Skip Heller

Onstage at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis can rattle off celestial Dizzy Gillespie solos like he’s brushing his teeth, but “A Night in Tunisia” just sounds better on a pool-hall jukebox. That’s because flashy suits and Ken Burns films, though musically and historically true, just aren’t hip. It was the DIY nature of indie and punk — the modern equivalent of the gutbucket factor — that ousted jazz as the energizing music of youth (and created a breed of Mingus-worshipping snobs as a byproduct). Though he probably doesn’t intend to take anything back for the jazzers, Philadelphia guitarist Skip Heller is at least here to help everyone cool out together on the underground tip. Heller’s recent small-label work has been in the quietly complex realm of the organ trio — his own compositions swing hard and hip, and he knows how to work the classic bop and funk charts. Catch this rare act at the seldom-used Jack-O-Lantern Ballroom (Westport Road and Main). It’s a must-see for anyone who longs for the days when music didn’t have to be loud to make folks clap and shout.

Categories: Music