The Magazine Articles Reviews The Bar ATOMIC Girls Gallery Venues Bands Retro Radio Forums Shopping



Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Skip Heller
Jazz From Hell(er)

Jazz From Hell(er) (AIM Recording Co.) is the latest release from musical workaholic and guitarist Skip Heller. At 36, Heller has already compiled a musical resume befitting someone twice his age. As a producer and musician, he has previously worked on projects with exotica great Robert Drasnin, rockabilly icon Ray Campi, Yma Sumac, Dave Alvin, The Blue Dahlia, John Gilmore, and Big Jay McNeely, among others. Heller even had a stint as a score librarian for big band legend Les Baxter.

With his new album, the prolific artist reminds us that jazz is supposed to be entertaining, a feeling he believes Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were trying to accomplish through the 1930s jazz that predated bebop and the less structured styles that followed. To this end, Heller delivers 14 tracks, including eight originals, with a variety of tempos, from the upbeat "Savoy Trifle" to the softer, smoother "Don't Go To Strangers." (Robert Drasin's clarinet and Mike Bolger's trumpet on the former number will make you feel like you're out on the town in 1930s Harlem, whereas the lovely vocals of Polly Geller on the latter will have you swaying in your lover's arms.)

Heller has a tremendous sense of music that enables him to put the most out of place song into a relevant context. He presents a funky jazz rendition of L.L. Cool J's "Goin' Back To Cali," with vocals delivered in a style reminiscent of the '70s punk group The Flying Lizards. Even the Allman Brothers' hit "Whipping Post" is made more interesting by a slower arrangement and Katy Moffatt's bluesy vocals. "Vamos A Baliar" is a hopping live recording featuring Lalo Guerrero, who helped popularize a blend of swing and Chicano music. And the classy, fast-paced jazz number "Echoes of Primitive Philadelphia" highlights Heller's own fine guitarwork, sweetly accented by Mike Rocke on piano.

Heller's recordings at times lean to the classic cartoon arrangements of Raymond Scott (think "Powerhouse" and Bugs Bunny). In fact, you can hear more of Heller's work on The Cartoon Network, in the upcoming Flintstones On The Rocks animated release and the series Dexter's Laboratory. But Jazz From Hell(er) is not wackiness via jazz; rather, it is an expression of entertaining jazz that flows from intriguing to soulful in the tradition of the great bandleaders of yore.

—Smilin' Buddha Joe

Visit the band at


Year 1999 Reviews
Year 2000 Reviews
Year 2001 Reviews
Year 2002 Reviews
Year 2003 Reviews
Dave Berger and The Sultans of Swing—Doin' The Do!
Blue Lunch—Not Live at the Copa
Blues Jumpers—Royal Motel
Johnny Boyd—The Last Word In
Buddy Blue—Pretend It's Okay
BR549—This is BR549
Dennis Caiazza and Swing Factory—
Liz Callaway—The Beat Goes On
Matt Catingub's Big Kahuna and The Copa Cat Pack—Shake Those Hula Hips!
Cocktail Angst—Big Top Parade
Gerard Carelli—Lucky To Be Me
Rebecca Kyler Downs—
Love Me Like Candy
Gas Money—Hopeless Love Affair
The Good Fellas—Salute!
Charlie Gracie—I'm All Right
Wayne Hancock—A-Town Blues
Skip Heller—Jazz From Hell(er)
Jools Holland—The Swing Album
The Jaztronauts—Swank
Jump 4 Joy—Cutest Lil' Boogie
KGB Swing—Proletarian Swing
Laika And The Cosmonauts—
Laika Sex Machine
Linda & The Big King Jive Daddies—
Linda & The Big King Jive Daddies
Jimmy Luxury—My True Love Is...
Maci Miller—A Very Good Night
Swing Nouveau—Shakin' When Stirred
Alex Pangman—They Say...
The Prairie Cats—'Til the Daytime Fades
Lee Press-On & The Nails—Playing Dirty
Dexter Romweber—Chased By Martins
Frank Sinatra—Sinatra Love Songs
The Stingrays surf Band—
Don't Fear the Reverb
Stardust Records Presents—
Vocal and Jazz Ecstacy
Ron Sunshine & Full Swing—Candy
The Swing-O-Matics—
The Swing-O-Matics
The Swingtips—Roswell
Joe Turley—When The Jitterbug Bites
Mitch Woods—Jump For Joy
Yalloppin' Hounds—New Yalloppin' City

Retro Reading Reviews
The Aloha Shirt
Cine Mexicano, California Crazy & Beyond, Poker
Cult Vegas
Dark City Dames
Entering Germany 1944-1949
The House That Jack Built: My Life As a Trailblazer in Broadcasting and Entertainment
Leni Riefenstahl: Five Lives
Making The Wiseguys Weep:
The Jimmy Roselli Story
Truer Than True Romance
My Father's Daughter—Tina Sinatra
Tell It To The Future


1999-2009 ATOMIC Magazine, Inc.
ATOMIC Magazine Inc., 917 Orchid Drive , Lewisville, TX 75067
All site content, including images and text, is copyright 1999-2013 ATOMIC Magazine, Inc. &
This material may not be reproduced, borrowed, or used for any purpose except by written permission of the copyright holder. Terms and Conditions of use.