Featuring Dave Alvin of The Blasters on Vocals
New York, NY - There comes a point in every great artist's career when the music comes full circle, and the root of the muse returns to once again deal out inspiration: the people, places, sounds and memories of the past serve to influence splendor. For Skip Heller, Homegoing is just such a moment. And in going back, Heller takes his greatest step forward. His most focused and rewarding album to date, Homegoing signifies Heller's emergence from a revered cult figure on the Los Angeles music scene to a national presence as a composer, bandleader and guitarist in today's jazz world. Released on Innova Recordings, the date features Heller's quartet, including Mike Bolger on organ, Robert Drasnin on clarinet and alto saxophone and Howard Greene on drums. Lee Toft makes a special appearance on trumpet as does former Blasters' guitarist Dave Alvin on vocals.
Streamlining the eccentricities of previous albums, Skip Heller does exactly as Homegoing suggests - returning in heart and spirit to his birthplace Philadelphia where he cut his teeth as an aspiring teenage jazz guitarist in the early to mid '80s. It was South Philly jazz dives like Bob and Barbara's, All That Jazz and Sir Winston's where Heller learned his craft. In those days I was working in jazz clubs three and often five weeks a night. I like party music, and the bars where the organ was the center of the action were a perfect blend of jazz and rhythm 'n' blues. The guitar had a strong role in the sound, too. The audience tended to shout their approval in the middle of your solo if you were getting over."
Homegoing is this year's outside contender for the finest organ jazz record of the year. The date alternately cooks and simmers, and groovy soul jazz workouts abound, but always with Heller's playful, deeply loving touch. Meydele" is a lowdown, funky, slow burn that might give Grant Green pause, yet in prime Heller fashion it's drawn from a Yiddish wedding march. Heller's pal, Dave Alvin, drops in for a perfectly swinging, late night serenade of the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne standard Time After Time."
A striking contrast begins to set Homegoing apart, exemplifying what makes Heller's approach so essential. Where one might expect honking tenors on tunes such as Emily Remer" and The 'Intensive' Girl," a soulful clarinet drives the melody. The music appropriates a warm, down-home elegance, always reverent but completely void of worn clich
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