179

Rick Helzer: Face in the Mirror

By

Sign in to view read count
Rick Helzer: Face in the Mirror When the South Bay-based trio Big World broke up in the early '90s, many local jazz fans were disappointed, feeling that, even after two good albums, the band's potential hadn't really been reached. Yet now, in 2005, it would appear that all three musicians are playing some of the best music of their lives. Tenor saxophonist Bill Plake is back burning with noted trombonist/composer Mike Vlatkovich, while percussionist Jeanette Kangas has spent the last couple of years in various creative collaborations with her MINIMmates: Steuart Liebig, Jeff Gauthier, and Ellen Burr. Now pianist Rick Helzer has returned with back-to-back releases on Nine Winds: a set of duets with Vinny Golia and this more mainstreamish effort.

In many ways this could be considered a textbook case on how to put together a good jazz record in 2005. Write a fistful of varied tunes, dedicating several of them to jazz giants of the past. Check. Connect up with a rhythm section capable of bringing out the rhythmic and dynamic nuances of the material. Check. Add a well-chosen list of guest artists who inject their own ideas and colors into the mix. Check.

Now here's where it starts to get interesting. Having each guest play on two tunes works well here, as each is able to contribute additional depth and versatility. However, the most important "rule" to watch is "when you invite a world-class musician to the table, make sure he has plenty to chew on," which is followed to a T-bone. "The Mentor" is a tasty enough appetizer for James Newton to warm up with, but the nearly twelve minute-long "Mingus Meditations" is indeed the album's tour de force. Helzer acknowledges debt to "Meditations on Integration," "Sue's Changes," and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," and Newton's performance is truly inspired.

Not that it's the album's only highlight—hearing Kim Richmond's soprano soar through the changes of "Two Witnesses" is another major delight—but given that Newton himself hasn't exactly been dropping a steady stream of CDs on the market, some of his fans may need to check out this album for "Mingus Meditations" alone.

Track Listing: Fire Storms; The Mentor; Tell Your Story; Nobody's Song But Kenny's; Bell Chimes In; Two Witnesses; By His Wounds We Are Healed; He Who Is Acquainted With Sorrow; Sounds Like; Mingus Meditations; Gethsemane.

Personnel: Rick Helzer: piano; Chris Conner: bass; Duncan Moore: drums; Kim Richmond: alto, tenor saxophone; James Newton, Lori Bell: flute; Joseph Howell: clarinet; David Borgo: tenor, soprano saxophone; Derek Cannon: flugelhorn.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Nine Winds Records | Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Reunion
by John Sharpe
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "East West Time Line" CD/LP/Track Review East West Time Line
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Transient" CD/LP/Track Review Transient
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Budd Kopman
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Love Song" CD/LP/Track Review Love Song
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Guilty Saints" CD/LP/Track Review Guilty Saints
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 18, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!