Helen Gillet, Running of the Bells (Independent)

Helen Gillet, Running of the Bells

It’s hard to define what kind of music cellist Helen Gillet plays on this record. There is a contemporary classical vibe to this as well as a jazz sensibility and an avant-garde edge. However one chooses to define it, it is great music. Gillet plays her cello and uses effects and loops to add to the sound and play against her own musical ideas. At times, the music is deliberate and heavy, as is the case on “Gypsum,” where she establishes a plucked line before soloing over it, but there are also moments of light with beautiful melodies, as on the opening track “Waking Milo.”

Gillet’s fellow musicians on this, Tim Green on saxophones and Doug Garrison on drums/percussion, have the skills and inspiration to not only follow wherever Gillet goes but also to enhance it immensely. Green shows how he is the best saxophone player in the Crescent City as he uses his saxophone to extend Gillet’s playing on “Waking Milo,” or does his best Julius Hemphill on the funky, gutbucket grooves of “Red” and “Cheller.” Garrison shows his versatility with his varying accents on “Gulmarg” and atmospheric percussion of the final cut, “Hillcrest Python,” which sounds like Ravel’s Bolero taken to the Amazon on a high and low drone.

There is very little that sounds like Running of the Bells in New Orleans, but it is a gorgeous record, and when I play it on my radio program, people call in to compliment it.

Buy Helen Gillet’s Running of the Bells on iTunes