Heillig Manoeuvre
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Heillig Manoeuvre

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Jazz Adult Contemporary


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Heillig Manoeuvre @ Jazz Bistro

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Heillig Manoeuvre @ Jazz Bistro

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada



"Thoughtful Fun - Heillig Manoeuvre"

Canada’s one-time boy wonder of neo-mainstream, Henry Heillig, has now, unbelievably, spent over 30 years ploughing his fertile furrow across the continent and elsewhere with the Heillig Manoeuvre, among other well-known ensembles. With Thoughtful Fun, the Manoeuvre’s sixth album, the bassist continues to entertain and dazzle in his virtuoso playing together with the extraordinary musicianship of other members of this ensemble.

Every piece here is played by Heillig with a languid ease, each rhythmic variation following the other, quietly inexorabe, his sumptuous bass sound brilliantly caught in this recording. There is an unhurried quality to his approach, a lived-in character to his phrase-making that is very engaging; and while it might lack the fire and brimstone of youth, it is more than compensated for by the well-honed values of experience.

Stacie McGregor on piano and organ, Charlie Cooley on drums and Alison Young on saxophones also bring their own exceptional musicianship to the eight songs on this disc. Their own playing puts a special spotlight on these beautifully crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness, each informed by lovingly caressed phrases at every turn.

Vocalist Alex Tait not only sings on Extreme Strolling and El Niño, but has also written poetic lyrics for the latter song. She too is completely attuned to the vision of the Heillig Manoeuvre. Hers is a voice whose mellifluous timbre beguiles and swings in the spacious arrangements of both songs. - The WholeNote - Oct 31/2017

"Heillig Manoeuvre: Inmotion"

Heillig Manoeuvre’s sophomore disk, Inmotion , manages to straddle a fine line: harmonically and rhythmically rich enough to intrigue the more serious jazz listener, it also maintains a level of melodic accessibility and groove to appeal to the more casual listener. Successful on both counts, this is a record that covers a lot of territory but never loses site of engaging its audience. “I was brought up in a home where music was a social event,” says bassist/leader Henry Heillig. “To me it is a form of sharing, of communicating.”
Setting the tone for the album with the upbeat opener, “Ladybug Waltz,” the group quickly establishes a predilection for memorable melodies. Contemporary rhythms coupled with a strong lyrical sense abound, from the quirky 7/4 funk of “Sam’s Guitar” to the tender ballad, “Keep Walkin’.” From the Latin-tinged “Heatherweed” to the modernistic swing of “Miles Behind,” the group keeps things both intellectually engaging and spiritually moving.

Heillig has a long history of contemporary jazz work, dating back to the jazz-meets-Latin-meets-funk band Manteca which ran for over fifteen years, winning the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy, the Juno. He is a supple bassist on both acoustic and electric, contributing fine solos on “Sam’s Guitar” and in particular “Don’t Feel Bad Homburg,” where he brings to mind the lyrical touch of Charlie Haden.

Guitarist Jake Langley has covered a lot of ground in his relatively short career, from playing with Grateful Dead alumnus Merl Sanders to soul singer Bobby “Blue” Bland, as well as a more straight-ahead context with P.J. Perry and blues with Carlos del Junco. He brings his breadth of knowledge to this recording, from the post-Metheny bop on “Spring, Please” and “Procession” to the more gritty approach of “Sam’s Guitar.” Through it all he demonstrates the ability to combine solid technique with a sense of passion.

Pianist Craig Harley is another up-and-coming young player who has emerged on the scene since graduating from the University of Toronto Jazz Program in 1997. Whether on acoustic or electric piano, and like the rest of his bandmates, he manages to investigate harmonic depth while, at the same time, remaining completely accessible.

Drummer Howard Gaul couples a strong sense of groove with a slap-happy approach that brings the programme of original material to life. On “Dancing Julie” he solos confidently over an ostinato and proves that his rhythmic sense is backed up by formidable technique.

The challenge, when making a recording that wants to appeal to a broad audience is that, by making concessions to either side—challenge versus accessibility—one runs the risk of alienating everyone. Fortunately that is not the case with Inmotion , an album that remarkably finds a way to satisfy everyone while refusing to make any artistic compromises. - All About Jazz


Still working on that hot first release.



Heillig Manoeuvre is a Toronto-based quartet whose repertoire consists of original instrumental jazz. Bassist/bandleader Henry Heillig describes what they do as  thoughtful fun. 

 "I write songs, with melody and elements of my own character. They become jazz in performance with my musical partners." says Heillig.

Heillig is best know for his twenty+ years as musical director of Manteca, the nine-multiple Juno Award winning jazz ensemble.

 "Manteca was a great ride, much like an ocean liner. Heillig Manoeuvre , by comparison, is a sailboat that can change direction on a gust of spontaneous ideas. Our performances have form, but also room for spontaneity, and we push each other to be our very best. Audience reaction to our approach has been uniformly rewarding!"

The current version of Heillig Manoeuvre, together since 2011, is on the cusp of releasing a third CD, Thoughtful Fun.

The members of Heillig Manoeuvre are:

 Saxophonist Alison Young, recently included in a CBC.ca feature called "35 Best Canadian Jazz Artists Under 35". Alison has a musical personality that belies her young age. Her playing is soulful and energetic, and her compositions feel very natural. Alison is in great demand, currently performing with pop singer Alysha Brilla, jazzmasters Joe Sealy and Colin Hunter, and roots bands Big Rude Jake and Red Hot Ramble as well as Heillig Manoeuvre.

Pianist Stacie McGregor  has been a Heillig favourite for many years for her ability to dig-in to a groove and also solo with abandon. She was MD for the late Archie Alleyne's hard-bop band Kollage, toured with bassist Brandi Disterheft, as well as holding down a weekly solo piano gig for over twenty years.

Drummer  Charlie Cooley's career has found him touring and recording with many of Canada's top acts, from Amanda Marshall, the Guess Who and Sass Jordan to Prairie Oyster and Jimmy Rankin. However, his place in Heillig Manoeuvre is a result of his 25+ years as Heillig's rhythm partner in Manteca. The pair have an uncanny rapport which creates seamless confident grooving in support of Alison and Stacie's inspired melodies.

Bassist and composer Henry Heillig  began his career as a singer-songwriter in Montreal. He learned stage craft in intimate coffee houses,  and started playing bass  accompanying his dad's favourite swing tunes in their living room. This combination leads directly to Heillig Manoeuvre's repertoire and performance style.

Concurrent with his time leading Manteca, Heillig Heillig toured with Sharon, Lois and Bram and Eric Nagler, producing music for his children's television series. He has been a member of harmonica virtuoso Carlos del Junco's ensemble for almost twenty years. For the last ten years, he has been involved as musical director and producer for a project called The Journey, which puts vocal veterans such as Jackie Richardson and Alana Bridgewater together with young singers in Regent Park, chronicling the ongoing redevelopment of their neighbourhood.


Band Members