158

Skip Heller Trio at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Philadelphia

Edward Zucker By

Sign in to view read count
Skip Heller
Ortlieb's Jazzhaus
Philadelphia, PA
May 12, 2006

What do Frank Sinatra, The Dead Milkmen, Nat Adderley, Ani DiFranco, Gustav Mahler, and Shirley Scott have in common? You can find the answer in a night of music with guitarist Skip Heller's organ trio, such as the night that Heller, organist Lucas Brown, and drummer Jim Miller played at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Philadelphia on May 12, 2006.

In his liner notes to his CD Out Of Time (which coincidently was recorded live in Philadelphia), Heller wrote, "I must have three hundred albums that sound pretty much like this disc. But Heller's trio is not your dad's organ trio: Incorporating traditional blues, ballads, romps, and the grits-and-gravy R&B sound associated with the genre, Heller draws from influences across the musical spectrum.

It certainly seems hard (perhaps impossible?) to fit the artists listed above into one sound or approach, and therein lies the difficulty in pinning down Heller's style. By flowing along with the Heller trio from Heller's favorite Frank Sinatra song to a tune dedicated to Ani Difranco, the listener begins to grasp the fertile playground from which Heller draws inspiration.

In the wrong hands, or with the wrong musicians, this night could have turned horribly wrong. It could have seemed kitschy, campy or a parody of sorts. Instead, this performance was not so much a jazz performance as it was a musical collage. Watching and listening to Heller's band was akin to watching a top spin on a table - coming close to the edge but not falling. Heller took the audience on a wild ride with his complex runs and eclectic setlist, yet also kept thing relatively safe with his logical progressions and melodic sense.

With Dean Clean (the drummer from The Dead Milkmen) and legendary Philly drummer Micky Roker in attendance, Heller and his bandmates started off with a tribute to Roker and Scott entitled "Shirley Scott Trio Was The Time, which segued into The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl. The band also played Nat Adderley's "Work Song," (albeit with apologies for playing it in the wrong key), and finished off the night with an equally illogical closer - "Funeral March From Mahler #5, which appears on Heller's album Liberal Dose.


Shop

More Articles

Read Panama Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Live Reviews Foundation of Funk at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
by Geoff Anderson
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The Cookers at Nighttown Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017
Read Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens Live Reviews Monty Alexander Trio at Longwood Gardens
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "The Julian Lage Trio at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews The Julian Lage Trio at SFJAZZ
by David Becker
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams at Kennett Flash" Live Reviews Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams at Kennett Flash
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "Cyrus Chestnut Trio at Duc des Lombards" Live Reviews Cyrus Chestnut Trio at Duc des Lombards
by Patricia Myers
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Brilliant Corners 2016" Live Reviews Brilliant Corners 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 19, 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!