Bill Heller, Passage Review
Keyboardist Bill Heller is most recognized for his association with GRAMMY-nominated jazz group the Rippingtons. Ever busy as a producer, he has produced recordings for jazz guitarists Steve Briody and Matt Marshak and sax player Vincent Ioia. In 2000, Heller co-wrote and produced Strong Woman, an album dedicated to his wife Dawn, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and unfortunately, in 2021, she was diagnosed with early-stage DCIS breast cancer. As an artist, in 2014, Heller composed and produced his first solo release, Find the Way. In addition, Bill has served as the Musical Director for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame awards shows for over ten years, providing arrangements and incidental music.
Released in the summer of 2021, Passage features twelve original tunes produced by Heller. Joined by Jonathan Butler, Steve Jordan, Will Lee, Marc Antoine, Ken Navarro, Jeff Kashiwa, Brandon Fields, Andy Snitzer, Allen Hinds, Paula Atherton, Dave Karasony, Brian Dunne, Joel Rosenblatt, Frank Bellucci, Rico Belled, Dave Anderson, Mike Hall and more the album is a star-studded aural delight. The opener “Passage” highlights the movement of time as Heller creates a thematic build that features John Arrucci on steel pan and percussion, giving the track a worldly flavor. The listener is raptured into a thrilling adventure of sounds with dramatic passages and a commanding sonic. “March Forth” offers a summer sound of cool flowing grooves and a melodic melody that courses throughout the tune. Similarly, “Journey’s End” offers a joyous soundtrack that whisks the listener with Brandon Fields alto saxophone solo, joined by the nimble textures of Ken Navarro on guitar. “Last Train,” while it isn’t the last stop on the album, sets up nicely a moving track that primes with an infectious groove and a cavalcade of textural delights. The last stop is “Last Orbit,” a fitting ending to an album that traverses much ground. Embedded with actual NASA’s launch control snippets, Heller laces the track with well-placed odysseys. Guitarist Allen Hinds shreds his signature sound throughout, elevating the building swells of keyboardist Heller, which I might add throughout the entire album is on fire! Passage is a tour de force, and Heller is in prime form. That’s the short of it!
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March Forth (feat. Jonathan Butler, Steve Jordan & Will Lee)
Trying to Get Back Home (feat. Jeff Kashiwa)
Viaggio (feat. Marc Antoine & Brandon Fields)
Journeys End (feat. Ken Navarro & Brandon Fields)
The Flow (feat. Jeff Kashiwa)
Clair de Lune
Last Train (feat. Andy Snitzer)
Leaving Orbit (feat. Allen Hinds)
August 27, 2021