musical evolution to where we are now. Fakebook II: That's Entertainment was very much a precursor to the present recording and equally different from the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Skip Heller: Fakebook II - That’s Entertainment

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Skip HellerFakebook II: That's EntertainmentWeatherbird Records2012 Fred Steven “Skip" Heller is one of those musicians with a gravity great enough to create his own universe. He is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, bandleader, producer and writer with an all-encompassing musical knowledge, interest and vision that is readily witnessed in his All About Jazz column Hardly Strictly Jazz. He is a stylistic moving target playing guitar- organ trio before moving on to Americana and ultimately to being what Jana Pendragon calls, “America's most confusing country singer." Whatever Heller might be, he is wholly ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Skip Heller

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Meet Skip Heller: Grew up in Philly, enticed by all kinds of improvised music--jazz, bluegrass, blues, rockabilly. Played with Yma Sumac, Phil Alvin, Les Baxter, Wanda Jackson, DJ Bonbrake, Cannibal and the Headhunters, NRBQ, Karen Mantler... get the idea?Instrument(s): Guitar.Teachers and/or influences? Mose Allison, Willie Nelson, Bill Evans, John Hartford, Roger Miller, Bacharach/David, Doug Sahm, Hank Jones, The Beatles, Ahmad Jamal, Johnny Mercer, Merle Haggard, War, Bob Wills, Jethro Burns, Bing Crosby, Nick Lowe, Jack Teagarden, Uri Caine. I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Skip Heller: Foolish Me

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Skip HellerFoolish MeWeatherbird Records2012 Fred “Skip" Heller is a hip musical polymath from Philadelphia, living on the West Coast, where he burns through musical styles like there is no definition. He has a major, and unapologetic, jones for John Hartford and Roger Miller and an encyclopedic knowledge of American music, of which he continues to be a student, teacher, shaman. Mention any name from anywhere in the history of New World music and Heller will have something to say about it. His personal discography reflects this similarly. Musically, Heller ...

BAILEY'S BUNDLES

The State of Skip Heller 2009

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Guitarist Fred “Skip" Heller has spent much of 2004 to 2009 burning through the American soundscape searching for the the heart of these United States. In 2004, Heller released Fakebook (Hyena). Considered the pinnacle of the guitarist's organ trio period, Fakebook sheltered hints of Heller's musical restlessness in his inspired readings of Grant Green's “The Yodel" and Eddie Harris' “Cold Duck Time."

Already back to basics, Heller was to distill his vision of American music further with Mean Things Happening In This Land (Ropeadope, 2006) and, before that, Along The Anchorline (Ropeadope, 2004).

Evolving completely out of organ-trio orbit, Heller ...

BAILEY'S BUNDLES

Skip Heller's Long March To The Heart Of America

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Philadelphia favorite son and Los Angeles uber-musician Fred “Skip Heller has been busy since my sighting of him last October at the Arkansas CD & Record Exchange. He was then touring to promote Mean Things Are Happening In This Land, currently available as a digital download at Ropeadope Records. After the Arkansas junket, Heller and his working trio were heading for Memphis, Tennessee. Not just Memphis, Tennessee, but 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, home of Sun Studio--those fabled four walls that at one time rang with the voices of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. The ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five With Skip Heller

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Meet Skip: Born and bred in Philly, played bar mitzvahs, weddings, top 40, country and whatever else. Came up in the wake of giants like Uri Caine, Bootsie Barnes, Shirley Scott, and others. Very traditional on some levels, but a full-on cultural expeditionary on any number of levels.Instrument: electric guitar.Teachers and/or influences? Grant Green, Heath Allen, Satchmo, Johnny Hodges, Cannonball, Marc Ribot, Link Wray, Johnny “Guitar" Watson, Dave Alvin, Eddie Lang.I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I saw John Hartford on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.Your sound and approach ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Skip Heller: Mean Things Happening In This Land

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Skip Heller seems like a pretty fun-loving guy. But this new release, from its opening cover of XTC's anti-prayer “Dear God through its concluding folk song about the closing of a Georgia mill, presents his own scathing commentary on current social, economic and political landscapes. Working with David White on drums and percussion and Chris Spies on organ, clavinet, electric piano and a “Radio Shack synth we found in his trailer, Heller sounds particularly enraged about the government's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

His trio uses happy sounds to make this angry point. “President Nero? dances ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Skip Heller Trio: Mean Things Happening In This Land

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It's increasingly difficult to tell when someone is being ironic or sincere. Skip Heller, more than a little manic and an unquestionably gifted guitarist, might not be able to tell us himself where the sincerity ends and the irony begins on this record.

Start with the music. It's an energetic guitar/organ trio date, driven by the ingenious and heavily rock-inflected drumming of David White. The musical cues are not unexpected for an organ trio, especially a definite late-'60s soul jazz feel. The playing and the production are highly polished. Heller plays a lot of the time with a clear, clean ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Skip Heller Trio: Mean Things Happening In This Land

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Like a man possessed, Skip Heller continues his prolific creative flow. His latest trio reconvenes the band which appeared on his last release, Liberal Dose: Chris Spies (organ) and David White (drums, percussion). In addition to the originals, Heller plucks four extremely unlikely covers with wonderful results. While his encyclopedic knowledge of music has provided some inspired song choices from older material, here he culls three eighties classics, two flat-out punk rock.

X's “Motel Room In My Bed goes from a hectic hydroplaning car ride to being genuinely road-weary, and in the process Heller's revelatory arrangement finds unexpectedly sweet blossoms ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Skip Heller Trio at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Philadelphia

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Skip Heller Ortlieb's Jazzhaus Philadelphia, PA May 12, 2006

What do Frank Sinatra, The Dead Milkmen, Nat Adderley, Ani DiFranco, Gustav Mahler, and Shirley Scott have in common? You can find the answer in a night of music with guitarist Skip Heller's organ trio, such as the night that Heller, organist Lucas Brown, and drummer Jim Miller played at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Philadelphia on May 12, 2006.

In his liner notes to his CD Out Of Time (which coincidently was recorded live in Philadelphia), Heller wrote, “I must have three hundred albums that ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Glamour Profession: The Ongoing Skip Heller

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Glamour Profession: The Ongoing Skip Heller Skip Heller 74 pages; DVD included SkipHeller.com 2006

Skip Heller, a gifted guitarist and one of the more intriguing figures flying under the radar of the American music scene he loves so well, has been up to many things. Writing music for cartoons has been among them. Writing different kinds of music, with different musical influences and aggregations has been another. Touring around playing with organ trios--largely influenced from his hometown of Philadelphia--is another.

And last year it was a book. Yes, he only ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Skip Heller: Liberal Dose

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One imagines Skip Heller with an enormous rolodex of nothing but undersung organists. It seems like each new Heller release introduces a different organist from a different region, bringing new flavors and delights to the guitarist's evolving organ trio format. On Liberal Dose, Heller teams with players--Alabaman Chris Spies behind the Hammond and David White on drums--whose immersion in Gulf State/New Orleans culture gives them the kind of living jukebox range that matches his own transcendently encyclopedic musical vocabulary.

Recorded live in Huntsville, Alabama, the program brings together Heller compositions from his many previous recordings, mixed with a few relatively ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Skip Heller: Liberal Dose: Live at the Flying Monkey, Huntsville, AL

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A polymath is a person of great and varied learning. The German writer Goethe was a polymath; his IQ has been estimated at 210, which would have been the highest ever recorded.

Fred Steven “Skip Heller is also a polymath. Musically omnivorous and pan-culturally aware, Skip Heller speaks with equal authority and enthusiasm on subjects as disparate as all of American music, baseball, women's professional basketball, culture, politics, poetics... just whatever catches his fancy and convinces him to immerse himself. To simply say that Heller is an interesting fellow is to horribly minimize his importance. Those words do ...



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