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 The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Transcience" CD/LP/Track Review Transcience
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Music of Weather Report" CD/LP/Track Review Music of Weather Report
by John Ephland
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "First Set" CD/LP/Track Review First Set
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "One For Cisco" CD/LP/Track Review One For Cisco
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Stille Post (Radio Works: 2003-2011)" CD/LP/Track Review Stille Post (Radio Works: 2003-2011)
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!