THE SKIP HELLER NEWSLETTER
Summer / Fall 1999
"all the news that's fit to print out"
THE JOHN GILMORE PROJECT:
Coming soon fromAMOK.
The John Gilmore/Skip Heller disc, which has yet to be titled, is now being mixed.
Gilmore reads from his two books, SEVERED (the definitive account of the famed and
formerly unsolved Black Dahlia homicide) and LAID BARE (kind of a first-person Hollywood
Babylon, only more telling).
SH chose the chapters for Gilmore to read, and wrote musical backdrops for 'em, drawing
largely on the crimejazz tradition, but not only. As usual with SH, you can hear such
contemporary influences as Frank Zappa and Carla Bley in the pieces.
The personnel is typically diverse. The core group is The Skip Heller
Jay Work: tenor saxophone
Dan Brownfield: bass
Howard Greene: drums, percusssion
with a few
outside hands: exotica legend Robert Drasnin (flute, clarinet), honking sax god Big Jay
McNeely, rockabilly great Ray Campi (crooning "Moonlight Becomes You" ala Bing Crosby),
and magician Teller (theramin).In some ways, it is an extension of the short pieces SH
made with Ken Nordine, which appear as the hidden track of LONELY TOWN.
BIG JAY MCNEELY: CENTRAL AVENUE CONFIDENTIAL
Yep, the new
SH-produced-and-arranged project has been mixed. This is Big Jay's bravest
outing to date, with SH on guitar, Howard Greene on drums, and Red Young on organ (plus a little horn section -- Jay Work on reeds, Skip Waring on trumpet).
The material is diverse -- hard bop, jump, crimejazz (the "I Want To Live" theme!),
rhythm'n'blues, near-avant-garde, and blue ballads (including a brand new SH
composition, "Emiko"). Big Jay's ability to bluesify anything will shock you, and the
session has a warm, cozy feel all around. Red Young is absolutely kicking that Hammond
B-3, too. This disc will serve as a summation of Big Jay's career, past, present, and
COUCH, LOS ANGELES.
For the lucky few of you who saw the Skip Heller Generation live, you know that the band
was at its best when performing instrumental music, and some of the stuff you heard 'em
do will be featured on this disc -- "Couch, Los Angeles", Wayne Shorter's "Iris", Frank
Zappa's "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" (as a bossa nova), Les Baxter's
"Sophisticated Savage", and a few other sordid bits of exoticana.
A few more recent Heller compositions are included -- "The Secret Irwin Chusid
Tapes", "Palm Springs", "Bad Motel Room", "I Smell Trouble" and "I am not ashamed..."
among them. Also, arrangements of the twenty-fifth GOLDBERG VARIATION (Bach), and the
second song from Gustav Mahler's KINDERTOTENLIEDER ("When your dear mother comes in at
The exotica community has long been screaming at SH to do this.
Now they will be sorry.
RELEASED: April, 1999
Appearing on COUCH, LOS ANGELES:
SH: guitar, organ, conductor
Jay Work: saxophones, flute
Robert Drasnin: flute, clarinet
DJ Bonebrake: vibes, marimba
Dan Brownfield: electric bass
Hank Van Sickle: upright bass
Howard Greene: drums, percussion
The book on jump, rockabilly, swing etc from V/Search (formerly
RE/Search) features a short interview with SH, plus he writes about his favorite
jump/swing records. There is also a nice picture of SH production victim Dee Lannon
standing next to Sam Butera, and (an uncredited) Red Young playing with with Big Bald
Voodoo Caddy. Also featured in this book -- Art Fein, Big Sandy, and a bunch of people
we don't know.
VARIOUS AND SUNDRY:
Yes, there is truth to the rumor about Sherry Slocum's plans to make
a half-hour documentary about SH, but nothing has been nailed down yet. There are film
clips etc floating around that can be used, but nothing is firm as yet, except that SH
would like it to be titled THIRTY TWO SHORT FILMS ABOUT SKIP HELLER. It is likely that
the soundtrack will be downloadable from the TRG website but not released in any
commercial format anytime soon.
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Last updated: 8/12/99