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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

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: The Sweetness Of The Water

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Spring Heel Jack is the brainchild of British musicians John Coxon and Ashley Wales, who have collaborated with jazz musicians to create a new fusion of free jazz and electronica. On The Sweetness Of The Water , Coxon and Wales merge their keyboards, guitars, and sound sculptures with the acoustic quartet of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist John Edwards, and drummer Mark Sanders. The resulting music is often meditative, frequently thoughtful, and always majestic and masterful.

As good as Spring Heel Jack's previous efforts were, at times the electronics would either stand outside the acoustic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: The Sweetness of the Water

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John Coxon and Ashley Wales (together known as Spring Heel Jack) have stirred the stimulus of several musicians, their bed of bass and drums and electronics being the take-off point. They do so once more with their fourth outing in Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, this time with the indelibly persuasive presence of Wadada Leo Smith and regular cohort Evan Parker.

The music here is completely improvised, a perfect setup for some provocative twists and turns, as it evolves in the sphere of freedom and settles very comfortably in a structured realm as well. Inventiveness casts its spell ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Live

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John Coxon and Ashley Wales, aka Spring Heel Jack, extend their Thirsty Ear tenure into a trilogy with the release of Live. Their heady blend of wild electronica and free jazz collided with American improvisers on Massed, and their European counterparts on Amassed. Members from each project join forces to form the live group with genre killing results. There’s a taste of prog rock, particularly Soft Machine, and for sheer density electric Miles Davis circa 1974.

But don’t file under “retro,” especially with the likes of Evan Parker, Han Bennink, William Parker, and Matthew Shipp along for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Live

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Spring Heel Jack, in the persona of John Coxon and Ashley Wales, has found the right formula in marrying billowing electronics to traditional musical instruments. The equation has changed in terms of musicians from last year's Amassed , but the results have not been watered down. Gone are Kenny Wheeler and Paul Rutherford, and George Trebar has made way for William Parker.

The tracks run over 35 minutes and 39 minutes respectively, which makes for easier assimilation in a live setting than a recorded one. But give it to the band: there is nary a moment that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Live

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Spring Heel Jack, which has spanned a remarkably diverse range of sounds since its coming out in 1995, recently turned toward jazz (or post-jazz) improvisation as a medium for expression. John Coxon and Ashley Wales made one of the greatest electronica records of all time in Busy Curious Thirsty (Trade 2/Island, 1997), but over the course of four records for Thirsty Ear's Blue Series the duo has marked new territory.

Live documents 75 minutes of live performance in Brighton and Bath during late January of 2003. It's important to understand and respect the title of the record, because ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Spring Heel Jack: Live

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From the opening salvo of distorted electric guitar, there is little doubt that the latest release from Spring Heel Jack will be nothing short of a wild bundle of scabrous love. While this album consists of only two live pieces, both over thirty-five minutes long, this notorious group of individuals cover a vast emotional and musical terrain.

This is the third release from Spring Heel Jack (John Coxon and Ashley Wales) on the Thirsty Ear label. After meeting with great success in jungle and electronica in the mid-'90s, they embarked into a new area of interest with their Thirsty Ear ...

LONDON CALLING

Spring Heel Jack: John Coxon and Ashley Wales

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Two of the most innovative and impressive albums of the past two years have been Masses and Amassed by Spring Heel Jack, both on the Thirsty Ear label. These albums were particularly notable for the duo--individually, John Coxon and Ashley Wales--joining forces with some of jazz's most cutting edge players. On Masses, they were joined by American improvisers including Tim Berne, Guillermo E. Brown, Mat Manieri, William Parker and Matthew Shipp plus our own Evan Parker, while Amassed mainly featured European-based improvisers including Han Bennink, John Edwards, Paul Rutherford and Kenny Wheeler plus Shipp and Evan Parker again, ...



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