In 1991, the Roland Heinz Quartet released their Heavy Mental album, featuring Barre Phillips on bass, Bill Egart on drums, Leszek Żadło on soprano sax, tenor sax, and flute, and Heinz on guitar and guitar synthesizer.
The album consists of three compositions: “On the Innside,” “Interactions,” and the title piece. Each piece, composed on the spot, is credited to all four members of the quartet: Barre Phillips, Bill Elgart, Leszek Żadło, and Roland Heinz.
Cut 21 November 1989 at the ORF Landesstudio Tirol in Innsbruck, the album was produced by Roland Heinz and Henner Kröper. The Austrian Radio recording was done without overdubs, in a single take. According to the booklet accompanying the CD, “Heavy Mental stands for the dance between genius and madness…”
Roland Heinz recently agreed to answer a few questions about making the album.
Blue Note: What to you remember about creating Heavy Mental?
Roland Heinz: It was a great experience playing with Billy, Leszek, and Barre. We did the recording after a few concerts together.
BN: Was this one of your first albums?
RH: Yes. I was very excited to do my first CD with world class musicians like them. I was very lucky to get the chance to do the project.
BN: How did the quartet members get along, especially relative to your modest experience compared to theirs?
RH: Those guys were very supportive… I was kind of the baby in the band. It was very challenging, of course. It was great we were able to play together over a few years.
BN: When is the last time you saw Bill Elgart?
RH: I heard Billy three years ago in a band with Allan Preskin, doing an Ornette Coleman tribute. He was brilliant.
A video for the Roland Heinz Quartet’s title cut from their 1991 album, featuring Bill Egart on drums, Barre Phillips on bass, Leszek Żadło on sax and flute, and Heinz on guitar, is on YouTube:
At this time, it seems neither “On the Innside” nor “Interactions” are available online. Yet to be issued digitally, the CD can still be found at select music retailers as well as directly from the website of Roland Heinz.
Born in Sidney, Australia in 1956, Roland Heinz taught himself to play guitar as a teenager and soon was playing his first gigs in local jazz bands. In 1981, Heinz moved to Vienna, Austria where he formed the Modern Art Trio, a group that toured Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. In 1986, Roland Heinz had an opportunity to play with Pony Poindexter in Munich. After recording Heavy Mental, Heinz moved to New York to study with John Abercrombie and Attila Zoller at the Vermont Jazz Center.
Roland Heinz has performed and recorded with musicians such as John Betch, Franz Hackl, Jeff Hirshfield, Adam Holzman, Scott Lee, Russ Lossing, Radu Malfatti, Joe Nay, Alain Praskin, Gunter Schneider, Loren Stillman, and Dave Taylor.
Among recent albums by Roland Heinz are Places in 2003, with Russ Lossing on piano, Scott Lee on bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums, Present Tales in 2005, with Loren Stillman on saxophone plus Lee and Hirshfield, and H3 in 2012. The latter features Heinz, Hirshfield, and Adam Holzman, released on Composers Concordance Records.
A video of a live performance by keyboardist-synthesizer player Adam Holzman, drummer Angela Berann, and guitarist Roland Heinz on 10 July 2013 is here:
Born in San Francisco in 1934, Barre Phillips studied with S. Charles Siani, the assistant principal bassist of the San Francisco Symphony in 1959 before moving to the East Coast in the early 1960s. Phillips quickly established himself on the New York jazz scene. In 1964, he appeared with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. During this period, he made recordings with jazz heavyweights such as Marion Brown, Chick Corea, Eric Dolphy, Jimmy Giuffre, Lee Konitz, Peter Nero, Archie Shepp, and Attila Zoller.
In 1967, Barre Phillips moved from America to Europe, where one year later he released what is generally regarded as the first solo bass LP (Journal Violone in the U.S., Unaccompanied Barre in the U.K., and Basse Barre in France, the country he has made home base since the early 1970s). In 1971, Barre Phillips and Dave Holland recorded Music from Two Basses, what is most likely the first LP of improvised double bass duets. Together with drummer Stu Martin and saxophonist John Surman, Phillips founded The Trio in the 1970s.
Barre Phillips has recorded more than 140 albums as leader or sideman, working with musicians like Derek Bailey, Paul Bley, Peter Brötzmann, Theo Jörgensmann, Joëlle Léandre, Albert Mangelsdorff, Evan Parker, Werner Pirchner, Terje Rypdal, and Kenny Wheeler. This includes soundtracks for Merry-Go-Round in 1981, Naked Lunch, with Ornette Coleman, in 1991, and Alles was baumelt, bringt Glück! in 2013. In 2014, Barre Phillips founded the European Improvisation Center located in southern France.
In 1979, Barre Phillips released Journal Violone II, a follow-up to his heralded 1968 solo album, this time joined by John Surman on soprano and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, and synthesizer, and Aina Kemanis on voice:
Born in Kraków, Poland in 1945, Leszek Żadło emigrated to Vienna in 1966 where he founded the International Quartet. Żadło was a member of the ORF Big Band and the Vienna Art Orchestra and played with Urszula Dudziak, Art Farmer, Dexter Gordon, Friedrich Gulda, Joe Lovano, Werner Pirchner, and George Russel, among others.
Since 1972, he has led the Leszek Żadło Ensemble, a group that over the years has included Paulo Cardoso, Bob Degen, and Johannes Faber, in addition to Bill Elgart. Żadło also played with Ali Haurand’s European Jazz Quintet before founding the Polski Jazz Ensemble in 1983, with Vladislav Sendecki, Bronislaw Suchanek, and Janusz Stefański. In 1986, Leszek Żadło began teaching at the University of Music Würzburg. A composer of theater, TV, and film music, Żadło’s extensive discography includes releases each decade from the 1970s through the 2010s.
In 2015, Leszek Żadło and the European Art Ensemble released Emotion on Polish label jbbo Records.
A video by Leszek Żadło and the European Art Ensemble with G.A.S.P. live on Radio Kraków features Wojtek Groborz on piano, Bartek Staromiejski on drums, Tolek Lisiecki on bass, August Wilhelm Scheer on baritone saxophone, and Żadło on tenor saxophone:
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1942, Bill Elgart received his first drum set at age 13. In the early 1960s, he enrolled at what was then called the Berklee School of Music, studying with master drummer Alan Dawson. After two semesters, Elgart left school to start his career as a professional musician. He first made a name in New York’s New Jazz Scene in the mid-1960s, playing with Carla Bley, Marion Brown, Mike Nock, Sam Rivers, and was a member of the New York Art Quartet, along with Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai, and Eddie Gomez. In 1968, Bill Elgart joined Paul Bley and Gary Peacock on Mr. Joy, Elgart’s recording debut, his first of more than 75 albums as a leader or sideman. A closer look at Bill Elgart’s career in music is found on this site under “bio.”
Among recent recordings, Bill Elgart joined vibraphonist Dizzy Krisch, bassist Karoline Höfler, and guest vocalist Lauren Newton on their Lonely Woman album, released by JazzHausMusik in 2016. Elgart is also featured on the Christian Hassenstein Trio’s new Cause & Consequence album, with bassist Sven Schuster and guitarist Hassenstein, available on the DJAMtones label.
An article on Lonely Woman album includes several videos as well as an exclusive interview with bass player Karoline Höfler. See the “albums” section at the top of the page.
“Evolutism” from Krisch-Höfler-Elgart feat. Lauren Newton’s Lonely Woman, with Dizzy Krisch on vibraphone, Karoline Höfler on bass, Bill Elgart on drums, and Lauren Newton on voice, composed by Krisch with lyrics by Newton, is here:
More Music from Bill Elgart and Leszek Żadło
About five months before Heavy Mental was recorded, Bill Elgart joined pianist Chris Beier and bassist Rainer Glas on Leszek Żadło’s Breath album released on Enja Records.
A closer look at this album, currently available as a digital download from online retailers including Amazon and iTunes, is in the works.
For now, an auto-generated video for Leszek Żadło’s composition “The Day Count Died,” featuring Chris Beier on piano, Bill Elgart on drums, Rainer Glass on bass, and Żadło on sax and flute, is online*:
*Video may not be available in all regions