Guitarist, Composer & Improvisor
Reviews & Press
Concerto No. 5, October/November 2005
Jazz AUSTRIA ROLAND HEINZ QUARTET
The Innsbruck guitarist Roland Heinz has been known to connoisseurs for many years as a commissioned composer, but above all as a musician in the broad field of free improvisation. In particular, his collaboration with double bass player Barre Phillips and pianist Russ Lossing brought unanimous praise from critics. In New York, his fellow players included the late Attila Zoller, but also John Abercrombie, who admired his playing skills. With his most recent live CD, Roland Heinz has opened up to a somewhat broader audience. With his top-class rhythm duo of Scott Lee (b) and Jeff Hirshfield (dr) and Loren Stillman (as), much praised by none other than Joe Lavano, he proves well Extensive improvisational skills, but on the other hand he makes use of a song structure that is easier to understand even for non-specialists, without watering down the quality of his music. The brilliant interaction of the musicians ensures permanent arcs of suspense, as a soloist the quartet acts up to date. Especially leader Roland Heinz shows with his thoughtful, sometimes almost shy-looking, but always just as powerful as soulful phrasing – also on the very selectively used guitar synthesizer – what an extraordinary guitarist is still waiting for a broad discovery with him.
„- the spring sun hits me and there’s no doubt: I’m by no means redeemed,“ says the subtitle of the present CD by Innsbruck-born Roland Heinz, whose quartet is the first to make people sit up and take notice. The opening title „Betty’s Saloon“ offers a pleasant quarter of an hour, in which the guitarist Roland Heinz is also responsible as composer, and saxophonist Loren Stillman places his lyrics somewhere between Garbarek and Pepper, floating through Betty’s salon with incredibly vital lightness. Track 2 – “Twisted Monkey” – a composition by bassist Scott Lee (who has already played with Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Freddie Hubbard, and many more) – is initially all about the guitarist who is imaginative, and, as the booklet notes, “ with the sparkling rhythm of the stars“. A pleasure, indeed, that loses its grip on reality without failing. A total of six tracks can be heard with a total duration of 65 minutes. Special mention should be made of the mystical traditional „Yagaprya“, which probably comes from Hinduism, and which deals with redemption and dissolution, with the rhythm of life – the odd one – goes. With this live performance, the excellently tuned quartet delivers a challenging, energetic form of free play in rich song structures. Improvisation is half the life and jazz is only good if this element can be felt. Just like on this album.
Roland Heinz Present Tales
Circus 575154 (extra plate)
Roland Heinz is so far only known to insiders, although he has worked with musicians such as Barre Phillips and Leszek Zadlo, albeit in the „free jazz scene“. With „Present Tales“, his contemporary variant of modern jazz, released by the new Innsbruck label Circus, Heinz will also make a name for himself in the more mainstream field. Clearly structured melodies alternate with improvised parts, have inner peace and power, but can very well break out in various directions. Heinz, who at times sounds like Metheny or his great role model John Abercrombie, can give his jazz a lot of exciting moments, moments that the rest of the quartet, Loren Stillman, s, Scott Lee, b, and Jeff Hirshfield, dr, develop in an equally sensitive way become. „Present Tales“ definitely has what it takes to pass as a new ECM production. A convincing start for the circus label in terms of both content and cover design.
(bak) jazz time/56
… produce a tense density whose thrill is hard to resist …
Roland Heinz, Heavy Mental
This quartet recording fits snugly into the ECM oeuvre of the ’70’s and ’80’s. Both Elgart and Phillips have recorded for the venerable German label and their work here is no less vibrant. „Heavy Mental“ was recorded in Austria and the album graphics are nowhere near the signature iconic starkness of Eicher’s label. But listen to the music… there’s plenty of space, lots of time taken to reach the destination, and countless opportunities for the quartet to collaborate in a meaningful and organic way.
If you like the more abstract offerings from ECM you will devour this work.
Before It’s News“
First and foremost, Roland Heinz’s strengths are his ability to grasp connections and structures intuitively and at lightning speed, and his excellent phrasing skills. Lightning-fast runs do not degenerate into mere high-speed demonstrations for him – an increase in speed is always accompanied by an increase in intensity. He is able to transport substance and vary states of tension at will …
… Heinz knows how to fit in, to limit himself. He resists the temptation to flood the events with technological muscle flexing, rather he works economically with selected sounds and constantly gives the fellow musicians (Barre Phillips, Leszek Zadlo, Bill Elgart) new stimuli, impulses…
Jazz thetics (Arne Schumacher)
… where not only technology, but also empathy, inventiveness and border crossing musicality are the trumps. An outstanding example in this context is Roland Heinz’s duet with drummer Billy Elgart…
… who worked in the USA with John Abercromie and Attila Zoller, stays very much in the background on stage, but his class is unmistakable …
Will get played plenty by me !
H3 is one of the best CDs releases !
Serenade to a Cuckoo WPRB 103.3 FM,
The unexpected, when you are not quite sure what you are getting, is a nice treat when it all turns out well. I felt that way as I got into the album H3 (Composers Concordance COMCON 0012). It’s a prog-fuse-electric avant outing by Roland Heinz (electric and acoustic guitar), Adam Holzman (keys, synth) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). Heinz put together five compositions for the album; another four are collective improvisations by the three.
All of it is a kind of „thinking man’s fusion“ in that what is played can be driving but it also is quite well-thought out. Heinz is a guitarist that has something to say, the chops to say it with, and his own approach to line weaving.
Holzman and Hirshfield have good places to go on this set as well, and they go there. Both are excellent partners for Heinz in their far-from-cliche ideas and executions. It’s a very rewarding set!
Grego Applegate Edwards
h3 is Roland Heinz, Adam Holzman and Jeff Hirshfield. Guitarist and composer Roland Heinz was born in Sydney, Australia, but he has been living, touring, writing and recording avant-garde and jazz music in Europe for years.
On „Heinz, Holzman & Hirshfield“, he teams up with Adam Holzman, keyboard player in the Miles Davis band from 1985 until 1989, and with Jeff Hirshfield who has played the drums with the likes of Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern, and many, many more.
„Heinz, Holzman & Hirshfield“ is an impressive, instrumental, modern jazz album. There’s a lot of variety on this disc: jazz-rock, fusion, soundscapes and free improvisations.
This is great.
A real treat for the modern jazz fan.
Peter Van Laarhoven
Though recorded in a new york studio, the music of Mr. Heinz, Holzman and Hirshfield doesn`t sound constructed a second, but much more like a three-way dialogue of top-class musician friends who retired after nice hang at a bar in a formidably equipped music room to have their conversations about God and the world as well as relaxed yet focused with musical means continue. In some very spacey moments it reminds me of the Weather Report formations of the first hour – not imposed, but powerful and inspired. A favorite track has not crystallized for me. From piece to piece i remained curious and awaited the things that would come up there still for me, until i had to take the note of the end of the CD after title 9 and a good 60 minutes of exiting music with big regret.
Freelance Jazz Journalist, Austria
CD Repertoire News A-Z
… the guitarist Roland Heinz presented his CD “ Places ”, which he recorded with Russ Lossing (p), Scott Lee (b) and Jeff Hirshfield (dr) in New York. The top US musicians are the congenial companions who enable Heinz to uncompromisingly display his musical qualities: with contemporary jazz of chamber music density and interactive sensitivity…
Roland Heinz , Heavy Mental
This quartet recording fits snugly into the ECM oeuvre of the ’70′s and ’80′s. Both Elgart and Phillips have recorded for the venerable German label and their work here is no less vibrant. “Heavy Mental” was recorded in Austria and the album graphics are nowhere near the signature iconic starkness of Eicher’s label. But listen to the music… there’s plenty of space, lots of time taken to reach the destination, and countless opportunities for the quartet to collaborate in a meaningful and organic way.
If you like the more abstract offerings from ECM you will devour this work.