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San Diego Legend Rick Helzer is band in town for one night in a trio setting
Rick has performed extensively over the last twenty-six 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 seventeen other albums, many of which have been reviewed in the above publications.
Other commercially released recordings featuring his original compositions include Face in the Mirror, which includes performances by flutist James Newton and saxophonist Kim Richmond, along with 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…” Additionally, he composed music for an ongoing collaborative jazz group called the ARC Trio that is featured on the trio’s CD, Triptych Mirror, which was released in late January 2007, on the Circumvention label. San Diego Union Tribune music critic George Varga said of Triptych Mirror, “telepathic interplay between the group’s members.” On Canada’s online music website, exclaim.ca, reviewer Glen Hall said, “What makes this CD so compelling is its sheer musicality.” Rick also released a duo recording with guitarist John Stowell entitled Friendship and Remembrance, which was released on the Circumvention label in March of 2008. The A & A music website reviewer, Jon Worley, said of Friendship and Remembrance, “The setting is simple. The execution is elegant. The music is stunning.”
Rick is a prolific composer who has written over three hundred compositions, many of which have been published via recordings and print media. He has written a number of commissioned works as well. They include a jazz ensemble composition, The Refiner’s Fire, performed by the San Diego State Jazz Ensemble and featured on the 1997 release of the School of Music and Dance’s 100 Years, 1897-1997, compact disk. 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. A more recent commission includes his Saxophone Quartet No.1 (2001), a major work for the Spectrum Saxophone Quartet.
Rick was also a regular contributor for Jazz Inside magazine, providing numerous solo transcriptions, annotations, record reviews and a regular column entitled Piano Perspectives, from 2000 through 2011.
In the scholarly arena, He co-authored an article with Dr. Nan McDonald, 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. He also 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 January of 2007 Rick and John Stowell presented a highly successful jazz performance clinic at the 34th International Association of Jazz Education conference in New York entitled Creative Interaction in the Guitar/Piano Duo.
In other international touring, during 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.