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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Skip Heller
Career Suicide: The Essential Skip Heller 1994-2001

Highly acclaimed within jazz circles and scarcely known outside of them, Skip Heller is a musical enigma whose compositions and arrangements are not easily pigeonholed. His influences range from Leonard Bernstein to Frank Zappa to L.L. Cool J, and he has recorded with everyone from roots rockers Big Sandy, Ray Campi, Deke Dickerson, Dave Alvin, and Sammy Masters, to boogie woogie pianist Red Young, exotica composer Robert Drasnin, X drummer DJ Bonebrake, Chicano legend Lalo Guererro, and acclaimed singer Katy Moffatt. The huge scope of Heller's musical influences and accomplishments is evidenced on Career Suicide, a seven-year retrospective CD recently released on Dionysus.


Hear Samples of
Career Suicide

Raymond Scott Memorial
Frances Farmer
True Life Blues
I Love You Samantha

Get Real!

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The anthology boasts 22 tracks, a near even split of originals and covers, including ten previously unreleased recordings. On such an eclectic and universally excellent collection, it's hard to pick the standouts. "True Life Blue," a shufflin' country ditty featuring Sammy Masters on vocals, will have you two steppin'across the room, while the heartbreaking "I Love You, Samantha," will leave you weeping in your whiskey on the very next track. Heller's "Laid Bare Theme" perfectly captures the lounge sounds of the '60s, the zany "Couch" mixes bebop and surf, and "Spy Perfume" is mildly reminiscent of Mancini. Be sure to mix a dry martini just before track 10, a cover of Zappa's "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance," and then pull your sweetheart close for "I Am Bewildered," featuring the flawless vocals of Big Sandy.

One could easily write just as much about the second half of this stellar compilation, but I think the point has been made. (Although I would be doing Heller and Moffatt a tremendous injustice if I failed to mention the album's gutsy closer, a true blues rendition of the Allman Brothers' classic, "Whipping Post.") Despite the cheeky name, Career Suicide is hardly a shot in the foot. Rather, it is a phenomenal collection of diverse recordings by a musical genius who will hopefully achieve mainstream success very soon.

—Leslie Rosenberg

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