Skip Heller seems like a pretty fun-loving guy. But this new release, from its opening cover of XTC's anti-prayer "Dear God through its concluding folk song about the closing of a Georgia mill, presents his own scathing commentary on current social, economic and political landscapes. Working with David White on drums and percussion and Chris Spies on organ, clavinet, electric piano and a "Radio Shack synth we found in his trailer, Heller sounds particularly enraged about the government's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
His trio uses happy sounds to make this angry point. "President Nero? dances calypso on a sunlit Caribbean beach; Heller swings out soft chords to counterpoint Spies' bright solo, then blasts off with extended, inquisitive lines, apparently in search of Pat Martino's holy guitar grail. "Heckuvajob sounds similarly carefree; Heller's quicksilver leads step aside for a witty conversation between keyboards and percussion. "Katrina, Mon Amour opens in the retro surf guitar sound of Dick Dale before blasting off through a space age guitar sound into a futuristic lounge full of comfy, fluffed-up keyboard pillows.
"Dear God shows off the variety of sounds that three musicians can coax from what might be considered a simple instrumental palette; Spies' mid-song and closing organ solos honor Booker T & The MG's "Hang 'em High. Heller's ode to Ani DiFranco in soul-blues form, "The Kind of Beauty That Moves, grooves on a shimmering guitar riff that somehow sounds both hot and cool, a bright beacon of cool blue guitar light.
Pissed though he may be, this set is not completely without Heller's trademark twisted merriment. Dig his explanation for this cover version of a Dead Milkmen song: "'Punk Rock Girl' is just one of my favorite songs about Philadelphia. I've always been a huge Dead Milkmen fan, and this song has such a great melody that I thought it would work great if we did it in the Richard 'Groove' Holmes' 'Misty' style, because that's one of the ultimate Philly templates. I know I'm a music geek, but I find it impossible to not love a guy who thinks and works like this!
Dear God; Katrina, Mon Amour; Heckuvajob; Motel Room in My Bed; Beautiful Bright Blue
Skye Eyes; Hideout In the Sun; President Nero?; The Kind of Beauty that Moves; Punk Rock
Girl; Aragon Mill.
Skip Heller: guitar; Chris Spies: organ, clavinet, electric piano, Radio Shack synth; David
White: drums, percussion.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.