Mark Helias' Open Loose "Atomic Clock" (Radio Legs Music)
"Mark Helias is one of the finest acoustic bass players in the contemporary jazz avant-garde, a guy who can play inside as well as out and who stretches the boundaries in both directions. In fact, calling him an "out" cat is too limiting and mildly inaccurate, as his groups tend to play a structured form of modern jazz that sits hard in the sweet spot of jazz tradition. It's just that Helias also loves to exploit the possibilities of freedom in his bands as well. Best of both worlds--melodic, harmonized and swinging, yet wide open too."
"But Open Loose is no ordinary band, and Atomic Clock is no ordinary jazz record. I'm strenuously enthusiastic about it, as will be all serious jazz fans. Almost "classical" in its organization and technique, this sequence of improvisations on tantalizing themes is a 2006 highlight that more people need to hear. Freedom with design, it sounds like the very definition of jazz--the very definition of America at its best."
"...one of the best jazz recordings of 2006."
Will Layman, PopMatters
"Yet another outstanding program from Helias and his trio that brings the bassist's vision to life. But really, with such a roster and Helias' pen, what's not to like?"
Jay Collins, One Final Note
" This is a really strong free-jazz date from some of my favorite players on the New York scene. The music maintains an incredible energy and vitality throughout, whether they're playing with or without time and harmony. You just get the feeling that you're in the hands of pros when listening to this album; these guys know exactly what they're doing and they're damn good at doing it"
Justin Glick WNUR
"Not for the faint of heart, this album boasts an aura that sort of encapsulates the art of purposeful improv, which most assuredly emanates from the heart and soul. Musically electrifying and highly entertaining..."
Glenn Astarita ejazznews
"Mark Helias--his big steady bass and organic, his compositions ever-changing--continues to set the standard for making music that bears shape and direction but also celebrates the freedom to improvise openly and... er... loosely. For ten years he and his powerful trio have refined and broadened the scope of this music so by now the players share an ethos that allows them to explore what making music in a group means. It's three individuals bonded by the passion of collaboration."
Donald Elfman-All About Jazz
Helias' Open Loose continues to play at a high level, teasingly seductive at times, casting a silvery mood, all done, for the most part, while traveling the speed limit. There is much to savor here.
Ken Weiss - Jazz Improv Magazine
Mark Helias' Open Loose "Verbs of Will" (Radio Legs Music)
Loose is one of those groups who sound as if they just don’t care where
they’re pigeon-holed: mainstream/outside, tight/loose,
flowing /disruptive, whatever--these guys play it all and it rocks." Jason Bivins Signal To Noise
"This trio seems to be very aptly titled since they balance between looseness and tightness, they play around and have fun with the structure of each piece. There is a wonderful balance of all three players here, with a certain spaciousness due to close listening, often with a calm center, yet restless at times"Bruce Gallanter DTMG 7/03/03
"Open Loose is the tightly knit trio of veteran virtuoso bassist Mark Helias, featuring the formidable tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and versatile percussionist Tom Rainey. Helias, who took his place in the vanguard of the ‘70s New Jazz scene in the groups of Anthony Davis and Anthony Braxton, two of the music’s most intelligent composers, displays a similar commitment to thoughtful structure in his writing without sacrificing the exotic earthiness he exhibited during many years of collaboration with the great drummer Edward Blackwell. Verbs of Will, recorded right after a 17-day tour of America’s Southwest, West Coast and Canada, shows off the group’s cohesive interpretations of the leader’s carefully constructed compositions. The nearly one hour 12-track CD is impressive for the variety of moods it explores and the levels of intensity it achieves". Russ Musto, All About Jazz (9/2003)
Mark Helias' Open Loose "New School" (Enja Records)
" Helias pilots the group
with a selfless spirit; his compositions walk a fine line between structure
and freedom and any of the three instruments can take the lead or recedeinto
the background at any time."
David Adler, AMG Rating ****
" This is another excellent outing from Mark Helias' Open Loose so dig in and enjoy! " Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
" Bassist Mark Helias brought his great trio to Australia
last year and floored many with the realisation that the Americans can still
produce spontaneous, free, exciting but thoughtful jazz."
John Clare , Sydney Australia Best Releases of the Year 2001
"All and all, the session recorded
live at a New York concert last year shows how much can be accomplished with
only three standard instruments."
Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly on the Internet
" Mark Helias' intense and almost indescribable bass playing on his latest live release, Fictionary, exists on a level reserved for the elite of new music bassists today ." Scott Menhinick, Signal To Noise
" The bassist is the writer of all seven compositions, each of which merits repeated listening, and each of which benefits from outstanding musicianship ." Chuck Obuchowski, The Green Mountain Jazz Messenger
Open Loose "Come Ahead Back" Downbeat Magazine****
Conceptual vigor and joie de vivre blend felicitously
in Mark Helias' music, qualities communicated to the max on Come Ahead Back...
. Trio mates Ellery Eskelin on tenor sax and Tom Rainey on drums are individualists
adept at thinking on their feet in sync, able to switch roles at a momentís
notice, equally comfortable in the open field or working within a lane. Helias presents a balanced six-course menu, opening with Semaphore,
a loose high-velocity aperitif that gets the juices flowing. That segues
to the lively blues-with-a-twist Line Nine,morphs into open-form rubato
with The Other Brother, hurtles into free-bop with Boppo, decrescendos
into nuanced three-way improv on Case Sensitive, and concludes on a
deep groove with the African-inflected vamp-to-free Last One In, First
One Out. Helias imprints his personality on the flow with light
touch; secure in his virtuosity, he's the music's faithful liege.
Ted Pankin, Downbeat
"Mark Helias, a musically gifted jack-of-all-trades,
always seems to be searching for new ways to express himself, from solo performance
to his own quartet. Open Loose is a trio with a revolving door policy as concerns
the other two members. His collaborators have included Gerry Hemingway or
Pheeroan AkLaff on drums, Chris Speed on tenor and Herb Robertson on trumpet.
On this CD, we're delighted to find Ellery Eskelin on tenor, a prominent voice
on the scene and someone who will be a force to be reckoned with for years
to come. Tom Rainey, perhaps better known for his work in more conventional
settings, proves himself here to be a master improviser. Listen to this CD,
and particularly Case Sensitive, if you want to know what musical interaction
is all about. While's there is no apparent "leader" on that tune,
the effect is nonetheless one of unity and coherence. "Free" music,
or as Helias might put it, open and loose? A very successful effort."
Alain Le Roux, Le Jazz
The Cool ; true grit with an intellect."
John Corbett, Downbeat Magazine, ****1/2
Loopin' the Cool ****
"Mark Helias is at the same an experimental leader and unclassifiable ground breaker."
Jazzman Magazine, Paris
"Helias offers subtle and shifting compositions that are a seductive as they are vital and unpredictable."
Other Press Quotes
"....the recordings I had heard of Helias
had not prepared me for his formidable virtuosity. Each solo was a journey
through lush pastoralism and scribbled abstraction, journeys which evinced
gasps of wonder and enthusiastic applause."
Alan Brookings, On The Street, Sydney, Australia
"...his writing can be witty, pointed
and a bit twisted."
Jim MacNie, The New Paper
"Helias places greater emphasis on compositional variety and the diverse strengths of his partners that on specific models" Bob Blumenthal, The Boston Phoenix
"The bassist and composer Mark Helias
is a structuralist who likes his compositions tidy. The music he makes isn't
small: it pushes and jostles like a river about to jump its banks, but it
is identified by its attention to form, a precision and logic that make his
pieces sound symmetrical and clean"
Peter Watrous,New York Times
"Helias is a musical omnivore whose inspirations
range from classical etudes to world-music groovefests, from gut bucket blues
to Crescent City struts to freebop, from Satchmo to Mingus to Trane."
Gene Santoro, Pulse Magazine
" "(Mark Helias) is an exquisite bassist, a talent
that's obvious on all of his records. Direct without being blunt, Helias'
phrasing, finesse and gorgeous intonation continuously reveal themselves in
Jim MacNie, The New Paper
" One of New York's finest composers, thinkers, and instrumentalists"
(Peter Watrous). , New York Times