BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON RICK HELZER
Jazz Pianist, Composer and Educator
Rick Helzer is the Associate Director of Jazz Studies at San Diego State University where he coordinates the undergraduate and graduate jazz theory programs and combos.
Rick has performed extensively over the last twenty-five years in a number of jazz groups. Notably he performed with the trio Big World, touring Germany and the Pacific Northwest, and recording "Devotion" (Cexton Records) and "Angels" (9 Winds Records). Both albums received critical acclaim in Jazz Times, Cadence, Coda, Saxophone Journal and numerous other publications. Jazz Times reviewer Doug Ramsey said of "Devotion," "This is one of the most stimulating debut records in years." In Saxophone Journal reviewer Tim Price said of "Angels," "Their artistic greatness is the likes of which you need to hear. This is essential music played by a world class ensemble." He is also featured as a soloist, composer and arranger on sixteen other albums, many of which have been reviewed in the above publications.
His most recent recordings include "Face in the Mirror," a CD of his compositions featuring flutist James Newton and saxophonist Kim Richmond and "Fancy Meeting You Here," an album of duets with woodwind artist and composer, Vinny Golia. Both were released in November of 2004 on the 9Winds label. In the May 2005 issue of All About Jazz, reviewer James Taylor said of "Face in the Mirror," “For an introduction to an incredible yet unknown artist it is a must.” In the summer 2005 edition of Signal to Noise, reviewer Larry Nai said of Rick Helzer, “Helzer’s luxurious pianisms and quick thinking make him a great duo partner for (Vinny) Golia…”
Rick is a prolific composer who has written nearly three hundred compositions, many of which have been published via recordings and print media. He has written a number of commissioned works as well. In 1996 he wrote Spherical Connotations (Variations on Themes of Thelonious Monk). The piece was performed during a South American tour in April under the auspices of the United States Information Agency and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 1997 Artistic Ambassador Program, and received many favorable reviews. More recent commissions include Saxophone Quartet No.1 (2001), a major work for the Spectrum Saxophone Quartet, that was recorded on the group’s soon to be released CD on the Circumvention label. He is currently composing a brass quintet and a trio for violin, piano and cello. Additionally, he has composed new music for a new collaborative jazz ensemble called the ARC Trio along with music for duo with guitarist John Stowell, which was recently recorded for release by the end of 2006.
Rick is also a regular contributor for Jazz Improv magazine, providing numerous solo transcriptions, annotations, record reviews and a regular column entitled Jazz Piano Perspectives.
In the scholarly arena, He co-authored an article, Jazz Listening Activities: Children's Literature and Authentic Music Samples that was published in the October 2002 issue of the Music Educators National Convention Journal. More recently he authored an article on jazz composition in the 2004 May/June issue of the Jazz Education Journal entitled Cultivating the Art of Jazz Composition.
In June of 2002, Rick did a highly successful performance tour of Costa Rica with the faculty/student jazz trio, "Jazz Express," that garnered jazz critic Alberto Zúñiga's praise in his review published in Costa Rica's La Nación in which he stated Rick, "revealed himself to be a first class performer, owner of a personal expression and knowing how to speak the language of the great legends of jazz..." During the summer of 2003, Rick and “Jazz Express” presented three formal concerts, three concerts in jazz clubs and seven master classes during a very successful twelve day tour in the Bolivian cities of Santa Cruz, Sucre, La Paz and the indigenous village of Urubicha in the Bolivian jungle.
Vinny Golia Biography
Vinny Golia is a composer who fuses the rich heritage of Jazz, contemporary classical and world music into his own unique compositions. As a woodwind performer, Golia has presented his music to concert audiences in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United States in ensembles varying dramatically in size and instrumentation. Mr. Golia has won numerous awards
as a composer, including grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, The Lila Wallace Commissioning Program, The California Arts Council, Meet the Composer, Funds for U.S. Artists and the American Composers Forum. In 1982 he created the on-going 35 piece Vinny Golia Large Ensemble to perform his compositions for chamber group and jazz orchestra.
As a performer, Vinny's recordings have been consistently picked by critics and readers of music journals for their yearly "ten best" lists. In 1990 he was the winner of the Jazz Times TDWR award for Bass Saxophone. In 1998he ranked 1st in the Cadence Magazine Writers & Readers Poll and has continually placed in the Downbeat Critic's Poll for Baritone Saxophone. In
1999 Vinny won the LA Weekly‚Äôs Award for "Best Jazz Musician". Jazziz Magazine has also named him as one of the 100 people who have influenced the course of Jazz in our Century.
Golia has also contributed original compositions and scores to Ballet and Modern Dance works, video, theatrical productions, and film. As an educator Vinny has lectured on music, improvisation, Jazz History, CD & record manufacturing and self-production throughout the United States, Europe and Canada. He currently teaches at California Institute of the Arts & Art Center College of Design. In 1998 Golia was appointed Regent's Lecturer at the University of California at San Diego.
Vinny has been a featured performer with Anthony Braxton, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Joelle Leandre, Leo Smith, Horace Tapscott, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Bertram Turetzky, George Lewis, Barre Phillips, The Rova Saxophone Quartet, Patti Smith, Harry "the Hipster" Gibson, Eugene Chadburne, Kevin Ayers, Peter Kowald, John Bergamo and the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band amongst many others.