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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes

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Songs and Themes is a visionary fusion of jazz, electronica and chamber music. With its eighth contribution to the Thirsty Ear Records catalog, the production team of Ashley Wales and multi-instrumentalist John Coxon has truly outdone itself. Songs and Themes is ambient and atmospheric while still maintaining a link to the avant-garde. Songs and Themes is as much trumpeter Roy Campbell's record as it is Coxon and Wales.' Beginning with “Church Music," which marries the psychedlia of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1969) with the symphonia of the trumpeter's Sketches of Spain (Columbia, 1959), it's abundantly clear ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes

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Sometimes, music is made to be pleasant without presenting audacious and extreme challenges to the ear. The key is for that music to remain engaging. How differentiated the instrumentation is, the more chances the umbrella of engagement can be opened. The slightest edge, the slightest off-centeredness will be heard and remembered, and will expand the music's integrity.

In this somewhat conventionally titled recording, Songs and Themes, sampler Ashley Wales and multi-instrumentalist John Coxon, the British duo Spring Heel Jack, have incorporated the contributions of savvy internationally known contemporary musicians into their identifiable electronic sampling and instrumentals.

There is nothing upbeat ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Songs and Themes

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Named after a character from Victorian folklore, Spring Heel Jack (the English electronic duo of John Coxon and Ashley Wales) has vaulted across stylistic divides with the same ease that witnesses attributed to the legendary figure. Undergoing a gradual aesthetic transformation over the past decade, they have expanded from experimental drum 'n bass duo to innovators in a genre of their own devising: free-ambient.

Since the turn of the Millennium, their recordings have featured appearances by such notable free jazz icons as Tim Berne, Evan Parker, William Parker, Paul Rutherford, Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, John Surman and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Songs And Themes

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At the turn of this new century the duo of John Coxon and Ashley Wales, know as Spring Heel Jack took the words to heart of Jeffrey Lebowski, commonly known as “the dude" when he proclaimed, “this aggression will not stand, man!" The pair turned from their hyper-programmed drum 'n' bass origins to a ground breaking free jazz-meets-ambient style. With Songs And Themes their reputation as master organizers is articulated to near perfection.

While they have taken up instruments; Coxon the guitar, violin and bass and Wales has played various horns and guitars on previous albums, these two ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Spring Heel Jack: Live

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Spring Heel Jack Live Thirsty Ear 2003

Spring Heel Jack Live is a result to SHJ's venture in the world of avant-jazz and improvised music. It all started with Masses, an album that was first in a project called “Blue Series Continuum," where avant musicians from the Thirsty Ear record label went to collaborate together. This duo has made a name for itself in the world of drum'n'bass and dance music and their decision to join another group of free jazz musicians (Evan Parker, Mathew Shepp, Tim Berne, Roy Campbell, George Trebar, etc.) resulted ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: The Sweetness of the Water

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After two successful group improv albums—one with American avant gardists and the other with their British counterparts—and a brilliant live album uniting the two, Spring Heel Jack offers creative music fans The Sweetness of the Water, the group's fourth on Matthew Shipp’s eclectic Blue Series imprint at Thirsty Ear. The latest release from IDM-cum-free jazz duo Spring Heel Jack brings esteemed trumpeter and vanguard composer Wadada Leo Smith to the mix, along with reedsman and longtime Spring Heel collaborator Evan Parker, fellow Brit John Edwards on bass, and drummer Mark Sanders. The Sweetness of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: The Sweetness of the Water

Read "The Sweetness of the Water" reviewed by

Spring Heel Jack’s previous Thirsty Ear disc captured a live performance with Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Evan Parker, and others, creating dense grooves that some compared to the churning thickness of early ‘70s Miles. Their new release has them at times light as sunbeam lint, possibly a result of guest Wadada Leo Smith’s input—the structure is more like a Smith project, or even Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Collaborators—in addition to Spring Heel Jack, comprised of John Coxon and Ashley Wales—also include veteran rhythm section members John Edwards on double bass and Mark Sanders on drums and timpani, plus the returning ...



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