168

The Skip Heller Quartet: Homegoing

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
The Skip Heller Quartet: Homegoing

Wow!



Skip Heller is a bit hard to describe. And, that is what is so splendid about him and his art. He is a West Coast Uri Caine who plays the guitar and has a bent sense of humor. On Homegoing, Heller returns to his native Philadelphia, a repatriated expatriate. After several well-received recordings, both as leader and sideman, on the left coast, Heller produces the most original and fun guitar-organ jazz recording this year.

Homegoing is bursting with an original jazz sense of humor, as evidenced on the opening "From the Night Before," which sounds like the sound track to 1970s exploitation television. Lee Toft and Robert Drasnin add wonderful horns to the arrangement that is so perfectly retro that it sounds brand new. Dave Alvin, vocalist for the Blasters, is on hand for the vocals on the Sammie Cahn/Jule Styne standard "Time After Time" which sounds as if performed by the band at a Jewish wedding. The interplay between Heller and organist Mike Bolger is telepathic. Heller's eponymous hommage to Emily Remler is light and airy and very much in the tradition of this prominent late jazz guitarist.

Comparisons with Uri Caine are not without basis. Heller and Caine are friends, both hailing form the city of brotherly love. Caine had already covered the Mahler territory on his Mahler recordings for Winter & Winter but Heller had a different idea. On "The Funeral March from Malher's Symphony Number 5," Heller takes some nakedly Hebraic classical music and spins it into a brilliant rolling Jimmy Smith vamp. Drasnin's alto playing is otherworldly over Bolger's light organ march. Alvin returns for the vocals on Marion Walter Jacob's "I Just Keep Lovin' Her." Heller's guitar is jumping.



Skip Heller need not be a best-kept secret any longer. His talent and scope are enormous, drawing from a dozen traditions at once in a beautifully schizophrenic synthesis of sound. Homegoing coupled with the recently released Career Suicide: The Skip Heller Anthology 1994-2001 (Dionysus, 2002) are great introductions to this noted talent.



Visit Skip Heller on the web.


Track Listing: From the Night Before; Maydele; Time After Time; Nika's Dowry; Emily Remler; Funeral March from Mahler, Symphony #5; The 'Intensive' Girl; I Just Keep Lovin' Her; Thinking Of You.

Personnel: Skip Heller: guitar; Robert Drasnin: clarinet, alto saxophone; Mike Bolger: organ; Howard Greene: drums; Lee Toft: trumpet (1,6); Dave Alvin: vocals (3,9).

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Innova Recordings


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Signature" CD/LP/Track Review Signature
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "For King & Country" CD/LP/Track Review For King & Country
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "Abeng" CD/LP/Track Review Abeng
by Dave Wayne
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "The LA EP" CD/LP/Track Review The LA EP
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Sanctuary" CD/LP/Track Review Sanctuary
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 22, 2016
Read "Guilty Saints" CD/LP/Track Review Guilty Saints
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!