Homegoing – Skip Heller Quartet
I could tell this would be a good disc once I finished reading Skip Heller's
liner notes and made it through the head of the opening cut. Guitarist
Heller delivers Philly-rooted organ combo jazz with authenticity, but with
enough twists to keep it from being a retread.
Despite the disc being billed as a quartet effort, Heller fronts an organ
trio on several cuts, with Mike Bolger's footpedalling filling in the low
frequencies, and with horns joining in periodically. Heller can ride
changes and craft engaging melodies both on paper and in the moment. Bolger
mostly opts for texture rather than flash, and drummer Howard Greene offers
an eager, ahead-of-the-beat push rather than fanciness.
Heller makes it clear that fanciness isn't the goal,, but still slips a few
curves here and there. An arrangement of the funeral march from Mahler's
Fifth slides in between the blues and AABA forms, and the loungy voice on
two standards belongs to none other than ex-Blaster Dave Alvin. With a
composition from NRBQ's Terry Adams closing the program, Heller establishes
his roots in rock while offering genuine jazz.
In a just world, a musician at this level of accomplishment would be widely