Skip Heller

Couch, Los Angeles

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Skip Heller is one of the more eclectic and tasteful musicians in Los Angeles, and this new album certainly is a unique study of his taste and wit. It's primarily a collection of instrumental pieces ranging from works by Monk, Ellington and Zappa alongside some wonderfully skewed originals. Jazz, R&B, pop and blues stand beside each other quite comfortably on this record, which features some great guest performances by D.J. Bonebrake and Katy Moffatt among others. As Heller explains in the liner notes, this record is modeled after mixtapes (compilations) that were made solely for his own enjoyment. It's a nice idea that works wonders. The disc is highlighted by a fantastic arrangement of Mahler's Nun Seh Ich Woll in which Moffatt's soprano twists around guitar, piano and vibes to a mesmerizing effect. It's adventurous and comfortable at the same time, and one of the nicest mood pieces to be recorded in L.A. this year. [The "Couch 2.0" version was released in 2005 and doubles the number of tracks.]

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