Chris Heslop has pulled together local musicians who have the respect of this jazz-loving community of Reading, Pennsylvania. But make no mistake. Listening to their sound at Gerald Veasley's Jazz Base early in the opening season proved to me that Hesse�s Nasty 9 cannot be pigeon-holed into one genre. The core of their mission statement sums it up best: �Perpetuating traditional American music with extreme diversity and cockeyed yet respectful renderings of beloved favorites.� And as Chris says, their repertoire includes Dixieland, Broadway, classic rock, heavy metal, and classical music, in addition to jazz.
On this night at the Jazz Base, Heslop�s band consisted of Heslop as bandleader and saxophonist, Chuck Dressler and Doc Mulligan on trombones, Frank Gattis on drums, Rob Diener and Bob Stoyko on trumpet, Mike Eben and Jill Scheidt on sax, Ken Kemmerer on helicon, Pete Rogosky on guitar and since Heslop�s bass player was absent, Gerald Veasley had the �chance� to sit in.
Gerald sat in for a Jaco Pastorius feature entitled, �Chicken� as well as one other song, so he was not on stage for the entire evening. And in this position as bandmember Gerald took direction and followed his bandleader beautifully. It was very comical to listen to Chris take advantage of being able to give Gerald directions. (You�d have to know Chris � he just had to do it!) Gerald was genuinely humble and just happy to be playing. He never ceases to amaze us with his easy, unassuming manner.
Hesse�s Nasty 9 band was very busy during this show. They played a variety of music, including 'St. Louis Blues,' followed by 'Hesse�s 9 Overture' (an original composition which was quite impressive!), 'What a Wonderful World,' with special vocalists Sharon Bailey and Joe Keys (don�t look twice, this was actually Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and they were awesome!), 'Theme from Star Wars,' 'You�ll Stay In My Heart,' and the patriotic 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' and 'America the Beautiful.' Another original composition called, 'Dimention,' was also memorable.
Chris Heslop will join Tim Price and others at the Berks Jazz Fest Preview Concert/Saxophone Summit, to be held March 10th. And he will be quite busy during the Berks Jazz Fest, playing a number of different venues, including participation in the Ray Charles Tribute at the Jazz Base. Beyond this, he is an arranger for a variety of clients from jazz to classical to Salsa. Most of the time, he's playing jazz gigs throughout the area but lately has been focusing most of his energy on Hesse's Nasty 9 and a stage show on Louis Armstrong. His personal schedule can be seen on Nasty9.com by hitting the "Chris's Schedule" button.
Quite a versatile performer, Heslop has played in various genres, along with jazz artists Wynton Marsalis, Gerald Veasley, Patti Austin, popular artists like The Temptations, Olivia Newton-John, and salsa with Hector Tricoche and Cano Estremera. (You can see more artists he�s played with at his website!)
It was an impressive show, one I�m glad I attended! Don't forget to come out and see Chris Heslop March 10th at the Berks Jazz Fest Preview Concert/Saxophone Summit.
Beverly J. Packard
Jazz Circle Member of the Berks Arts Council
Photo credits: Michael Packard