183

Skip Heller: Liberal Dose

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Skip Heller: Liberal Dose 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 new ones, drawn from a head-spinning mix of influences including classical, folk, Jewish wedding music, blues, jazz and country, seamlessly reconciled within the musical democracy that is Skip Heller.

With a title echoing the Weavers, "Isn't This a Time introduces Spies' plush tone and playful fingers. White wisely keeps it light and steady, and Heller plays his bright conversational stroll. The Middle Eastern harmonic minors of "Meyedele break open for Heller's funk blues lead, which cuts through the rich cloud of organ tones. Spies pulls the stop for "Soulful, supported by Heller's curt, incisive chording. The tune ends with a note-perfect quote of Stevie Wonder's elaborate fanfare from "Sir Duke.

Swinging like a motor scooter, "Funeral March from the Mahler #5 settles down for a dark moment before Spies blows it back open. Heller plays it sweet and twisty. Named for the King of California, "Dave Alvin emphasizes Heller's clean, countrified tone in a sweet mid-tempo homage. With an unusual theme that reaches heavenward, "(The Lonesome Death of) Emily Remler provides a tough framework for improvisation that's gracefully scaled by Spies and Heller.

A beauty which originally appeared on Bear Flag, "Letter Home to My Wife, finds the guitarist digging in with a harder tone and a lot to say, after an emotional reading by Spies. Heller states "McMansion On the Hill with a slick multi-voiced lead, and Spies slips the leash to rave a bit, even quoting Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl. Naturally, "President 'Guitar' Watson ends the recording blue and burning.

Liberal Dose is the first release on Heller's Skyeways label, whose distribution scheme mirrors that of the ancient Folkways indie label, with the graphics also mimicking the older imprint. Like Folkways, Heller's art springs from an inclusive approach to people, as well as music.


Track Listing: Isnt This a Time?; Meyedele (Dorem Khosene Megamix); Funeral March From the Mahler #5; Dave Alvin; (The Lonesome Death of) Emily Remler: Glamour Profession; Letter Home to My Wife; McMansion on the Hill; President Guitar Watson.

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

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Skyeways | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "ReNew" CD/LP/Track Review ReNew
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 11, 2016
Read "Ida Y Vuelta" CD/LP/Track Review Ida Y Vuelta
by James Nadal
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "A Good Time Was Had By All" CD/LP/Track Review A Good Time Was Had By All
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Janus" CD/LP/Track Review Janus
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 1, 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!