All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

197

Skip Heller: Out of Time & Bear Flag

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Skip Heller continues his organ trio odyssey with two new releases, each featuring a different rhythm section and very different programs. Out of Time recorded live at Tritone in Heller's original home of Philadelphia features organist Lucas Brown and drummer John F. Kennedy. The program consists of a collection of old chestnuts chosen to evoke a period of Philly jazz in effect while an underage Heller snuck into clubs. Even with the Californiana of the title, Bear Flag includes several compositions hearkening back to Heller's Philly roots. This trio boasts Joe Bagg on organ and Ryan Doyle on drum. Besides showcasing Heller's compositions, the trio covers Ellington's "Angelica."

Skip Heller
Out of Time
Dreambox Media
2005

Out of Time sets the Wayback for 1956 to open with "Canadian Sunset." Heller's unadorned Stratocaster has a country sound and lopes good naturedly through the changes. Brown oozes and eases until his solo turn, then he kneads the melody with the organ keys letting variations rise through his fingers. The peppy "Lost Weekend" finds Heller fast and fluent, with Brown rolling in hard. Neal Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'" receives a loving rendition floating in on Kennedy's brushed cymbals. Heller's relaxed expertise unwinds into Brown's more emotionally charged interlude. Appropriately breezy, Bacharach's "Wives and Lovers" provides the hub for a whirl-a-gig spin by Brown, while Heller sends vining variations over the swinging frame, ending with a flourish recalling the bubbling of champagne.

Back to "56 for the ballad, "It's Not For Me to Say," with Heller staying close to the melody and Brown taking liberties. Heller then returns with a collection of deviations, leading into the torch ballad, "All the Way." Taken slow and evocative, Heller goes soulful, speaking in pauses with Brown masterfully coloring the edges. His humid blue moan sobs on a streetlight corner. Not to send the patrons home sad, the bus stops at the "Mambo Inn." The 1952 standard receives a buoyant reading with Heller flashing his genre jumping chops.

Skip Heller
Bear Flag
Dreambox Media
2005

Working his own tunes with a different band, Heller's Bear Flag better demonstrates his omnivoric aesthetic. The first track pays tribute to the Bakersfield country sound, the last sends a love letter to Shirley Scott. With Ryan Doyle's road seam beat setting the pace, "Highway 99" cruises with the windows down. Heller tells a lot of what he knows about American Music, while Baggs follows Heller's lead by keeping his solo lean, crisp, and roadworthy. Written the night of June Carter's death, "Til Things Get Brighter" cuts a slice of mid tempo soul jazz ballad. Heller gently branches through his mid range. Heller remembers his love of Rahsaan with the humorous "Weatherbirds of Prey," only to wax romantic on "Philadelphia." The latter written with erased links to the past in mind, gives Baggs a bluesy touch and Heller pacing reflection.

Inspired by Monk, "Plaid Hat, Red Wagon" swings along straight ahead, only subtly Monkish. "Train Rhythm Blue" features fine filigree guitar lines silkily lace throughout its somber melody. Ellington's "Angelica" struts straight up until Heller digs in for a rigorous run. Baggs brightly splashes Doyle's rigid rhythm. The slippery starry sky of "Letter Home to My Wife," gives Heller's stellar reverb running space. "The Shirley Scott Trio WAS the Time," sends a jumping bouquet home to an old muse. Heller makes it sound easy, and Baggs orchestrates his blues.

Heller's organ trios reflect the leader's deep connection to American musical currents, and his ease juxtaposing seemingly clashing ideas to produce inviting hybrids.

Out of Time

Track Listing: Craig's intro/Canadian Sunset; Lost Weekend; Li'l Darlin'; Wives & Lovers; It's Not for Me to Say; All the Way; Mambo Inn

Personnel: Skip Heller: guitar; Lucas Brown: organ; John F. Kennedy: drums.

Bear Flag

Track Listing: Highway 99; Til Things Are Brighter; Weatherbirds of Prey; Philadelphia; Plaid Hat, Red Wagon; Train Rhythm Blues; Angelica; Letter Home to My Wife; Shirley Scott Trio WAS the Time.

Personnel: Skip Heller; guitar; Ryan Doyle: drums; Joe Bagg: organ.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Jazzing Up Childhood Memories Multiple Reviews
Jazzing Up Childhood Memories
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 4, 2018
Read The Art of the Quintet: Voro Garcia and Magnus Thuelund Multiple Reviews
The Art of the Quintet: Voro Garcia and Magnus Thuelund
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: April 2, 2018
Read The Eclectic Sounds of ears&eyes Multiple Reviews
The Eclectic Sounds of ears&eyes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 27, 2018
Read Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic Multiple Reviews
Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic
by Doug Collette
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Minimalist Guitar: Clouds and Dreams Multiple Reviews
Minimalist Guitar: Clouds and Dreams
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 23, 2018
Read A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama Multiple Reviews
A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Queen Esther: Sings Jazz & Black Americana" Multiple Reviews Queen Esther: Sings Jazz & Black Americana
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "The Art (de Vivre) of the Trio" Multiple Reviews The Art (de Vivre) of the Trio
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August Rosenbaum" Multiple Reviews The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Holiday Roundup 2017" Multiple Reviews Holiday Roundup 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things Happen Slowly & Open Book" Multiple Reviews Of Stories, Songs, and Self: Fred Hersch's Good Things...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017