139

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

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
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 not begin to describe his tremendous musical intellect.

Heller has recently released his most satisfying collection to date. Liberal Dose captures a collection of all-original material live in Huntsville, Alabama with a local rhythm section. This is fantastic because of how well the group gels with what ostensibly ought to be little available practice time. However, that's what jazz has always been about: music professionals at the top of their form coming together and practicing their craft seamlessly.

Liberal Dose contains original compositions and arrangements that all tell a story. "Meydele (Dorem Khosene) was a wedding march commissioned of Heller that "mutated into a Mickey Katz-arranges-Hebraic-melodies -for-Grant Green -and-Big- John-Patton juggernaut that begins plaintively, transforming into a molten funk-fest that concludes with a quotation from Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke. Heller solos amply and allows Chris Spies the same favor, adding tasty comps behind the organist.

Heller continues his Jewish merrymaking with a totally revamped performance of the Funeral March from Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony. The material was originally recorded by Heller in 2001 and released on Homegoing (Innova, 2002). Heller has sharpened his point and driven it through the heart of klezmer cum blues to produce a dizzying cultural collision that works perfectly. What a kick that Alabama audience must have gotten!

Dave Alvin, written for Heller's colleague and mentor, the leader of the Blasters, is a Muscle Shoals delight, full of the soul and want of the best that Aretha, Otis, and Wilson had to offer. "(The Lonesome Death of) Emily Remler pays plaintive tribute to that late jazz artist in a starkly naked way. On the final two cuts, "McMansion on the Hill and "President "Guitar Watson, Heller unleashes all of his creative pathos, delivering highly charged performances with a political edge. Liberal Dose is the best I have heard by the enigmatic Heller so far, but doubtless there will be more. This polymath simply cannot contain himself.


Track Listing: Isn

Personnel: Skip Heller: guitar, political polemics; Chris Spies: organ; David White: drums.

Title: Liberal Dose: Live at the Flying Monkey, Huntsville, AL | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Skyeways


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Malnoia" CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "If You Have a Dream" CD/LP/Track Review If You Have a Dream
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Signs" CD/LP/Track Review Signs
by Doug Collette
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "The Truth" CD/LP/Track Review The Truth
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.